Stefan Schaal is a German/US computer scientist specializing in robotics,
machine learning, autonomous systems, and computational neuroscience.
Born in Frankfurt/Main in Germany, Stefan grew up in the North Bavarian town of Nuernberg. After graduating from school, he served in the German army in the Ski Patrol Devision of Bad Reichenhall, where he honorably discharged with the rank of a Lieutenant. Stefan studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich, graduating in 1987 with a Diploma degree (Summa Cum Laude). Subsequently, Stefan pursed his Ph.D. in Computer Aided Design and Artificial Intelligence at the Technical University of Munich and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving his Ph.D. in 1991 (Summa Cum Laude).
In 1991, Stefan became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department and Brain and Cognitive Science and the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Scholarship Foundation. Starting from 1992, he also became an Invited Researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Labs in Japan, where he created a robotics lab focusing on biological principles of motor control and learning. In 1994, Stefan moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Assistant Professor, and also held the same rank at the Pennsylvania State University. In 1996, Stefan assumed a group leader position in the ERATO Kawato Dynamic Brain Project in Japan. Starting from 1997, Stefan began his tenure at the University of Southern California, where he advanced from the ranks of Assistant Professor, to Associate Professor, to Full Professor.
Starting with 2009, Stefan Schaal became a key founder in defining and creating the Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen/Stuttgart Germany, an institute focussing on principles of perception-action-learning systems in synthetic intelligence. In 2012, Stefan created the Autonomous Motion Department at this institute, which he lead to international recognition until 2018.
Stefan’s current research interests include topics of statistical and machine learning, neural networks, computational neuroscience, functional brain imaging, nonlinear dynamics, nonlinear control theory, and biomimetic robotics. He applies his research to problems of artificial and biological motor control and motor learning, focusing on both theoretical investigations and experiments with human subjects and anthropomorphic robot equipment.
Stefan has co-authored over 400 papers in refereed journals and conferences. He is a co-founder of the “IEEE/RAS International Conference and Humanoid Robotics”, and a co-founder of “Robotics Science and Systems”, a highly selective conference featuring the best work in robotics every year. Stefan has served as Program Chair at these conferences and he was the Program Chair of “Simulated and Adaptive Behavior” (SAB 2004) and the “IEEE/RAS International Conference on Robotics and Automation” (ICRA 2008), the largest robotics conference in the world. Stefan has also been an Area Chair at “Neural Information Processing Systems” (NIPS) and served as Program Committee Member of the “International Conference on Machine Learning” (ICML). Stefan serves on the editorial board of the journals “Neural Networks”, “International Journal of Humanoid Robotics”, and “Frontiers in Neurorobotics”. Stefan Schaal is a member of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Society For Neuroscience, the Society for Neural Control of Movement, the IEEE, and AAAS.
Stefan Schaal was elected as IEEE Fellow in 2013, elected to the Max-Planck-Society in 2011, recipient of the Okawa Award Foundation Research Grant Award, recipient of the Mellon Graduate Mentoring Award in 2008, Fellow of the University of Birmingham, member of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German National Academic Foundation. He has received numerous best paper awards in top venues like the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, the IEEE International Conference on Intelligence Robots and Systems, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters Journal, the RSI International Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics, the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, the International Conference of Humanoid Robotics, the International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots, the Journal of Neural Networks, and the Journal of the Robotics Society of Japan.