Social Robots

A European Research Council funded Social Neuroscience Research Project

Meet the social robots team!


Prof. Emily S. Cross

Emily is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Bangor University and the co-director of the Social Brain in Action Laboratory. With the recent award of an ERC Starting Grant, she now also serves as the Principal Investigator of the Social Robots project. Emily completed her PhD with Scott Grafton at Dartmouth College, and then worked at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Leipzig, Germany) and the Behavioural Science Institute and Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands). Emily has been building and collecting robots since a young age (more aesthetically interesting than functional ones!), and looks forward to helping chart the course to peaceful coexistence with our robotic overlords of the future.


Dr. Lina Davitt

Originally from Bulgaria, Lina completed a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and a PhD all at Bangor University's School of Psychology. She has broad research interests encompassing areas such as attention, memory, visual perception and object expertise. Her interests extend to the role of object shadows (intrinsic and ground) in visual long-term memory, as well as how manipulations of object shape can influence consumer perception and shopping behaviour. As part of her part-time role at Bangor University's Confucius Institute, Lina also investigates issues in intercultural communication and one of her current projects explores the integrational difficulties experienced by Chinese students in the UK and Russia.


Bishakha Chaudhury

Bishakha comes from the city of Kolkata in India. She has a BSc in Computer Science from Fergusson College (Pune, India), a Masters in Computer Application (Chennai University, India) and Masters in Virtual Reality and Computer Graphics from the University Of Sussex (UK). All the computer games she played while growing up piqued her interest in virtual reality, computer gameplay and artificial intelligence. Her masters dissertation and the game mods and demos she made ensured her a career in the games industry in London. She worked mainly as an AI programmer and was responsible for AI racers and developing variety in the characteristics of non-human players. After this, she joined a team working on computer-aided orthopaedic surgery, where a robotic hand was used for performing precision hip and knee surgery. She then followed her family to scenic North Wales and worked in the local IT industry for six years as a senior developer and technical analyst. As she was looking for an opportunity to return to AI and robotics, the Social Robots project was the perfect opportunity for her to do so. In her spare time she likes reading, going on hikes, dabbling with paint, and on those rare sunny days, taking her two boys to the beach.



Dr. Ruud Hortensius

Ruud, a Dutchman, obtained his PhD under supervision of Prof. Beatrice de Gelder at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Before that, he completed a BSc in Social Work, a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. In his research he investigates the neural mechanisms of positive and negative social interactions. He continued to explore these topics as a postdoctoral researcher on Dutch and South African soil at Maastricht University and the University of Cape Town. Excited by the unique insights robots offer human psychology and neuroscience, he is eager to explore the dynamic social interactions between robots and less robot-like beings in the Social Robots project at Bangor University. In his spare time, he is an avid reader, emerging hiker, and an unapologetic Morrissey enthusiast.


Felix Hekele

Felix originally comes from the beautiful Chiemgau region in Bavaria but has spend the last five years completing his BSc and MSc studies in Psychology at the University of Salzburg in Salzburg, Austria. Trained in Social Psychology, much of his research was concerned with people's reaction to different threats and exploring the motivations underlying people's behaviour. His interest in artificial intelligence and robotics led him to the SoBA Lab where he will start a PhD as part of the Social Robots project in October 2016. His highest ambition is to somehow implement empathy into robotics to help in the creation of friendly neighborhood robots instead of bad matrix-style robots. More realistic research interests include expectations from and behavioural reactions to robots and the exploration of cognitions underlying an interaction with robots. In his free time, Felix enjoys cooking, absorbing everything technology and science-fiction related as well as exploring the real and all sorts of virtual worlds.


Anna Henschel

Originally from the cold and rainy north of Germany, Anna completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Konstanz, where she developed a passion for neuroscience and all things brain related. She left for the Netherlands in 2015 to pursue a Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, exchanging her running route along the Lake Constance for the Amstel river. Topics she is interested in include (but are not limited to) empathy, emotion regulation and our social (as well as antisocial) brain. Besides neuroscience, she likes to explore as many bookstores as she can, always leaving with a book (or two), many British TV shows and taking lots and lots of pictures on travels abroad. Anna is excited to join the Social Robots project in September 2017, to find out more about the underlying neural mechanisms of socializing with our robotic friends. After getting acquainted with them in graphic novels, movies and books, she cannot wait to delve into the intricacies of interacting with robots in real life, upgrading from science fiction to science.

©2017 Social Robots | Bangor University