Zhi Jane Li

Prof-JaneAssistant Professor

  • Email: zli11@wpi.edu
  • Office: 85 Prescott 223C
  • Lab: 85 Prescott 224
  • Tel: (508) 831-6351


  • Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2014
  • M.A.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria, BC, Canada, 2009
  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, with minor in Computer Science, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China, 2006

Position Held

  • 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

My research on the synergy of human and robotic systems aims to develop motion and task planning strategies for wearable and humanoid robots, based on the behavior and preference demonstrated in human motion coordination and task plans. For wearable robots such as the upper limb exoskeletons for stroke rehabilitation, the arm posture of the robots cannot be appropriately determined using the general kinematic redundancy resolution methods for manipulation robots, yet it can be accurately predicted based on human perception-action coordination. Such bio-inspired motion planning is applicable not only to the wearable robots with human-compatible physical structures, but to robots that are quite different from human in embodiment. For instance, the coordination of surgical robot arm with tool tips, as well as the complex motion coordination of a mobile humanoid robots, can be both be inspired by the macro- and micro-structure coordination and perception-action coordination revealed in human motion control.

At WPI, my research focuses on the shared-autonomous control of tele-nursing robots. My projects on shared autonomous perception-action coordination and fatigue-adaptive teleoperation interface investigate how the understanding of human behavior and preference in various motion coordinations can be used to design a better human-robot teaming that that reduce human operator’s cognitive and physical efforts. I also develop high-fidelity computational human model, for accurate performance assessment and behavior prediction in 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

Invited talks & Presentations

  • 2019/03/08, Invited talk at Brown University
  • 2019/02/22, Invited talk at University of New Hampshire
  • 2017/06/02, Presentation at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2017, Singapore, 29 May-3 June, 2017
    • Title: A Study of Bidirectionally Telepresent Tele-Action During Robot-Mediated Handover
    • Title: Development of a Tele-Nursing Mobile Manipulator for Remote Care-giving in Quarantine Areas
  • 2016/12/13, Presentation at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),
    • Title: Toward Synergy of Human and Robotic Systems
  • 2015/08, Presentation at IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC)
    • Title: A Novel Method for Quantifying Arm Motion Similarity
  • 2015/06, Presentation at Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), Human-Robot Handover Workshop
    • Predicting Object Transfer Position and Timing in Human-robot Handover Tasks
  • 2009/08, Presentation at IEEE International Conference on Mechatronics and Automation (ICMA)
    • Title: Comparison of Power- and Wave-based Control of Remote Dynamic Proxies for Networked Haptic Cooperation

Professional Service

  • Associate Editor
    • 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
    • 2019 Ubiquitous Robots (UR)
  • Reviewer for Journal & Conference Proceedings
    • IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) and RA-Letter,
    • International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
    • Dynamic Systems and Control Conference (DSCC)
    • International Conference on Intelligent Robots
    • Ubiquitous Robots
    • PLOS ONE
  • Prof. Jeanine Skorinko, Department of Social Science and Policy Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Prof. Mike Gennert, Department of Computer Science & Robotics Engineering Program, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Paula Bylaska-Davies, Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Worcester State University
  • Postdoc advisor Prof Kris Hauser at Duke University Intelligent Motion Lab
  • PhD advisor Prof Jacob Rosen at UCLA Bionics Lab
  • Master advisor Prof Daniela Constantinescu at University of Victoria (BC, Canada)