Rising Stars 2020:

Patricia Alves-Oliveira

Postdoctoral Researcher

University of Washington

PhD '20 University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal (ISCTE)

Areas of Interest

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Human-Robot Interaction


Robots that Enhance Human Experience


Patricia Alves-Oliveira uses interactive robots as tools that transform and enhance the human experience by promoting human-to-human connection and nurturing intrinsic human abilities. Towards this goal, she designs, develops, and evaluates robots that impact key areas of human experiences, such as creativity and wellness. Patricia investigates new ways to understand human behavior when interacting with robots, developing new methodologies for designing robot behaviors, and exploring the robot’s form factors, including its aesthetics. In her work, she has designed and developed a robot that stimulates creativity in children during pretend play. Additionally, Patricia relies on established theories from the field of psychology to better understand how to develop behaviors for robots. An illustration of this type of work was the adaptation of validated psychological therapies that promote mental health onto a robot. By including an interactive robot as an intervention tool, she explored novel ways to deliver mental health therapy that is scalable to the broader population. Patricia’s work is centered around human ethics, where the values of the user are brought to light and are the main propulsor to study how a robot should behave, how to treat human data in robotics research, and what are the users’ expectations from robotic technology. Her work has impacts in the fields of engineering, psychology, and design research.


Patricia Alves-Oliveira is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the field of Human-Robot Interaction. She is part of the Human-Centered Robotics Lab with Prof. Maya Cakmak at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Patricia received her PhD in Human-Robot Interaction in 2020 from Iscte and spent time at INESC-ID and Cornell University as a research scholar. She was co-advised by Patrícia Arriaga, Ana Paiva, and Guy Hoffman and her doctoral thesis was about using robots to nurture human creativity.

Patricia is passionate about designing, developing, and evaluating human-centric and long-term envisioned interactions with robots. Her research lies at the intersection of computer science, mechanical engineering, psychology, and design research. The interdisciplinary nature of her work promotes a deeper understanding of how to develop and deploy robotic systems in the world that can enhance the human experience.

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