portraitResearch Background

You have stumbled upon the website of Phillip Walker, a researcher studying swarm robotics in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am currently a sixth-year Ph.D student in Intelligent Systems at the University of Pittsburgh. Along with working toward this degree, I am also a member of the Usability Lab, led by Dr. Michael Lewis in the School of Information Sciences at Pitt. Specifically, my research focuses on how human operators view and impart control on swarms of robots, and my dissertation is on improving the visualization and information given to operators of swarms, and in maximizing information transfer to and from the swarm under limited communication constraints.

I currently hold an M.S. in Information sciences from the University of Pittsburgh. In May of 2010, I graduated from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Cognitive Science and Economics. There, I worked with Jeanine Stefanucci in the Sensation and Perception Lab, where I studied the effect of emotion on perception–primarily the perception of tools and other small objects. I also worked with Paul Kieffaber in the Cognitive Psychophysiology Lab on task switching. At William and Mary, I also founded, and was a member of, W&M Students for Belize Education, a service organization that still travels to Belize every winter to work at local elementary schools. There, the team assists teachers in conducting lessons, and also helps local community members perform repairs on the schools. I also worked in the Writing Resources Center, where I helped fellow undergraduates revise personal statements, term papers, etc. and practice talks and oral presentations.

Personal Background

For fun, I enjoy experimenting with hobby robots and electronics prototyping (e.g. Arduino and Mbed) and building/tinkering with computers (particularly small form factor builds) and other hardware. In fact, much of my lab and dissertation originated as home projects to satisfy one curiosity or another. I also enjoy Sci-Fi television and movies, board games (Carcassonne or Codenames are my current favorites), and regularly follow several podcasts, such as Fresh Air, RadioLab, Hardcore History, Freakonomics, Planet Money, and 99% Invisible–and those are just the beginning. I enjoy checking out new restaurants, a fun new beer, or just about anything with coconut in it–except Pizza, because that would be weird.

Despite my limited budget, I try to travel as much as I can. Luckily academic conferences give me a great opportunity to do so! Recently, I have taken a two-week tour of California and its National Parks, visited Italy, and presented several papers at a conference in Budapest. My favorite spot so far has been Seoul, South Korea–I cannot recommend it enough, and I don’t even like kimchi. My current goal is to visit Yakutsk, Russia in the winter. I’m not sure why either.

Thanks for visiting my site! Send me an email if you’d like to get in touch.