IJtsma lands prestigious NSF Early CAREER Award

Posted: March 14, 2023
A man sitting behind mechanical pieces

One of the most prestigious honors open to professors early in their avocation is the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. So, when ISE Assistant Professor Martijn IJtsma learned that he had received the award on his first submission, he was understandably elated. 

“It’s a recognition of the hard work we are doing in the lab,” he says. “I’m excited we get to further advance this line of research.” 

IJtsma’s research and the award are for his work on “Making Robots More Cooperative Agents: Controlling Costs of Coordination through Graph-based Models of Joint Activity.” 

According to his project summary, his career goal is to “contribute foundational knowledge for making robots cooperative partners with human stakeholders.” 

“The deployment of smart robots promises increased safety, productivity and capability in domains such as disaster and emergency response, ground mobility, manufacturing, aviation and space operations,” he says. “Good human-robot collaboration is key to the realization of these promises. 

“The research combines theories from cognitive and social sciences with techniques from graph theory and agent-based modeling to analyze and design joint activity in human-robot systems.” 

IJtsma says it is a research area he has been working on for a couple of years now. “As part of this project, we’re going to be integrating educational activities into the research we’re doing in the lab,” he says, “aimed at training students and professionals in systems thinking and interdisciplinary discourse.” 

In addition, he is planning to incorporate a robotics program for undergraduate students and provide outreach to K-12 students. “We’ll also actively involve graduate students in the research,” IJtsma says. 

The CAREER grant provides $554,000 over five years for the project. IJtsma submitted his application last July and says he received support through a workshop series offered by Ohio State, which encourages faculty to apply for the early career award. 

“I followed that two years ago and it helped me to understand the process in applying for such awards,” IJtsma says, adding that he also received generous help and support from his mentors at the University and in the ISE Department. 

Awards like this, IJtsma says, acknowledge the importance and potential of the research taking place at Ohio State. “The award provides a strong foundation for advancing this long-term vision of more robust and resilient human-robot operations,” he says.  


Story by Nancy Richison

Category: Faculty