UK-RAS Network Award Winners

Now in its third year, the UK-RAS Network Awards recognise excellence and achievements by the UK robotics and autonomous systems community across different categories.

Early Career: For exceptional individuals in the early stages of their academic career, who have made an outstanding contribution in robotics and autonomous systems.

Community: For excellent community-building activities in the RAS community and beyond.

Impact: For partnership, collaborations, and/or transfers of knowledge or technology between academia and industry.

The strength of our Network resides in the really extraordinary individuals and teams that make up the UK-RAS community, and we’re delighted to be able to recognise some of these outstanding researchers in this year’s UK-RAS Network Awards. Our warm congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners.

Professor Robert Richardson

EPSRC UK-RAS Network Chair

UK-RAS Early Career Award 2023 (joint winners)

Shan Luo

King’s College London

Dr Shan Luo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at King’s College London, where he leads the Robot Perception Lab (RPL). Shan received a Ph.D. from King’s College London for his work on robotic perception through tactile images. In 2016, he visited the MIT Computer and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Leeds and Harvard University, followed by a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) position at the University of Liverpool from 2018 to 2021. His current research focuses on developing intelligent robots capable of safe and agile interaction with the physical environment. His primary interests lie in visuo-tactile sensors, machine learning models for visual and tactile representation learning, and robotic manipulation of challenging objects like deformable and transparent items. He is an active member of the tactile robotics community and has organised four ViTac workshops at the ICRA conferences. He has served as an Associate Editor for the robotics conferences ICRA and IROS, a guest editor for journals including T-RO and RAM, as well as a Program Committee member of major AI/ML conferences. He received the EPSRC New Investigator Award in 2021.

Edward Johns

Imperial College London

Dr Edward Johns is the Director of the Robot Learning Lab at Imperial College London, where he is also a Senior Lecturer. He received a BA and MEng from Cambridge University, and a PhD from Imperial College. He was then a post-doc at UCL, before returning to Imperial College as a founding member of the Dyson Robotics Lab. In 2018, he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship, and subsequently he was appointed as a Lecturer and founded the Robot Learning Lab. His research lies at the intersection of robot manipulation, computer vision, and machine learning, and he is currently developing methods for robots to rapidly learn new skills, particularly when being taught by non-expert, everyday people, in everyday environments.

UK-RAS Community Award Winner 2023

Patricia Shaw

Aberystwyth University

UK-RAS Impact Award Winner 2023

Samia Nefti-Meziani

University of Birmingham

Dr Patricia Shaw is Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University and Head of the Intelligent Robotics Research Group. After completing her PhD at Durham University in 2010, she moved to Aberystwyth as a Post-doctoral researcher developing and implementing mechanisms for the iCub robot enabling it to learn like a child.  During this time she got a taste for engaging with the public through numerous demonstrations, radio interviews and even television appearances showcasing the robotic research.  After taking over as head of the Intelligent Robotics research group in 2017, she established the first Aberystwyth Robotics Week in 2018, to tie in with UK-Robotics week, and building on the success of an existing annual Beachlab event.  The events taking place have grown year-on-year reaching a very wide audience. Throughout the year, she supports our outreach officer delivering robotics outreach activities for workshops run in schools or for schools bringing children to visit the University. She also helps to coordinate and run an after school robotics club, developing and delivering material across a two year curriculum introducing children from the age of 10+ to building and programming robots.  This led to her involvement in an international project exploring the effectiveness of robotics clubs as a platform for informal education to support technological development in Iraq. Most recently she is establishing a new Smart Home research lab at the University to research and develop technology for assisted independent living, building on previous interdisciplinary research and forming strong connections with Health and Social Care providers across Wales.  Through engaging with the community, she hopes this research will have a significant impact in improving support, health and wellbeing for people to live independently for longer, especially in rural communities.

Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani is director of the Birmingham Robotics Institute and chair in robotics and AI at the University of Birmingham. She is an internationally leading expert with 25 years of experience and a well-established track record in Robotics, intelligent automation and AI. She recently received an Order of the British Empire for services to robotics which was awarded in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours list. She also featured as the 2020’s top 30 world’s women in robotics you need to know about by Silicon Valley Robohub. She has developed practical cross-sectorial robotics technologies through numerous commercial and research projects, funded by the EU, EPSRC, RE and Innovate UK and has pioneered the use of robotics and autonomous systems in many sectors including food, nuclear, transport, aerospace and healthcare. Prof. Nefti-Meziani is a co-founder of the National Robotics Network, which includes industry end-users and academic members, she is serving as a government advisory board member for the Robotics Growth Partnership and she is currently the Academic lead of the UK Cross-Sector Robotics and Autonomous Systems Development Task Force chaired by BEIS, and the National Committee in RAS Legislation, Standards and Ethics.