About HCRI

We are a group of Brown University faculty, students, and affiliates dedicated to robotics as a means to tackle the problems the world faces today.  Beyond pursuing the goal of technological advancement, we want to ensure that these advancements are applicable and beneficial economically and socially.  We are working across many disciplines to document the societal needs and applications of human-robot interaction research as well as the ethical, legal, and economic questions that will arise with its development.  Our research ultimately aims to help create and understand robots that coexist harmoniously with humans.

The HCRI unites Brown University faculty and students across numerous departments and schools who are dedicated to robotics as an innovative and societally beneficial technology. Common commitments include (a) identifying societal needs that robots can help fulfill; (b) advancing science and technology of robots that fulfill these needs; and (c) studying and integrating into design the societal impact of robotic technologies, with a goal of averting labor replacement and privileged access to technology.

Administrative Staff

Michael Littman


Michael is the Co-Director of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. He works in reinforcement learning, but has done work in machine learning, game theory, computer networking, partially observable Markov decision process solving, computer solving of analogy problems and other areas.

Littman received his Ph.D. in computer science from Brown University in 1996. From 1996-1999, he was a professor at Duke University. From 2000-2002, he worked at AT&T. From 2002-2012, he was a professor at Rutgers University; he chaired the department from 2009-12. In Summer 2012, he returned to Brown University as a full professor.

Bertram Malle


Bertram is the Co-Director of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. In his research, Dr. Malle focuses on social and moral cognition, examining such issues as intentionality judgments, mental state inferences, behavior explanations, and blame and guilt. He uses a wide variety of methodologies, including text content analysis, observations of social interaction, eye tracking, and reaction times. Recently he has begun to examine how social and moral cognition can be realized in a robotic system, and how humans interact with such robots.

Bertram studied psychology, philosophy, and linguistics at the University of Graz. After receiving his Master’s degrees in psychology and philosophy, Malle received his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1995, and joined the faculty of the University of Oregon the same year. During his tenure at the University of Oregon, Dr. Malle also served as the Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences (2001-2007). He became Professor of Psychology in 2007, and in 2008 he joined Brown University.

Peter Haas

Associate Director

Peter is the Associate Director of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. He was the Co-Founder and COO of XactSense, a UAV manufacturer working on LIDAR mapping and autonomous navigation. Prior to XactSense, Peter founded AIDG – a small hardware enterprise accelerator in emerging markets. Peter received both TED and Echoing Green fellowships. He has been a speaker at TED Global, The World Bank, Harvard University and other venues. He holds a Philosophy B.A. from Yale. More on Peter can be found at PeterHaas.co

Suzanne Alden

Grants Manager

Suzanne has been with Brown University since 2010, initially coordinating grants for the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, then transitioning in 2013 to the Department of Computer Science, where she serves a dual role as Finance and Grants Manager, and administrative coordinator of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative (HCRI). Prior to her work at Brown, Suzanne spent ten years as a development officer and grant writer for Rhode Island-based nonprofit organizations, raising millions of dollars for a wide range of causes, including health, housing, education, and the environment. She has a master’s degree in accounting and earned the CFRE fundraising credential in 2010.

Ian Gonsher

Design Instructor

Ian Gonsher is an artist, designer, and educator. He is on the faculty in the School of Engineering at Brown University, where his teaching and research focus on design process and creative practice. He is also the co-founder of the Brown Design Workshop, Brown STEAM, the Creative Scholars Project, the Brown Creative Mind Initiative, and Critical Design/Critical Futures.  He holds a BFA in Industrial Design and Art History from the University of Kansas, as well as a MFA in Furniture Design.


Dima AmsoCLPS
Michael ArmeyPsychiatry
David BadreCLPS
Iris BaharEngineering
Kenny BreuerEngineering
Chris BullEngineering
Andrew FosterEconomics
Stephen GatesyEcology & Evolutionary Biology
 Stuart Geman Applied Mathematics
Ian GonsherEngineering
Amy GreenwaldComputer Science
Matthew HarrisonApplied Math
Jim KellnerEcology & Evolutionary Biology
Jun Ki LeeComputer Science
Michael LittmanComputer Science
James MacGlashanComputer Science
Jack MustardEarth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
Sherief RedaEngineering
Tom RobertsEcology & Evolutionary Biology
Thomas SerreCLPS
Steven SlomanCLPS
Joo-Hyun SongCLPS
Erik SudderthComputer Science
Gabriel TaubinEngineering
Stefanie TellexComputer Science
Daniel UllmanCLPS
Eli UpfalComputer Science
Xuan ZhaoCLPS

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