about

I carried out my Ph.D. in Neuroprosthesis Control at the Automatic Control Lab at ETH Zurich, supervised by Prof. M. Morari, and in very close collaboration with the Centre for Neuroprosthetics at EPFL, Lausanne - Translational Neural Engineering Lab (Prof. S. Micera) and Courtine Lab, or G-lab (Prof. G. Courtine).

As part of the EU-funded FP7 project NEUWalk, my work was focused on the development of adaptive spinal-cord stimulation paradigms with the aim to optimise neurorehabilitation after spinal cord injury. I used real-time monitoring of gait patterns (kinematics, EMG, ground forces, neural recordings) to close the loop and tune stimulation based on ongoing locomotor performance. Experimental tests in rodent and primate animal models showed the benefits of personalising spinal-cord stimulation for each subject to maximise gait quality, weight bearing and endurance.

In addition, I contributed extensively to the development of a brain-spinal interface, which allowed to reconnect spinal and cortical circuits through an artifical by-pass around the injury site that restored voluntary activation of the legs after paralysis.

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research

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Previously, I worked as a Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) in Artificial Intelligence and NeuroInformatics at the European Space Agency's Advanced Concepts Team in Noordwijk, Netherlands. I was involved in several projects dealing with Robotics, A.I. and bioengineering, together with Dr. Dario Izzo, Dr. Tobias Seidl and Dr. Christos Ampatzis. Among others, we carried out studies on how to clone human curiosity into autonomous agents, the use of BMIs in space for increasing astonaut capabilities or biomimetic navigation strategies for efficient planet exploration by rovers.

In addition, the ESA Advanced Concepts Team was accepted as mentoring organisation for the 2010 Google Summer of Code (GSoC) on its Open Software 'PaGMO' (Parallel Global Multiobjective Optimizer). I took part as mentor for an A.I. project that aimed to combine the optimisation capabilities offered by PaGMO with evolutionary robotics paradigms: evolving walking behaviors in a low-gravity environment... Check out the evolution and results of the Alife on asteroids project!

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Prior to that, I spent one year working as Associate Engineer at INRIA (the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), within the research project 'Cortex: neuromimetic intelligence'. Together with Dr. Dominique Martinez, we evaluated robotic navigation strategies for scent tracking and odor source localisation. We showed that infotactic strategies, based on information maximisation, are robust and highly efficient even when implemented in a real robot under turbulent conditions, where cues are scarse and information unrealiable. Biomimetic characteristics were also preserved.

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I obtained my MSc. Degree (Dist. awarded) in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics from Edinburgh University. For my thesis, I worked with Ian Saunders and Prof. Sethu Vijayakumar on the role of artificial feedback in prosthesis control, and how it is employed by people in conjunction with their natural senses to manipulate a fully articulated prosthetic hand (see: i-limb description).

I previously obtained a joint Engineering Degree from Ecole des Mines ParisTech, France ('Grande Ecole' Program, minor in Control Systems) and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain (Electrical and Computer Engineering). I carried out my Final Year Research Project in the Computational Neuroscience Lab at ATR International (Japan), where I worked with Dr. Joshua Hale and Dr. Gordon Cheng in Humanoid robotics simulation and control. The project studied ground contact in biped locomotion, and in particular how to model the ground reaction forces that sustain the body in a dynamics simulator for humanoid robots, and then validate their distribution during several biped tasks with respect to real humans.

okayThis project was awarded the 1st prize by the French Embassy in Spain to the best research project carried out within a Double Degree programme between Spain and France... see the interview and news description! (sorry in Spanish)

 

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