Coffee chats: Jeannette Bohg

Jeannette Bohg, Assistant Professor of Robotics, chatted with us on Friday about her research, her advice for aspiring academics, and what keeps her going in her work as a professor.

Professor Bohg’s current research focuses on perception for autonomous robotic manipulation and grasping. Although she just arrived at Stanford two months ago, she is already fond of the collaborative culture she sees in the computer science department, as well as in the rest of the School of Engineering. She says she has been an academic “her whole life,” so although she has considered working in industry, she prefers the excitement of figuring out how things work by implementing the underlying principles on robots rather than building a robot that works for a specific task.

For those who are considering pursuing a career in academia, Bohg described the differences in titles such as “Assistant Professor,” “Associate Professor,” and “Lecturer.” She talked about her day-to-day life as an assistant professor and how her daily work might differ compared to that of, say, a grad student.

Bohg stressed the importance of keeping an multidisciplinary perspective throughout one’s academic journey. She studied computer science as an undergrad, but she took a detour for her master’s to explore the intersection of art and technology, because she was always interested in art but did not study it previously due to financial considerations. Bohg emphasized sticking with “what you like”, even when a clear path for the future does not materialize immediately. Without an intrinsic drive to learn more about what you are studying, she said, it’s really hard to excel in any field.

Written by Marika Buccholz