Mrs Wafa Johal
Adjunct Senior Lecturer

Mrs Wafa Johal

Computer Science and Engineering

Dr Wafa Johal is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales. Previously, Wafa was a researcher at the CHILI Lab and Mobots Group at EPFL. She holds a PhD in Computer Sciences from the University of Grenoble Alps. Her research aims at creating acceptable and useful assistive robot interactions using social signal sensing, affective and cognitive reasoning and natural expressivity. Her latest work has investigated the use of tangible robots in education and rehabiliation.

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  • Journal articles | 2022
    Ozgur AG; Wessel MJ; Olsen JK; Cadic-Melchior AG; Zufferey V; Johal W; Dominijanni G; Turlan J-L; Mühl A; Bruno B; Vuadens P; Dillenbourg P; Hummel FC, 2022, 'The effect of gamified robot-enhanced training on motor performance in chronic stroke survivors', Heliyon, vol. 8, pp. e11764 - e11764,

2020    UNSW Faculty of Engineering 2020 Award for the category Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
2020    Best Demo Award for our paper CoWritng Kazakh - Learning a New Script with a Robot Demonstration.
2019    Best Reviewer Award for the 27th International Conference on Computers in Education.
2018    Best Paper Award Honorable Mention. When Deictic Gestures in a Robot Can Harm Child-Robot Collaboration.ACM Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC 2018), Trondheim, Norway.
2017    Best Paper Award: ACM Human-robot Interaction Conference (HRI), Vienna, Austria.
2015    Winner of the Social Touch Challenge at International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI). Nov. 2015.
2015    Best Paper Award Honorable Mention, ACM Human-robot Interaction Conference 2015 (HRI), Portland, USA.
2015    HRI Pioneers : International Conference on Human Robot Interaction 2015 (HRI), Portland, USA

My research enables robots to provide close, continuous and personalized assistance to people adapting to their capabilities. To this end, I have developed methods to allow robots to (1) decipher human non-verbal cues of communication, (2) synthesize socially intuitive behaviors and (3) provide personalized support according to individual needs.

My research has lead to several top-tier conferences (CHI, HRI, IROS) and journal publications (RAM, Frontiers Robotics and AI). Building on my research to create effective robot-assisted support, my research at EPFL on Educational Robotics (NCCR Robotics) focused on the building autonomous robotic systems that provides enhanced and personalized training for learners. I have been managing the research activities concerning Robotics at the CHILI Lab on the CoWriter, the Cellulo and the ANIMATAS research projects. Within these projects, I supervised six PhD students working various topics dealing with the use of robots and technologies in education and ’re-education’ (motor-rehabilitation). 


Human-Robot Interaction, Interactive Reasoning, Robots for Learning

My Research Supervision

Carson Yu Liu - MPhil - Speech Drivern Gesture Generationfor Social Robots