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Postdoctoral Research Associate
Rice University in the Houston, Texas
Date Posted 09/01/2020
Postdoctoral-Computer Science
Employment Type Full-time
Application Deadline Open until filled
Job Type
Full Job Description

Computer Science
Full Time/Part Time
Requisition Number
Open Date
Close Date
Benefits Eligible
Position Summary

The Kavraki group ( is seeking candidates to fill one postdoctoral research associate position in robotics. The group develops novel computational methodologies for enabling robots to work with and support people. We work on algorithms for motion planning for high-dimensional systems with kinematic and dynamic constraints, integrated frameworks for reasoning under sensing and control uncertainty, novel methods for learning and for using experiences, and ways to instruct robots at a high level and collaborate with them. Our research is inspired by a variety of applications: from robots that will assist people in their home, to robots that would build space habitats.

The purpose of this project is to develop informative and compact state and action representations, towards the goal of equipping robots with generalizable abilities to conduct manipulation tasks in unstructured environments. These representations will incorporate geometric, topological, and physical information necessary for executing a wide range of tasks, and possibly rely on machine learning techniques to achieve high computational performance and robustness. As one of the major concerns, we are also interested in exploring the possibility of improving the scalability of representations by leveraging previous experience of the robot, as well as refining and augmenting them over time through interactions with the environment. The successful candidate will work on designing novel task representations for complex manipulation, and integrating them with motion planning. General topic from tasks and motion planning will also be investigated as well as connection with sensing.

This position involves algorithm development, prototype implementations, and hands-on work with robotic platforms to demonstrate the results.

We are seeking candidates who have demonstrated ability to lead and/or work collaboratively in teams comprised of individuals of diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives.

Consistent with the National Research Council’s report, Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond, we are seeking candidates who have demonstrated ability to work in research groups that “… [integrate] the knowledge, tools, and ways of thinking…” from engineering, mathematics, and computational, natural, social and behavioral sciences to solve societal problems using a convergent approach.

We seek greater representation of women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans in disciplines in which they have historically been underrepresented; to attract international students from a wider range of countries and backgrounds; to accelerate progress in building a faculty and staff who are diverse in background and thought; and we support an inclusive environment that fosters interaction and understanding within our diverse community.

The George R. Brown School of Engineering ranks among the top 20 of undergraduate engineering programs (US News & World Report) and is strongly committed to nurturing the aspirations of faculty, staff and students in an inclusive environment.

Rice University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with commitment to diversity at all levels and considers for employment qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status.

Education Required

Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate


Computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or closely related field with an emphasis in robotics

Education Preferred
Experience Required

No experience required.

Experience Preferred
  • Related experience producing quality research and publications in established journals
  • Extensive experience in using robotics software tools including ROS
  • Experience with a variety of programming languages
  • Experience with robotic hardware
  • Research work after a PhD degree
Skills Required
  • Deep knowledge and practice of robot algorithms, hardware, and software tools available in the community
  • Experiences in geometrical and topological modeling of robotic manipulation systems
  • Comprehensive understanding of the state-of-the-art grasp, motion, and manipulation planning and control algorithms
  • Familiarity with recent data-driven representation learning frameworks
  • Ability to independently work with robots, as well as implementing and documenting developed algorithms
  • Strong analytical and programming skills
  • Ability to advise students
  • Ability to contribute in the writing of proposals
  • The individual needs to be self-motivated, excellent communication skills, and ability to work well with others
  • Ability to work independently and professionally with minimal supervision and direction
Skills Preferred
Physical Demands
  • Ability to work in front of a computer up to eight hours a day
  • Ability to work at a lab that has robots and vision systems
Working Conditions
  • May require availability outside normal working hours (some evenings and weekends)
  • May require travel to conferences and other institutions
Security Sensitive

As defined under the Texas Education Code and Rice Policy No. 425, this position is security sensitive and employment in this position is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check.

Essential Personnel

Position is not considered essential during a campus emergency.

Rice University Standard of Civility

Serves as a representative of the University, displaying courtesy, tact, consideration and discretion in all interactions with other members of the Rice community and with the public.

Special Instructions to Applicants
Essential Functions
  • Develops mathematical representations for robotic manipulation systems to enable action planning of various complexities
  • Integrates grasp, motion, and task planning algorithms to study essential constraints associated with different actions
  • Develops representations/algorithms to enable action/task sequencing beyond single action/task planning
  • Investigates learning-based methods to enhance the perception ability of manipulation systems in various task/environment setups
  • Implements, verifies, and evaluates proposed approaches
  • Writes scientific papers and presents research results in relevant venues
  • Mentors, oversees, and/or trains junior research team members
  • Provides academic services (ie. teaching classes) to the department as required
  • Performs all other duties as assigned

Applicant Documents

Required Documents
  • Curriculum Vitae
*Please mention to employers when applying for this job*
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