The Roboceptionist/Social Robot Team

Greg Armstrong-Senior Research Technician SCS

As Senior Research Technician, Greg Armstrong does all of the jobs that no one else volunteers for, as well as keeping the hardware working on Tank and Valerie. He says this job is kind of a mix of his days in the Navy, where he ran a nuclear reactor, and his experience with Pittsburgh's Science Fiction conventions, where he has run the hospitality suite and acted in several of the plays. His stage credits include: Dune, The Soft Rock Musical (everyone who died); The Preview and Review Review (William Riker and Marvin the Martian); The Thing and I (Clark the Dog Handler); My Fair Ladle (Quark); Who Killed Harry Kim [This Time] (Neelix); and 20,000 Leagues of Music (Ned Land).
Allison Bruce-Graduate Student in Robotics





Kirby Fields-Tank Head Writer






Jodi Forlizzi-Assistant Professor-HCI and Design

Jodi Forlizzi is an Assistant Professor of Design and Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an interaction designer contributing to design research focused on the intersection between assistive, aesthetic, and social products. Her current research relates to inclusive design and the design of new categories of products and services, such as service robots. She is also researching and designing interfaces (small, mobile, and ubiquitous) that support the limits of human attention.

Rachel Gockley-PhD Student in Robotics

Rachel Gockley is a Ph.D. student in the Robotics Institute. She recently received her Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Philosophy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests are primarily in the area of human-robot interaction. For the Roboceptionist project, Rachel has worked to give Valerie a memory, so that she can remember people who have visited her before.

Ben Jordan-Playwright

Ben is a recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon graduate dramatic writing program. He now lives in New York city where he is writing and developing work for puppets. He had a great time writing the Therapy monologues for Valerie and hopes to one day get back to Pittsburgh to see the finished project.


James McManus -Playwright
James McManus (Playwright) had his most recent play Bulldog Whiskey read in July as part of the CMU Summer New play Festival. His play, Dorothy 6, was named Best New Play by a Local Playwright by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2004. The Night They Drugged the Orange and Runny Eggs were finalists for the National Playwrights Conference 2000 and 2001 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. James is currently and 2nd year graduate student of playwrighting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and will receive his MFA in May 2006
Tara Meddaugh-Playwright

Tara is a recent graduate of CMU with her MFA in Playwriting. Her plays have been performed at Colgate University (Hamilton, NY), the Earlville Opera House
(Earlville, NY), Carnegie Mellon, and the Sanford Meisner Theatre (NYC). She wrote specifically for Val's work life, and enjoyed collaborating with the writers, designers, and people in the Robotics School.

Marek Michalowski-PHD Student in Robotics

Marek Michalowski is a Ph.D. student at the Robotics Institute. He did his undergraduate work at Yale University. His interests are in social robotics and in the modeling of attention in humans and robots. He has contributed to Tanks and Valerie's ability to use her laser range finder to discover people around her, as well as her capacity to provide assistance in looking up people in the CMU directory.

Anne Mundell-Associate Professor, Drama School

Anne Mundell is an Associate Professor of Scene Deisgn in the Drama School where she is also Head of Design. Her Theater Design and Painting work have been seen in numerous venues across the United States, from San Diego to Boston and Orlando to Las Vegas. Anne runs an outreach program called Growing Theater which pairs at risk middle-schoolers with Carnegie Mellon Mentors as they work writing and producing theater. On the Roboceptionist project, Anne is responsible for coordinating the Drama end, Website creation, modeling Tanks and Valerie's faces and designing Valerie's home in Newell-Simon. Please visit her website at

Sallie Patrick-Playwright

Sallie Patrick was part of the Monologue writing team, and was specifically in charge of the Social storyline for Valerie (Will Valerie meet Mr. Wright? Can she find someone to accept her as the Robot she is? Will Valerie's motherboard ever stop nagging her to find a mate?). Sallie recently graduated from the Drama school's Dramatic Writing program, focusing in Screenwriting. She would like to thank her Motherboard for allowing her to participate in this project.

Stephanie Rosenthal-Student, Computer Science





Alan Schultz-Adjunct Faculty

Alan Schultz is Adjunct Faculty in the Robotics Institute and he commutes from the Naval Research Laboratory where he heads the Intelligent Systems group. Alan's area of research includes human-robot interaction and using computational cognitive models as reasoning mechanisms for robots. On the Valerie project, Alan has been responsible for the chatbot that allows Tank and Valerie to carry on conversations with visitors.

Reid Simmons-Research Professor, Robotics Institute

Reid Simmons is a Research Professor at the Robotics Institute in Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. He has been doing research in the area of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Mobile Robots for over 20 years. His interest in Social Robots dates back more than a decade, when experience with Xavier, an autonomous mobile robot that roamed the halls at CMU, demonstrated how asocialrobots could be. He has worked since then to make robots behave more like people. This work has resulted in GRACE (Graduate Robot Attending ConferencE) followed by Valerie, and now Tank collaborations between Robotics and Drama. He also does research in robot navigation, multi-robot coordination, robot architectures, fault diagnosis and recovery, and planning for autonomous systems.

Kevin Snipes-Former Valerie Head Writer, Playwright

Kevin Christopher Snipes has recently complete his MFA in Dramatic Writing at CMU. His plays have been performed at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Hippodrome Theatre (Florida), and New York Stage & Film (apprentice program). His graduate thesis play, A Bitter Taste, was performed recently in the Wells Studio at CMU.

Brennan Sellner-PhD Student in Robotics

Brennan Sellner is PhD student at the Robotics Institute, where he's been involved with the TRESTLE, GRACE, and Valerie projects. His research interests include sliding autonomy, human/robot skill estimation, compliant coordinated manipulation, and social robotics. Brennan has been responsible for the interface that is used to interact with Val and Tank, system health monitoring, networking, and systems support.


  Mary Unser -Playwright
John Wang-Graduate, School of Computer Science

John was a Senior Computer Science Major, also pursuing a degree in Business Administration. He worked on the direction giver for Valerie and, also wrote the GUI that was used to put together the scripts that Valerie performs.



Tank at work in Newell-Simon