GDD #63 Bristol Women in Robotics



Introduction by Dr Catherine Hobbs – Head of the Department of Engineering, Design and Mathematics at UWE

Catherine is Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics within the Faculty of Environment and Technology at UWE.  A mathematician by training she has spent over 20 years in the university environment at a range of different universities in the UK and overseas (Nottingham, Oxford Brookes, Auckland, Bristol and now UWE).  This has included teaching, research and consultancy and, more recently, management.

Dr Antonia Tzemanaki is a Lecturer in Mechatronics at the University of the West of England and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, working on developing and testing novel instruments and intuitive human-robot interaction systems for wearable robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery. She holds a MEng degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, an MSc in Robotics from the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK and a PhD in Medical Robotics from the University of the West of England and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. She is also organising the local Women In Robotics group (twitter: @WirBristol), a support network for women that are working or are interested in robotics. As part of the worldwide network of women in robotics, it is aimed at promoting networking as well as the visibility of women and their work in robotics.

Talk overview:

In her talk, Antonia will discuss some of her research, where she has collaborated with surgeons on developing the ‘μAngelo’ surgical system aiming at tele-operation and natural manipulation of tissues for improving dexterity and ergonomics in surgical procedures. She has extended this work in ‘SMARTsurg’ (SMart wearAble Robotic Teleoperated surgery), an H2020 funded EU project, which aims to develop an advanced system for robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery, in the areas of urology, cardiology and orthopaedic surgery, that reduces the surgeon’s cognitive load related to the system’s operation, shortens training time and delivers accuracy, reduced procedure time and safety.


Gloria Araiza is a Biomedical Engineer from Mexico, with a Masters in Robotics from the University of Bristol. She just started the fourth year of her PhD in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Autonomous and Robotic Systems, FARSCOPE, in the Bristol Robotics Lab.

Talk overview:

Tactile sensations result from the activation of cutaneous mechanoreceptors, which transform the mechanical stimuli on the skin into electrical signals. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method that has been used in neuroscience to study the production of tactile sensations in extremities.

Controlling nerve selectivity in mechanisms based on TENS could increase the amount of information that systems could supply for medical, teleoperation, industrial and gaming applications, i.e. providing haptic feedback.

This work involves the development of a TENS system and its comparison with a mechanical stimulation system, in a simulated environment and evaluating the performance of the hardware implementation. The main objective is to study the dependency on the TENS design, particularly on the electrode layout and excitation patterns (electrical input) related to selective nerve stimulation and different tactile sensations.


Katie Winkle is an interdisciplinary PhD student at the Bristol Robotics Lab investigating the use of social robots for improving engagement in rehabilitative therapies. She previously studied Mechanical Engineering and worked in automotive engineering at Jaguar Land Rover.

Talk overview:

Kate will talk about how she got into robotics, reflect on the switch from automotive engineering and explain the concept of socially assistive robotics.


Pavlina Theodosiou is a 3rd year PhD student working on an interdisciplinary European funded project called Evobliss.  Her background is on Biological Sciences and the focus of her PhD is the interaction between living systems such as Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) and robotics, for optimising the performance of the MFCs.

Talk overview:

In her talk, Pavlina will present the work achieved to this day as part of her PhD project towards the adaptability and stability of the MFC systems using the Evobliss developed robot called EvoBot. She will present the improvements observed through this interaction as well as an overview of the capabilities of such systems.


Marta Palau Franco

Marta Palau Franco is an electronics engineer, oceanographer and currently project manager of the ERL Emergency Robots competition. The European Robotics League (ERL) is funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 and led by SPARC Robotics. She is based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and was previously project manager of the EU-FP7 project euRathlon , which was led by the University of the West of England, Bristol. ERL Emergency Robots and its predecessor euRathlon are an outdoor robotics competition in which teams of land, underwater and flying robots are invited to work collaboratively in realistic, demanding mock emergency-response scenarios, inspired by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


Talk overview:

Marta will talk about her experience in robotics competitions, from her years as member of the robotics team of her University to her current work as project manager of ERL Emergency Robots competition.

Dr Sabine Hauert

Sabine Hauert is Assistant Professor in Robotics at the University of Bristol in the UK. Her research focusses in designing swarms that work in large numbers (>1000), and at small scales (<1 cm). Profoundly cross-disciplinary, Sabine works between Engineering Mathematics, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and Life Sciences. Before joining the University of Bristol, Sabine engineered swarms of nanoparticles for cancer treatment at MIT, and deployed swarms of flying robots at EPFL.

Sabine is also President and Co-founder of, a non-profit dedicated to connecting the robotics community to the world.


Swarm engineering allows us to design self-organised robotic systems that work in large numbers (>1000), and at small scales (<1 cm). Swarm strategies are either inspired from nature (ant colonies, fish shoals, and bird flocks) or are automatically discovered using machine learning and crowdsourcing. Demonstrated applications include the deployment of swarms of flying robots to create outdoor communication networks, or the design of nanosystems for biomedical applications. Current work focusses on the design of cooperative nanoparticles for cancer applications in simulation and under the microscope on tissue-on-a-chip devices, as well as the design of strategies for our 1000 coin-sized robots at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.


Thursday 26th October 6.30/7  – 9pm

Doors open at 18:30, the reception of the Bristol Robotics Lab will be unmanned after 18:50, hence it will be difficult to access (we will leave a number you can call though). Start of talks around 18:50.


The food and hosting is kindly sponsored by the Bristol Women in Robotics based at

Bristol Robotics Laboratory, BRL Seminar Room

Please enter the Frenchay Campus through the North Entrance and follow the red signs. The Frenchay Campus is easily accessible from Junction 1 of the M32. The M32 joins the M4 at Junction 19. For Satellite Navigation purposes use BS34 8QZ.

Regarding parking:

If you enter via the North Entrance you might encounter a 1st barrier, where (if it is closed) you can buzz and say that you are going to BRL for the event. Driving straight through the roundabout, you will encounter a 2nd barrier which, I was promised, will be up to let you through. In a few meters you will see BRL on your right, in front of which you can park for free.

We are aware that some women will be looking for lifts so please post in the messages any offers of lifts.  I (Serrie) can give up to 4 people lifts from Bristol Templemeads or en route so please let me know if you need one.  Else make your way up there and we can give lifts back – if you don’t get a response mail me on for a more direct response, i’ll be heading up at about 6pm.

Sign Up

As always, we welcome men to our group, but to keep our audience predominantly female, we ask that all men are accompanied by a woman (just add a +1 on the meetup) here Girlgeekdinners Meetup