The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | September 29, 2006

Robotics Institute Seminar, September 29, 2006
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Is the human hand dexterous because, or in spite, of its anatomical complexity?

Faculty Candidate Talk

Francisco Valero-Cuevas

Cornell University


Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm


The human hand is a pinnacle of mechanical versatility unequaled by electromechanical systems. It is clearly a product of brain-body coevolution. However, its anatomical structure shares numerous features with other species. In my work, I explore how the human hand meets the necessary and sufficient mechanical requirement for manipulation. This allows us to begin to distinguish and contrast the complementary contributions of anatomy and the nervous system in order to improve hand rehabilitation and suggest avenues to build better machines.

Speaker Biography

I attended Swarthmore College from 1984-88 where I obtained a BS degree in Engineering. After spending a year in the Indian subcontinent as a Thomas J Watson Fellow, I joined Queen's University in Ontario and worked with Dr. Carolyn Small. The research for my Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Queen's focused on developing non-invasive methods to estimate the kinematic integrity of the wrist joint. In 1991 I joined the doctoral program in the Design Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stanford University. I worked with Dr. Felix Zajac developing a realistic biomechanical model of the human digits. This research, done at the Rehabilitation R & D Center in Palo Alto, focused on predicting optimal coordination patterns of finger musculature during static force production. After completing my doctoral degree in 1997, I joined the core faculty of the Biomechanical Engineering Division at Stanford University as a Research Associate and Lecturer. My research then focused on developing experimental methods to optimize the surgical restoration of hand function following spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve injuries. In 1999 I joined the faculty of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as an Assistant Professor. I also have close ties with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Jean Harpley( - 8-3802)

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.