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Dr. Karon MacLean


Computer Science

Faculty of Science

Research Themes: 

Evolving Language in an Information Economy

Karon MacLean is Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, and Director of the Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group (SPIN). Prior to coming to UBC, she earned her B.Sc., Biology and Mech Eng (Stanford); M.Sc. and Ph.D., Mech Eng (MIT); and was a robotics engineer (Center for Engineering Design, Utah) and researcher (Interval Research, Palo Alto). At UBC since 2000, her primary contributions are in haptic interaction: cognitive, sensory and affective design for robots, touchscreens or mobile activity sensors. Her recent focus has been on understanding affective touch – how we use it, how to sense, recognize and synthesize it using robots, and to access the therapeutic benefits of touch evident in animal interactions. She has acted as bridge between the HCI, robotics and haptics communities throughout her career. Her accomplishments include NSERC Accelerator (2013); Charles A. McDowell Award (2008); Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Faculty Research Fellowship (2007); Peter Wall Early Career Scholar (2001). Chair, 2010-2012 IEEE Haptics Symposium; founding Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics; member of numerous haptics, HCI and HRI editorial and advisory boards.

Research Interests: Haptic interaction; cognitive, sensory and affective design for robots, touchscreens and mobile activity sensors.