September 7, 2018 — Shane Saunderson, along with five other U of T Engineering doctoral students, been named 2018 recipients of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships. Worth $50,000 a year for three years for a total of $150,000, the funding supports leading-edge doctoral research, including projects on human-robot interaction, therapeutic applications of reversing blindness, and investigating chronic pain, among others.
The Vanier Scholarship recognizes doctoral students at Canadian universities who demonstrate excellence academics, research impact and leadership.
Under the supervision of Professor Goldie Nejat, Saunderson’s research looks towards a future where social robots become nearly ubiquitous and are required to take on a variety of roles that collaborate with humans. He is currently investigating how interactions with robots influence and affect humans, particularly in roles involving trust, persuasion, and empathy.
“The word ‘humbling’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt upon receiving my acknowledgement,” he said. “Knowing the exceptional academic talent across Canada, I feel both an immense honour and a good bit of pressure to ensure that I make good use of this opportunity. Moreover, I view this scholarship as validation that my intuition and passion around Human-Robot Interaction are equally valued by the Vanier community and viewed as a critical to Canada’s social and economic future.”