Zhi Jane Li

Prof-JaneAssistant Professor

  • Email: zli11@wpi.edu
  • Office: Unity Hall 283
  • Lab: Unity Hall 200A


Position Held

  • 2017/01-present, Assistant Professor, Robotics Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • 2015/01-2016/05, Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University
  • 2009/09-2014/12, Research/Teaching Assistant, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 2012/06-2012/09, Software engineer, Polaris Wireless
  • 2007/01-2009/04, Research/Teaching assistant, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Research Interest

  • Dr. Jane Li is an Assistant Professor with the Robotics Engineering Department, with an affiliation in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her research focuses on developing shared autonomous control and augmented reality interfaces, in order to enhance the human-robot teaming in remote perception and robot manipulation tasks. Her research aims to develop efficient, intuitive, and transparent human-robot interaction and interfaces for the healthcare workers novice to robot operation, such that they can control mobile manipulator nursing robots for pandemic and remote patient care in the future of work. She collaborates with the faculty of WPI Social Science Department and the Nursing Department of Worcester State University in several interdisciplinary NSF projects, to study the technological and social impacts of nursing robots on current and future healthcare workers.

Selected Publications


  • Analytical Framework for AI/AA — “Testing & Evaluation for Soldier-Device Teaming Compatibility, Vulnerability, and Durability in Emergent Situations”; Role: co-PI,  Team Lead on “Evaluation and Evolution of Human-AI and Human-Robot Interfaces”; WPI collaborator: Bogdan Vernescu (PI), Jing Xiao, Soussan Dja-masbi; Funded by US Army, DEVCOM Analysis Center; Awarded funds: $5,283,619.00 (for 5 years); $999,997.00 (Year 1); Fund for Team: $332,986 (Year 1); 2022/01/15-2027/01/14 (Expected); 2022/01-2023/01 (Current Contract).
  • SEMI-FlexTech #FT19-21-215 — “Soft Robotic Haptic Gloves as Intuitive Human-Machine Interfaces to Augment Human Performance”; Role: Co-PI; WPI Collaborator: Pratap Rao (ME, PI), Cagdas Onal (RBE); UMass-Lowell Collaborators: Joey Mead, Chris Hansen, Jay Park, Jinde Zhang; Funded by SEMI-FlexTech and Massachusetts Manufacturing Investment Initiative (M2I2); Awarded funds: $1,764,938; 2021/11/01-2023/04/40.
  • NSF Award#2024802 — “Collaborative Research: NRI: INT: Transparent and Intuitive Teleoperation Interfaces for the Future Nursing Robots and Workers“, PI: Jane Li, Co-PI: Cagdas Onal, Jie Fu, Jeanine Skorinko and Yunus Telliel; $731,329, 2020/09/01-2023/08/31, in collaboration with the Nursing Department of Worcester State University,. The three year project is jointly funded by NSF and NIOSH/CDC. (see the CDC media release).
  • NSF Award#1922761 — “NRT-FW-HTF: Robotic Interfaces and Assistants for the Future of Work”, PI: Cagdas Onal, Co-PI: Jing Xiao, Zhi Li, Pratap Rao and Yunus Telliel; $2,999,998.00, 2019/09/01-2024/08/31.

Selected Professional Service

  • Associate Editor
    • International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2019-2023
    • IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2022-2023
    • Ubiquitous Robots (UR) 2019-2020
  • NSF Panelists (2019, 2021, 2022)


  • 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Finalist of Best Paper for Human-Robot Interaction
  • 2014/09-2014/12, Teaching assistant sabbatical, for outstanding TA service
  • 2011, Mei Wang Fellowship for Women in Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • AY 2009-2010, University of California, Regent Fellowship