Closing the loop: a talk with Dr. Mazzolai about pioneers, faith & interdisciplinarity in robotics

In the seventh episode of our "Women in Blue" interview series we invited Prof. Dr. Barbara Mazzolai to talk about bio-inspired robotics.


Prof. Dr. Barbara Mazzolai is Associate Director for Robotics and Director of the Bioinspired Soft Robotics Laboratory at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). From February 2011 to March 2021 she was the Director of the IIT Center for Micro-BioRobotics (CMBR). She graduated in Biology at the University of Pisa (Italy) in 1995, obtained an International Master Diploma in Eco-Management in 1998 at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA), and in 2011 the Ph.D. in Microsystems Engineering from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Having a long experience as researcher and project manager of European projects in the topics of biorobotics, soft robotics and environmental robotics, Dr. Mazzolai has published more than 270 papers in international journals, books and conference proceedings.


In the interview, Dr. Mazzolai shares her complex research path, that took her from biology, to eco-management and eventually to microsystems engineering, closing the loop on her interest in biology/plants. In the interview we find out which are the challenges of coming up with breakthrough research, the role of interdisciplinary in today's complex robotics research environment, as well as the importance of following one's own passion and keeping the faith that with motivation and hard work results will follow. Dr. Mazzolai strongly believes that women's role is essential in new and transdisicplinary research contexts as: "women in technology can bring something different, in terms of approach, in terms of vision, which is not necessarily better but different. This is exactly what we need, a different vision and approach to new problems that we have (e.g. green technology)."


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