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Kirstin Hagelskjær Petersen

  • Kirstin Hagelskjær Petersen
  • Dept: Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Address: 324 Frank H T Rhodes Hall
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Kirstin H. Petersen is Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is interested in design and coordination of bio-inspired robot collectives and studies of their natural counterparts; especially in relation to construction. Her thesis work on a termite-inspired robot construction team was featured in and on the cover of Science and was ranked among the journals top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2014.  
Kirstin did her postdoctoral work with Director Metin Sitti at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems 2014-2016 and became a fellow with the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems in 2015. Her thesis was completed in 2014 with Professor Radhika Nagpal at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. She completed a masters in Computer Systems Engineering with Professor John Hallam at the University of Southern Denmark 2008, and a bachelor in electro-technical engineering with Odense University College of Engineering 2005. 


Selected Publications

  • Hines, L., K. Petersen, G Z. Lum, M Sitti. 2016. "Soft Actuators for Small-Scale Robotics." Advanced Materials 1521-4095.
  • Hines, L., K. Petersen, M Sitti. 2016. "Inflated Soft Actuators with Reversible Stable Deformations." Advanced Materials 28 (19): 3690-3696.
  • Petersen, Kirstin, P. Bardunias, N. Napp, J. Werfel, R. Nagpal, S. Turner. 2015. "Arrestant property of recently manipulated soil on Macrotermes michaelseni as determined through visual tracking and automatic labeling of individual termite behaviors.." Journal of Behavioral Processes 116: 8-11.
  • Werfel, J., Kirstin Petersen, R. Nagpal. 2014. "Designing collective behavior in a termite-inspired robot construction team." Science 343 (6172): 754-758.
  • Petersen, Kirstin, J. Werfel, R. Nagpal. 2011. "TERMES: An Autonomous Robotic System for Three-Dimensional Collective Construction."

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Elisabeth Schiemann Kolleg Fellow with the Max Planck Society 2016
  • Max Planck Fellowship for Postdoctoral work (10/22/2014-07/01/2016) 2014
  • Research ranked 4th in Science Magazine's Top 10 Scientific Achievements of 2014 (Science Magazine) 2014



  • B. Sc. (Electro-technical Engineering), Odense University College of Engineering, 2006
  • MSc (Computer Systems Engineering), University of Southern Denmark, 2008
  • Ph D (Computer Science), Harvard University, 2014