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Rachel Holladay
CS PhD Student, MIT
rhollada [at] mit [dot] edu
Office: MIT 32-331
Pronouns: she/her

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I am on the academic job market for 2023-2024!

I am a PhD student at MIT in EECS where I am co-advised by Alberto Rodriguez and Tomás Lozano-Pérez in the MCube Lab and LIS Group. I have been supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. I previously received a B.S. in Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon.

Research. I am interested in enabling robots to perform dexterous, multi-step manipulation tasks in unstructured environments like homes, schools and hospitals. Tasks such as cooking stir fry or tidying a room, are composed of many, often interdependent, actions and these actions involve generating motions, exerting forces, making and breaking contacts and controlling deformations. Sequencing these actions requires robots to reason over geometric, mechanical and temporal constraints. To accomplish this, my research proposes algorithms and abstractions, drawing from tools in contact mechanics, computational geometry, motion planning, control and task planning, that unite with robot hardware to enable planning and execution of tasks in the real world.

I enjoy deploying my research to real robot hardware. From left-to-right, the top row of videos demonstrate previous contributions on:
Service and Outreach. My aim is to foster greater inclusion and belonging in academia by building supportive communities and to address inequity by advocating for increased transparency. A few major efforts include: 
  • Mentoring gender-minority high school FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams, the Winsor Wildbots (Team 13620) and Winsor Wirecats (Team 20409)
  • Serving in EECS REFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress), a peer support group trained to help fellow graduate students manage stress and conflict
  • Co-founding and co-leading GWiRC (Graduate Women in Robotics Community), a student group focused building a tighter-knit community, across departments, for the female-identifying robotics researchers at MIT
  • Serving on the founding Executive Council for EECS's GAAP (Graduate Application Assistance Program), which provides mentoring and resources to underrepresented communities

Teaching and Mentoring. As a graduate student, I helped design and create an online robotics course, served as a teaching assistant to a robotics manipulation course, and earned a graduate teaching certificate. It is also my joy to work with some really rad students:
  • Current Mentees: Gregory Xie (MIT Masters), Anika Cheerla (MIT Masters), Rachel Lu (MIT Undergraduate), Tarang Lunawat (MIT Undergraduate).
  • Graduated Mentees: Daniella White (MIT Masters), Ashwin Krishna (Harvard Undergraduate).

Miscellaneous. My academic lineage is more of a "family graph" than a "family tree".

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