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Joint Improvised
Threat Defeat Agency




The MITRE Corporation





NERVE Center Personnel

Holly Yanco


Holly Yanco is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Director of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. She was named Distinguished University Professor at the university in 2015. Her research interests include human-robot interaction, multi-touch computing, interface design, robot autonomy, fostering trust of autonomous systems, evaluation methods for human-robot interaction, and the use of robots in K-12 education to broaden participation in computer science. Yanco's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER Award, the Army Research Office, DARPA, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM), NIST, and Google. Yanco was the General Chair of the 2012 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction and the co-chair of the conference's steering committee from 2013-2016. She served on the Executive Council of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) from 2006-2009 and was the Symposium Chair for AAAI from 2002-2005. She is a senior member of AAAI. Yanco has a PhD and MS in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a BA in Computer Science and Philosophy from Wellesley College.

Adam Norton

Assistant Director

Adam Norton is the Assistant Director of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. His research interests include the design of robot control interfaces, evaluation methods for robots and end users, and using robotics for outreach with students. At the NERVE Center Adam is responsible for evaluating robot capabilities and developing new test methods for robots and end users of robots. He has developed test methods with NIST for response robots (ASTM E54.08.01) and autonomous industrial vehicles (ASTM F45), evaluated human-robot interaction (HRI) at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. Adam has worked in the Robotics Lab at UMass Lowell since 2006 as the media and graphic designer. Adam has also aided in designing and fabricating robot modifications for some of the lab's robots. He is an instructor and core member of the Artbotics program, which combines art, computer science, and robotics to create interactive, kinetic sculptures. He graduated from UMass Lowell in 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art and Graphic Design.


Brian Flynn

Test Engineer, Research Assistant


Brendan Haugland

Test Engineer, Maintenance


Michael McGinty

Network Administrator, Camera System Engineer, Developer


Joe Meli

Research Assistant

Affiliated Faculty

Jill Drury

Dr. Jill Drury received a BA in Physics from Macalester College in 1980. She received MS degrees in Business Administration and Management in 1986 and Computer Science in 1994, both from Boston University. A Doctor of Science (Sc.D) degree in Computer Science followed from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2002. Her research interests are in optimizing interactive technologies for team-based decision-making in safety-critical applications; particularly for work with robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, and command and control systems. Drury is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she is also the Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction, and she is an Associate Department Head at The MITRE Corporation.

Pradeep Kurup

Dr. Pradeep Kurup graduated in 1985, with a B.Tech. in Civil Engineering from the University of Kerala, India. He received his M.Tech. in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (1987). He holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (1993) from Louisiana State University (LSU) Dr. Kurup is the recipient of the prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (1999-2003), for his integrated research and education plan on developing Innovative Technologies for Expedited Site Characterization in the New Millennium. He was also awarded the 1999 CERF Career Development Award by the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF, ASCE). Dr. Kurups research has been supported by Federal & State agencies (National Science Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, National Research Council, Louisiana Department of Transportation). He has developed collaborations with industry, academia and state agencies (including Geoprobe Systems Inc., Fugro Engineers Inc., Netherlands & USA, SAGE Engineering, and many more). Dr. Kurup's area of specialization is geotechnical engineering. He has vast expertise in advanced experimental techniques (laboratory and in-situ) and in analytical modeling (constitutive modeling, finite element analysis, and artificial neural networks). He is also specialized in instrumentation & data acquisition for geotechnical systems and has directed and assisted in several in situ testing projects. He has done extensive research in the areas of site characterization & monitoring, application of novel sensing technology to geotechnical & geo-environmental engineering, calibration chamber testing, soil-structure interaction, and "Seeing-Ahead Techniques" for trenchless technologies. Dr. Kurup has published his research contributions in several peer reviewed journals and noteworthy conferences proceedings. He has also made numerous presentations at national/international conferences & symposiums.

Yan Luo

Dr. Yan Luo is an Associate Professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California Riverside in 2005 and joined the faculty of UMass Lowell in the same year. While his research interests span computer architecture and network systems, Prof. Luo's current projects focus on programmable network processing, heterogeneous architecture and systems, and smartphone based computing. He and his team aim to design and build novel microprocessors and systems to facilitate intelligent networking, deeply embedded sensing, and medical applications. Prof. Luo directs the Laboratory of Computer Architecture and Network Systems (, which has been supported by National Science Foundation, Intel, Raytheon/BBN, Xilinx and Altera. Prof. Luo has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers with one best paper award, and been on the review panels and program committees for numerous highly ranked IEEE/ACM journals and conferences. Prof. Luo is a member of IEEE and ACM.

Ramaswamy Nagarajan

Dr. Ramaswamy Nagarajan is an Assistant Professor of Plastics Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and faculty director of the HEROES Initiative. His research is in the area of greener routes to the synthesis and processing of polymeric materials. Dr. Nagarajan has developed ‘benign’ enzymatic/biomimetic routes for synthesizing electrically conducting & photoresponsive polymers. Dr. Nagarajan also has extensive experience in molecularly integrated hybrid nanomaterials and in incorporating electro-active/ photo-responsive polymers into bio-based materials (such as DNA, enzymes/proteins) to create novel responsive hybrid materials. More recently he has also investigated the enzymatic modification of ‘Green tea catechins’ for the design of novel therapeutic materials (anticancer applications). Dr. Nagarajan’s industrial experience includes design and development of detection systems for explosives at Advanced Surface Technology Products Inc. and his more recent role as innovations scientist at FLEXcon Inc., specializing in the areas of coatings and roll-to-roll manufacture of flexible electronic products. Dr. Nagarajan’s teaching interests include polymers from renewable resources [a new course ‘26.596: Plastics, elastomers and additives from renewable resource’ introduced in 2007], rubber technology, thermal and morphological characterization of materials. Dr. Nagarajan’s combination of experience in science and engineering will be useful in advancing the plastics engineering department’s research and educational efforts in the area of renewable plastics and elastomeric materials.

Ioannis Raptis

Dr. Ioannis Raptis joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2012. He is the director of the Autonomous Robotic Systems Laboratory (ARSL). Dr. Raptis received his Dipl-Ing. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and his Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2003 and 2006, respectively. In 2010 he received his Ph.D. degree in the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of South Florida. In the same year he joined the Intelligent Control Systems Laboratory (ICSL) and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. From October 2011 to August 2012 he had a joint appointment with ICSL and the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory (ASDL) in the department of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interest are in autonomous robotic vehicles, coordination and control of multi-agent dynamic systems, path planning and trajectory generation, rotorcraft/aircraft control and system identification and fault tolerant control.

Anna Rumshisky

Dr. Anna Rumshisky is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her primary area of research is natural language processing. Her work focuses on the development of data-informed unsupervised machine learning methods for robust information extraction, predictive modeling, and text-based temporal reasoning. Dr. Rumshisky received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brandeis University. Dr. Rumshisky is a research affiliate at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT.

Kate Saenko

Dr. Kate Saenko is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her research spans the areas of computer vision, machine learning, speech recognition, and human- robot interfaces. She is currently involved in a large multi-institution NSF-sponsored project, conducting research in statistical scene understanding and physics-based visual reasoning. She is also the PI on DARPA’s Mind's Eye project, developing models for recognizing and describing human activities.

Jay Weitzen

Dr. Weitzen received is PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1983. He is currently in his 27th year as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His areas of research are in the modeling, performance, design, and optimization of large military and commercial wireless networks. From 1983 through 1990 his research focused on beyond line of sight VHF and UHF propagation and communication for Air Force, Navy and other military customers. This included characterizing aurora, meteor, ionospheric and tropospheric scatter propagation and communication. From 1990 through 1995 he worked with DOT/FAA to understand interference between commercial TV transmitters and airborne GPS receivers and interference to other aircraft navigation systems. From 1995 through 2008 his research focused on developing tools and techniques for deploying, measuring, and optimizing the new third generation (3G) CDMA wireless technology and then 4G LTE technologies. He worked with both major commercial operators and infrastructure vendors. He developed propagation and coverage prediction tools as well as techniques for feeding back network performance data into network design and optimization process. Starting in 2008 he began to work in the newly developing field of small cells and femtocells, developing techniques to help manage and measure performance of a 700,000 femtocell network for one of the largest US operators and for several overseas operators. He is senior member of IEEE and has 2 patents, 5 published book chapters, and over 100 publications on wireless communication.

Yuanchang Xie

Dr. Yuanchang Xie received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering in 2007 from Texas A&M University, College Station. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell. Prior to joining UMass Lowell, he worked at South Carolina State University as an assistant professor. His research focuses on intelligent transportation systems, traffic safety, traffic control and simulation, traffic flow data modeling, and GIS- T. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles in these areas and served as a reviewer/guest editor/editorial board member for more than 20 international journals and conferences. His research has been supported by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of Energy, and Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation. Dr. Xie is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Transportation Safety Management Committee and Transportation of Hazardous Materials Committee.



UMass Lowell NERVE Center, 110 Canal Steet, Lowell, MA 01852
For more information, please contact or call 978-934-6600