The Interactive Robotics and Language Lab

My work focuses on the problem of grounded language acquisition: extracting semantically meaningful representations of human language by mapping those representations to the noisy, unpredictable physical world in which robots operate. I combine robotics, natural language processing, and machine learning to build systems that non-specialists can instruct, control, and interact with intuitively and naturally. More specifically, I work on combining probabilistic, grammar-based natural language processing with machine learning to transform human communication into a formal language that a robot can understand.

I and my students study using this kind of language learning to show how robots can learn to follow instructions or learn about the world. This not only makes robots more useful, but also demonstrates the power of combining robotics with machine learning (pretty common) and natural language processing (less common). This is part of the developing field of HRI, or human-robot interaction.

More visual? Here's a word cloud created automatically from all my paper abstracts:

Potential students: If you are curious about joining my research group, check out the IRAL lab web page to get some background on the kind of work we do, and send me email or stop by. I would encourage you to take a look at some of the papers and be ready to talk about what you find interesting about our area specifically, as well as research in general.


I primarily teach courses on artificial intelligence, robotics, human-robot interaction, and ethics in computing. In Fall 2017 I will be teaching graduate introduction to artificial intelligence; interested EE, ECE and ME students are encouraged to contact me to discuss whether the class may be of interest.

About Me

I joined the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering department at UMBC as an assistant professor in autumn of 2014, after obtaining my Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Seattle, where was co-advised by Dieter Fox and Luke Zettlemoyer.

Videos of Our Work

Planning Two-Handed Grasps
Playing Chess
Learning how People Communicate