Alexis E. Block is currently a doctoral fellow in the Center for Learning Systems, a joint program between the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and ETH Zurich. She is supervised by Katherine Kuchenbecker (MPI), Otmar Hilliges (ETH), and Roger Gassert (ETH). She earned her B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (with honors) and her M.S.E. in Robotics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and 2017, respectively. She was honored with the Penn Alumni Association Student Award of Merit at graduation in 2016.
Her research blends physical human-robot interaction, social robotics, and haptics. Her work with HuggieBot, the novel human-sized robot with visual and haptic perception she designed to hug people, has garnered significant media attention. Press included articles by The New York Times, IEEE Spectrum, The Times, TechXplore, SWR, PM Magazin, Entrepreneur.com, NBC News, and more! HuggieBot was mentioned on NPR's “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” radio program and featured in Seth Meyers' opening monologue on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Alexis has also done several radio interviews and podcasts about her work.