Lab Director

Prof. Dagmar Sternad

Prof. Dagmar Sternad

Distinguished University Professor

Ph.D., Human Movement Science, Free University of Amsterdam, University of Connecticut, Storrs, U.S.A
M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, U.S.A
B.S/B.A., M.S./M.A., Movement Science and English Linguistics & Literature, Technical University of Munich and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
Email: d.sternad@northeastern.edu

Dagmar grew up in the Bavarian Alps and studied in Munich, Germany. Having been an athlete and dancer from as early as she can remember, she has had an unwavering passion and curiosity for how humans move. After her final university exams, she visited the University of Connecticut for a ‘few months’ to learn more about rhythmic movements – this was more than 30 years ago … After completing her PhD at UConn, she took up a faculty position at Penn State and after 13 years moved to Northeastern University. From her early interest in highly skilled aesthetic movements, she has now also extended her inquiries into impaired movement coordination. Her research has also created bridges to human-robot interaction and movement control in robots.

Link to CV

Lab Members

Salah Bazzi

Salah Bazzi

Research Scientist

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Email: s.bazzi@northeastern.edu

Salah is from Beirut, Lebanon. His central research interest is to understand the acquisition and control of skilled human sensorimotor behavior, with the goal of using that knowledge to endow robots with dexterous capabilities for physical interaction and object manipulation. When Salah is not in the lab, he enjoys playing ‘real football’, which is a sport known by the term ‘soccer’ to Americans. He also loves having deep philosophical conversations about life with his two toddlers.

Hélène Serré

Hélène Serré

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D., Cognitive Sciences, Grenoble Alpes University, France
M.S., Human Movement Science, University of Montpellier, France
M.S. , Method for Complex Data Analysis, University of Cergy-Pontoise, France
B.S., Economics and Statistics, Toulouse school of Economics, France
Email: h.serr@northeastern.edu

Hélène grew up in southern France and has studied in several different French cities. During her first master’s degree, she investigated the kinematic differences between instrumental and artistic motion in the living arts. She also worked on how humanoid robots in interpersonal coordination tasks may increase physical activity of schizophrenic patients. For her Ph.D. degree she studied the interactions between speech, breathing and limb movements. Currently, Hélène is working on a project that investigates how timing in skilled action influences temporal perception, in collaboration with Prof. Joo-Hyun Song at Brown University. In addition to her studies, Hélène has received training in drama and acting, and she enjoys taking dance classes in her free time.

Rakshith Lokesh

Rakshith Lokesh

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering And Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, U.S.A.
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, India.
Email: r.lokesh@northeastern.edu

Rakshith (Rak) Lokesh is from Bangalore, the Garden City of India. Rak is curious about the mechanisms used by our central nervous system to generate seemingly simple musculoskeletal movements and interact with our environment. In the lab, he researches how we learn to manipulate objects with underactuated dynamics. Being an engineer at heart, he is passionate about applying scientific research findings to develop human-machine interfaces. Outside work Rak likes playing acoustic guitar, dancing, practicing capoeira and playing cricket. He loves engaging in deep philosophical conversations with toddlers too.

Mahdiar Edraki

Mahdiar Edraki

Ph.D. Candidate

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, U.S.A
Email: edraki.m@northeastern.edu

Mahdiar was born in Shiraz, Iran, but grew up in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. His current research is on physical human robot interaction. Using motor control principles, Mahdi explores methods to improve trajectory planning for robots when performing a task in physical collaboration with a human. He is a recipient of the 21st Century Leaders Award from UMass Amherst. In his free time he enjoys riding his bike and he loves to print new gadgets on his 3-D printer. In August 2019 he completed his first ever century bike ride (100 miles).

Aleksei Krotov

Aleksei Krotov

Ph.D. Candidate

M.S., Bioengineering, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
B.S./M.S., Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia
Email: krotov.a@northeastern.edu

Aleksei is from Russia beyond the Ural. Aleksei came to the US as a Fulbright Foreign Graduate Fellow. His master’s thesis has been on ‘tool use’, specifically on how humans crack a whip, a somewhat crazy, but also perfect example for the immense dexterity that humans can display. Given the fascinating challenges in this high-dimensional motor skill, he continues with this research for his graduate degree. From the many results from his analyses, Aleksei aims to discover the underlying mechanisms of human motor control. In his spare time Aleksei enjoys dancing, hiking and photography. In the near future he hopes to adopt a dog.

Nora Blodgett

Nora Blodgett

Ph.D. Candidate

M.S., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
B.S., Engineering, Swarthmore College, Philadelphia, U.S.A
Email: blodgett.l@northeastern.edu

Nora is from Flagstaff, Arizona. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, she took an interdisciplinary approach towards engineering. Nora has an interest in using computational techniques such as machine learning and signal processing methods to better understand questions pertaining to human movement and motor control. She received the Clare Booth Fellowship to work as a research assistant in the Action Lab. Outside of her academic pursuits, Nora is a competitive runner in cross country and track. Her favorite racing event is the 3000m steeplechase, which involves jumping over multiple barriers as well as a water pit!

Krishna Sarvani "Vani" Desabhotla

Krishna Sarvani "Vani" Desabhotla

Ph.D. Candidate

M.S., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
B.S., Honors Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, U.S.A
Email: desabhotla.k@northeastern.edu

Vani comes from Houston, Texas. Her research interests include exploring motor control and learning, and brain-machine interfaces. Her undergraduate research work was focused on automating brace design and EEG-based brain-computer interfaces. In her free time, Vani likes to go on long walks, practice yoga, and read speculative fiction about how science shapes our society. Before coming to Boston, Houston was the coldest place Vani has lived in. 

Sabra Sisler

Sabra Sisler

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

B.S., Computer Science, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
B.S., Behavioral Neuroscience, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
Email: sisler.s@northeastern.edu

Sabra is from Bethesda, Maryland. She will be pursuing a PhD program in biomedical engineering starting in fall 2024 at Stanford. She joined the Action Lab as an Undergraduate Research Fellow investigating the role of motor adaptation with assistive and rehabilitative devices. When not in the lab, she enjoys camping, listening to audiobooks, playing board games, and eating pomegranates. 

Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

B.S., Biology,  Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A

Email: young.jess@northeastern.edu

Jessica Young is from Warren, New Jersey. She originally joined the lab as an undergraduate student with an interest in investigating the link between timing in skilled motor performance and time perception. Continuing since her graduation in December 2023, she plans on attending paramedic school in the spring of 2025 before eventually applying to medical school. Currently, her hobbies include reading, going to the gym, and spoiling her new kitten!

Sidharth Annapragada

Sidharth Annapragada

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

B.S., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
B.S., Behavioral Neuroscience, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A
Email: annapragada.s@northeastern.edu

Sidharth Annapragada is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His experience includes mechanical design, embedded firmware, and software development for robotics. He is interested in gaining a better understanding of the brain through an engineering lens, and in applying neuroscience to engineering. In his spare time, Sid likes to rock climb and read. He has cooked every dish from the book series Redwall but also loves to create unique foods.

Recent Alumni

Mohsen Sadeghi

Mohsen Sadeghi

Research Scientist Alumni, now research scientist at Liquid Wire Inc.

Ph.D., Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
B.S./M.S., Mechanical Engineering,  Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran.
Email: m.sadeghi@northeastern.edu

Mohsen is from Isfahan, Iran. His research focuses on the computational aspects of motor control and motor learning. Specifically, he is interested in computational models of behavior that can explain complex and skillful object manipulation in humans and monkeys. Mohsen has a (rusty) black belt in Karate, and enjoys Persian poetry, reading novels, and having deep philosophical conversations with Salah’s two toddlers!

Rashida Nayeem

Rashida Nayeem

Ph.D. Alumni, Now research scientist at Apple

M.S., Columbia University, New York City, Biomedical Engineering
B.S., Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Electrical Engineering
Email: nayeem.r@northeastern.edu

Rashida Nayeem is from Hartford, Connecticut. Her primary research interests are investigating human control of underactuated nonlinear objects and the strategies humans use to stabilize these objects. She is currently collaborating on a project with Dr. David Lin of Massachusetts General Hospital, analyzing EEG signals and kinematic data in acute stroke patients as they move a complex object. In her spare time Rashida enjoys practicing yoga, skiing and reading. A fun fact about her is that she loves sharks and has been shark cage diving in Cape Town, South Africa.

Sabrina Bond

Sabrina Bond

Undergraduate Alumni, Now Research Technician at Stanford University

B.S., Northeastern University, Behavioral Neuroscience
Email: bond.s@northeastern.edu

Sabrina joined the Action Lab to pursue research on motor challenges in individuals with autism. Over the past three years, she has explored motor control and computational techniques to understand the predictive impairments of the disorder. She received the Schafer Research Scholarship to work full time as a research coop in the Action Lab. Sabrina now aims to pursue an MD-PhD and hopes to contribute to the ongoing clinical and basic research of neurodegenerative diseases. Being originally from
Brazil, you can always find Sabrina wearing the thickest winter gear on campus.

Reza Sharif Razavian

Reza Sharif Razavian

Postdoctoral Alumni, Now Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University

Ph.D./MASc, University of Waterloo, Canada, Systems Design Engineering
B.S., Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, Mechanical Engineering

Reza is from Tehran, Iran. In his research work he seeks to find out if robots can be like humans or can humans be studied as robots? He borrows from control theory and dynamical system analysis tools to better understand how humans move and interact with their environment. Reciprocally, the gained insights may lead to more agile and dexterous robots. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow supported by the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research fellowship. Outside the lab Reza enjoys hiking and woodworking. A fun fact is that Reza has a (very) sweet tooth and loves baking cake for his labmates.

Carissa Aekins

Carissa Aekins

M.S. Alumni, Now Clinical Research Associate at Syneos Health

M.S., Northeastern University,  Biology
B.S., University of Connecticut, Physiology and Neurobiology

Carissa joined our lab in the middle of the pandemic. She is interested in motor control in neurologically impaired populations. She has joined our research on autism, conducting a study that tests predictive abilities in individuals with autism. In her spare time, she likes to travel, dance, and practice card throwing. So far, she has been successful and traveled to 20 different countries within 5 continents.

Marta Russo

Marta Russo

Postdoctoral Alumni. Now Junior Research Professor at the Policlinico at University of Tor Vergata in Rome

Ph.D., Tor Vergata University, Rome, Neuroscience
M.S., Sapienza University, Rome, Neuroscience
B.S., Sapienza University, Rome, Physics

Marta is from Italy. She is interested in neuromuscular mechanisms at multiple scales, from postural control and human-human interaction in professional dancers to reaching and catching in clinical populations. Her approach includes virtual environments and computational modeling. She is a recipient of the Society for Neural Control 2020 Scholarship and she has applied her experience as a Virtual Reality Design Intern at Facebook Reality Labs. She enjoys doing puzzles, practicing yoga and she is a ‘Friends’ pundit, her roommates even call her Monica!

Ian Zuzarte

Ian Zuzarte

Ph.D. Alumni. Now Senior Research Scientist at Dräger Medical Devices in Andover, MA

Ph.D., Northeastern University, Bioengineering
M.S., University of Akron, Akron, Biomedical Engineering
B.E., University of Mumbai, Mumbai, Biomedical Engineering

Ian Zuzarte is from Mumbai, India. His graduate work focuses on movements in preterm infants. He developed algorithms to quantify movement from the plethysmography signal obtained and then use the movement for predicting life-threatening events such as apnea in preterm infants. He also investigated the effects of stochastic vibration on preterm infants and opioid-exposed infants. He is co-advised by Prof. David Paydarfar, of the University of Texas at Austin. Ian’s hobbies include cooking, travelling, hiking and playing boardgames. A fun fact about Ian is that he has a Portuguese last name but he cannot speak any Portuguese and has never been to Portugal.

Lab Alumni

Post-Doctoral Alumni

Mohsen Sadeghi
Motion Algorithms Scientist
Liquid Wire Inc.

Reza Sharif Razavian
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Northern Arizona University

Marta Russo
Junior Research Professor
Policlinico Tor Vergata: Fondazione PTV

Se-Woong Park
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
University of Texas at San Antonio

Masaki O. Abe
Associate Professor
Hokkaido University, Japan

Jooeun Ahn
Assistant Professor
Seoul National University, South Korea

Nikita A. Kuznetsov
Assistant Professor
Louisiana State University, USA

Francesca Lunardini
Postdoctoral Fellow
Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Pauline Maurice
Scientist
CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Nancy, France

Bahman Nasseroleslami
Research Scientist
Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland

Aymar De Rugy
Scientist
Centre de la Recherche Nationale Scientifique (CNRS), France

Won Joon Sohn
Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California Irvine

Graduate Alumni

Rashida Nayeem
Haptics Engineer 
Apple 

Carissa Aekins
Clinical Research Associate
Syneos Health

Ian Zuzarte
Senior Research Scientist
Drager Medical Devices, Andover, MA

Zhaoran Zhang
Postdoctoral researcher
Columbia University

Meghan E. Huber
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Fei Ye
PhD Student
University of California – Riverside

Rajal Cohen
Associate Professor, Psychology
University of Idaho

Kunlin Wei
Professor
Beijing University, China

Tjitske Boonstra
Business

William J. Dean
Senior Software Analyst
Orlando, Florida

Xiaogang Hu
Assistant Professor
North Carolina State University

Hiromu Katsumata
Professor
Daito-Bunka University, Japan

Lisa Maurer
Research Associate
University of Giessen, Germany

Eric Penchansky
Master Student
Mechanical Engineering

Aaron Raftery
General Manager
Smartwatt Energy, Chicago, USA

Daniel Russell
Associate Professor
Old Dominion University, USA

Tian Shen
Industry

Hong Yu
Medical Doctor
Cambridge Health Associates

 

Undergraduate Alumni

Sabrina Bond
Research Assistant 
Stanford University School of Medicine 

Rachel Huynh
Undergraduate student
Nutrition Health and Society at Brown University

Christina Larson
Undergraduate student
Biology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama

Hillary Hoyt
Undergraduate student
Behavioral Neuroscience

Abigail Nugent
Systems Engineer II
BD, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

Abigail Cahil
Medical Student

Emily Wiecek
Ophthamologist at Boston Childrens Hospital

Julia Ebert
Graduate student, Computer Science Harvard University

Dena Guo
Cleveland Clinic Medical School

Hannah Tam
Ph.D. student, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Harvard Medical School

Kaleb Noruzi
Undergraduate Student
Bioengineering

Jeffrey Zhu
Undergraduate Student
Computer Engineering

Ollie Cervantes
Medical School, San Francisco

Keith Harrigian
Ph.D. Student, Computer Science
Johns Hopkins University

Rebecca Cheng
Graduate Student
Cornell University

Anne Sigl
Undergraduate Student
Bioengineering

 

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