MassRobotics announces winner of Robotics Medal, names Rising Star

Inaugural award recognizes the accomplishments of women in robotics

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Nancy Amato has been named the first recipient of the Robotics Medal award, nonprofit robotics innovation firm MassRobotics, announced.

MassRobotics serves as an innovation hub, accelerator and incubator. The Robotics Medal and Rising Star award was presented to Amato at the IEEE ICRA conference in London on June 1. The association said it is the first major prize to recognize the “wide-ranging impact of female researchers focusing on the development of robotics around the globe.”

Amato is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was honored for her “significant contributions to the field of robotics, notably for her research on the algorithmic foundations of motion planning, computational biology, computational geometry, and parallel computing.”

The Robotics Medal is awarded to a woman-identifying student/faculty nominated professor in robotics to recognize their impactful contributions to the field and is accompanied by a $50,000 prize.

In addition to the Robotics Medal, MassRobotics also awarded its first Rising Star Award to Alyssa Nicole Pierson of Boston University for her “key contributions to the cooperative, distributed control of multi-agent teams.” Nicole was awarded $5,000 as a prize.

Both awards are supported by an endowment established in 2022 by Amazon.

“By endowing the Robotics Medal, we aspire to showcase and celebrate women robotics professors worldwide who have made a significant impact to the advancement of the field of robotics,” said Tye Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics. “It is an honor to be the founding sponsor of the Robotics Medal and we are thankful for the significant contributions and teachings made by our rising stars and legendary pioneers in that field.”

Nominations for the two awards came from across the globe and spanned a range of robotic technology fields and areas of research, MassRobotics said.

Founded in 2017, MassRobotics currently supports 80 startups at its Boston facility, with 25% of those coming from outside the United States. It hosts STEM- and robotics-related initiatives specifically targeted for high school women.

“We were thrilled by the overwhelming number of qualified nominations we received and impressed with the diversity of robotic fields and research happening across the globe,” said Joyce Sidopoulos, co-founder at MassRobotics. “It reflects the powerful contributions women have made and will continue to make to this important, vibrant and growing field supporting nearly all industries.”

A formal Gala awarding the medals and celebrating the winners will be held in Boston at the Museum of Science on Oct. 21. The Museum of Science will highlight the medal winners in its ongoing Women in Technology initiative.

“The field of robotics requires the unique insights, inventiveness, and leadership of more female professionals to propel the science, engineering, and applications of this crucial discipline forward, and to inspire the ensuing wave of innovators,” said Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT and member of the MassRobotics board. “The Robotics Medal signifies far more than its substantial monetary award. It symbolizes an acknowledgement and celebration of the remarkable achievements of women who not only pioneer in the field, but also inspire as role models, sparking the curiosity and ambition of the forthcoming generation of roboticists.”

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Brian Straight, SCMR Editor in Chief
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Brian Straight is the Editor in Chief of Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered trucking, logistics and the broader supply chain for more than 15 years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children. He can be reached at [email protected], @TruckingTalk, on LinkedIn, or by phone at 774-440-3870.

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