Laura Stegner

PhD candidate studying HRI

University of Wisconsin–Madison

stegner [at] wisc [dot] edu

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About Me

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the People and Robots Laboratory. I am broadly interested in robot control and programming interfaces, studying human needs, and developing robot applications that meet them. My current research applies these ideas to the domain of care robots to assist older adults. I publish my work at HRI and HCI (CHI, DIS) venues.

Before grad school, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2019. Part of our degree program included five co-operative education experiences, exposing me to a variety of industry and research positions.

In the summers of 2018 and 2019, I worked as an intern at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany, supervised by Aman Mathur and Dr. Rupak Majumdar. We developed Paracosm, a test framework for autonomous driving simulations, published at FASE 2021.

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Research Areas


Assistive Robots for Older Adults

The combination of a rapidly aging population and growing shortage of caregivers had led to the rise in interest for assistive robots to help care for older adults and other vulnerable populations. This work seeks to understand how care robots can integrate into existing caregiving ecosystems. By understanding the needs and challenges of the end users, we can design, implement, and deploy more robust systems that have real-world use and validity.

Selected Papers:
[CHI '23] Situated Participatory Design: A Method for In Situ Design of Robotic Interaction with Older Adults
Laura Stegner, Emmanuel Senft, Bilge Mutlu
PDF - Video - Presentation - OSF
[DIS '22] Designing for Caregiving: Integrating Robotic Assistance in Senior Living Communities
Laura Stegner, Bilge Mutlu
PDF - Presentation - OSF


Novel Programming Interfaces

As robots become more commonly used in everyday scenarios, a wide range of individuals will need appropriate tools to easily and efficiently create programs that specify what their robot should do or how it should behave. This work seeks to make programming human robot interactions more natural for non-roboticists by employing programming language techniques, such as program synthesis, to translate multimodal user input into a full robot program.

Selected Papers:
[HRI '23] Sketching Robot Programs On the Fly
David Porfirio, Laura Stegner, Maya Cakmak, Allison Sauppé, Aws Albarghouthi, Bilge Mutlu
PDF - Video - Presentation - Github - OSF
[CHI '21] Figaro: A Tabletop Authoring Environment for Human-Robot Interaction
David Porfirio, Laura Stegner, Maya Cakmak, Allison Sauppé, Aws Albarghouthi, Bilge Mutlu
PDF - Video - Presentation - Github