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School of Engineering

Faculty spotlight: Elaine Schaertl Short

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Elaine Schaertl Short, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, works at the intersection of assistive technology and social robotics.
Headshot, Elaine Short

In the fall of 2019, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor Elaine Schaertl Short joined the Tufts University Department of Computer Science. She completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Maja Matarić in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California (USC), followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Socially Intelligent Machines Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her M.S. in Computer Science from USC in 2012 and her B.S. in Computer Science from Yale University in 2010. She is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, USC Provost’s Fellowship, and a Google Anita Borg Scholarship. Her research focuses on building algorithms that enable robust assistive human-robot interaction in schools, homes, crowds, and other natural environments.

The following interview took place with the Department of Computer Science.

How did you get into computer science in the first place?
I started out majoring in Biomedical Engineering, with a strong interest in biomechanics.  However, I discovered during an internship after my sophomore year that I'm very squeamish, which sent me back to the drawing board! Around the same time, I took my first CS classes, and fell completely in love.  My junior year I got involved in robotics research in the CS department, and have never looked back.

Why did you choose to come to Tufts? Alternately, what do you like about Tufts now that you're here?
There's a lot to like about Tufts: a collegial environment, my own lab space, collaborators I'm excited about working with (and not just people in my subfield, although those folks are great too), colleagues who care about diversity, a university that values teaching and mentoring, and a computer science department where faculty think a lot about human problems.

What aspect of your background would you like to highlight?
I've only done research internships, which means I'm now up to having worked at seven different universities, with more than 10 different robots.

Can you tell us something about yourself that's unrelated to CS?
I have done wheel-thrown pottery off and on for the last 15 years. Most of the bowls and serving dishes in my kitchen were made by me.