HFI Announces new hire!

We are excited to introduce Alexis E. Block, the FIRST full-time hire for the Human Fusions Institute (HFI) at Case Western Reserve University! Alexis joins us as an Assistant Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSE)

Diagram of the CFINE neural interface

Alexis received her Bachelor’s degree with honors in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and two minors in Mathematics and Engineering Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and her Master’s degree in Robotics in 2017, also from UPenn. Block received her Dr. sc. in Computer Science from ETH Zurich in August 2021, as part of the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems, supervised by Katherine Kuchenbecker, Otmar Hilliges, and Roger Gassert. She was awarded an Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society for her doctoral work and the Best Hands-On Demonstration at EuroHaptics 2022. Alexis recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Univesity of California, Los Angeles, where she was funded by a competitive two-year postdoctoral Computing Innovation Fellowship (CI Fellows - funded by the NSF, CRA, and CCC). Block is currently the General Chair for the Robotics Gordon Research Seminar 2024, in 2023 she was named a “Microsoft Future Leader in Robotics and AI,” and in 2020, she was named a Rising Star in Mechanical Engineering. Alexis’s research has been featured in the New York Times, The Times, IEEE Spectrum (twice), NPR, MIT Technology Review, and Nature Outlook, along with many other print, radio, and television media outlets.

Alexis serves as the Director of the SaPHaRI Lab at Case Western Reserve University, a research lab focused on exploring the intricacies of social and physical human-robot interactions. Her pioneering research seamlessly integrates robotics, haptic sensing, and psychology, leading to innovative robotic systems capable of intricate physical interactions with both humans and objects, notably enriched by a profound social dimension. Apart from her research leadership, Alexis will be teaching several robotics-oriented courses, including the graduate-level course titled "Introduction to Human-Robot Interaction," offered this fall. She is also committed to mentoring students both within and outside her lab to foster an environment of academic growth, curiosity, and innovation.

Alexis's enthusiasm for the Human Fusions Institute (HFI) is rooted in two factors. First, she resonates with HFI's overarching mission, which revolves around pioneering endeavors with tangible societal impact by leveraging technology to reshape human interactions—a mission that perfectly aligns with her own research pursuits. Second, she is inspired by HFI's comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to tackling ambitious objectives. Alexis firmly believes that holistic frameworks are the optimal solution for intricate challenges, and she values the synergy that arises from cross-disciplinary collaboration, leading to fresh perspectives and innovative concepts.

Contact Alexis E. Block:

Email: alexis.block@case.edu

Phone: 1 (216) 368 - 4915

Office: Glennan 510