Get Involved with the AABL Lab

We are currently actively seeking out folks to get involved in the lab at almost all levels.

How to Get Involved

Undergraduate Students

There are typically two routes for current Tufts undergraduates to join the lab as an undergraduate research assistant: by doing well in class, or by consistently showing up for the lab's weekly hackathons. Students wishing to take the classroom route should take one of Dr. Short's classes, and make a special effort to do well in the class. Alternatively, you can come to lab hacking hours (normally on Friday afternoons, but please reach out to Dr. Short or a current lab member to confirm dates and times). Students who consistently show up and make useful contributions to lab infrastructure during hacking hours will be considered eligible to join the lab. There are many ways to contribute, including lab maintenence, writing code, building robots, setting up experiments, and more. However, most undergrads will find it useful to have installed Ubuntu Linux (often in a virtual machine; you can obtain VMWare for free through Tufts) and completed the tutorials for ROS, the Robot Operating System, either before starting to come to hacking hours or in parallel with helping out with more basic lab chores.

Undergraduate lab members can do research on a volunteer basis, but typically students will do an independent study for course credit, or work with Dr. Short to seek out and apply for funding, either through Tufts resources, or, for students who have successfully worked in the lab for 1-2 semesters, through Dr. Short's existing funding.

There are also currently several routes for non-Tufts undergrads to be considered to work in the lab during the summer: Students can either apply to the CRA-WP DREU program and request to work with Dr. Short or get involved in research at their home university, and be recommended by their current PI directly to Dr. Short.

PhD Students

The lab is currently seeking well-qualified PhD students; we add a few students each application cycle. A good candidate for work in the AABL Lab is someone who:

  • Is specifically interested in computational (or algorithmic) human-robot interaction (that is, in humans AND robots AND computing AND the interactions between the three);
  • Is willing to wrestle with interesting technical problems;
  • Enjoys thinking creatively; can take an initial idea in new directions or has experience with open-ended projects that require trying many different things;
  • Cares about being a responsible member of the lab, campus, and broader community;
  • Knows why they want to do research and has some sense of what they hope to do with a PhD.

Additionally, candidates must be accepted to a PhD program at Tufts (typically either CS or ME); the procedures for such admission are set by the departments. Strong candidates for the AABL lab in particular will have many (but not necessarily all) of the following qualifications:

  • Hands-on experience in human-robot interaction, robotics, machine learning, controls, human factors, assistive technology, or human-computer interaction;
  • Some research experience (an REU, independent study, or similar) in engineering or computer science;
  • An undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely-related computing field...
  • ...OR an undergraduate degree in psychology or cognitive science, and significant experience with programming, robotics, and/or computational work (e.g., a minor in CS; an internship or job at a software company; demonstrated contributions to open source projects; or a strong portfolio of technical work);
  • ...OR an undergraduate degree in math, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering and some experience with programming or intelligent robotics (e.g., some programming classes, or any of the options listed in the previous item);
  • Good written and spoken formal communication skills (i.e., writing papers and giving presentations), and a willingness to continue to improve these skills;
  • Experience conducting STEM education and/or outreach activities, especially in support of underrepresented groups in computing (for example, women, underrepresented minorities, first generation college students, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and/or people with disabilities).

Prospective PhD Students should submit an application to the CS Department PhD Program. Students are strongly encouraged to also apply to the HRI PhD program to receive a joint degree in HRI and CS. Students applying to the HRI program through the ME department can also be considered to join the lab, however, those students will need to follow the procedure for current students (below) after joining Tufts. In fairness to all applicants, I don't generally review application materials outside of the formal process, but if you are particularly excited about working with me, you (or better yet a faculty mentor who can speak to your qualifications) can email me to let me know to be on the lookout for your application.

Current Tufts PhD students wishing to be co-advised should first speak to their current advisor, then follow the procedure for current undergrads (take a class or come to hacking hours). Students wishing to switch advisors should do the same, but should be aware that they will need to complete at least one semester of unfunded research (either through a TA, a collaborative project funded by their current advisor, or by taking one of Dr. Short's research focused classes) before being considered for an RA.

K-12 Students

We do not currently have positions available for K-12 students to work in the lab, but we encourage interested students and parents to look into programs available through the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) and the Tufts University College (e.g., the Summer Research Experience program).

MS Students

Prospective MS students should strongly consider applying to the HRI Master's Program at Tufts, although MS students in ME, CS, or EE will also be considered to work in the lab.

Current MS students taking the thesis option for their degree should follow the same procedure as current PhD students; students doing a classroom-only MS should follow the same procedure as current undergraduate students.

Visitors and Volunteers

We're not able to host international visitors or non-student volunteers (outside of any programs listed above) except under occasional exceptional circumstances (typically, at a minimum, you and/or a close mentor of yours already know Dr. Short).


We are always excited to find and work with new collaborators! Please reach out to Dr. Short by email and we can set up a time to talk or for you to visit the lab.