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Stefan Kai Schaal

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Professor of Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering


  • 1987, Master's Degree, Mechanical Engineering, Tech. University of Munich
  • 1984, Bachelor's Degree, Mechanical Engineering, Tech. University of Munich
  • Doctoral Degree, Tech. University of Munich


Stefan Schaal is Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is a Founding Director of the Max-Planck-Insitute for Intelligent Systems in Germany where he led the Autonomous Motion Department for several years. He was also an Invited Researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratory in Japan, where he held an appointment as Head of the Computational Learning Group during an international ERATO project, the Kawato Dynamic Brain Project (ERATO/JST). Before joining USC, Dr. Schaal was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, an Invited Researcher at the ATR Human Information Processing Research Laboratories in Japan, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at the Department of Kinesiology of the Pennsylvania State University.

Research Summary

Stefan Schaal's research interests include topics of statistical and machine learning, neural networks, computational neuroscience, functional brain imaging, nonlinear dynamics, nonlinear control theory, and biomimetic robotics. He applies his research to problems of artificial and biological motor control and motor learning, focusing on both theoretical investigations and experiments with human subjects and anthropomorphic robot equipment.
Stefan Schaal has co-authored over 400 papers in refereed journals and conferences. He is a co-founder of the "IEEE/RAS International Conference and Humanoid Robotics", and a co-founder of "Robotics Science and Systems", a highly selective new conference featuring the best work in robotics every year. Dr. Schaal served as Program Chair at these conferences and he was the Program Chair of "Simulated and Adaptive Behavior" (SAB 2004) and the "IEEE/RAS International Conference on Robotics and Automation" (ICRA 2008), the largest robotics conference in the world. Stefan Schaal is has also been an Area Chair at "Neural Information Processing Systems" (NIPS) and served as Program Committee Member of the "International Conference on Machine Learning" (ICML). Stefan Schaal serves on the editorial board of the journals "Neural Networks", "International Journal of Humanoid Robotics", and "Frontiers in Neurorobotics". Stefan Schaal is a member of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Society For Neuroscience, the Society for Neural Control of Movement, the IEEE, and AAAS.


  • 1984 Graduate Scholarship of the Prof. Wittmann'schen Grant Foundation
  • 1985 Graduate Scholarship of the Friedrich-Deckel-Gedaechtnisstiftung
  • 1987 Graduate Scholarship of the Friedrich-Deckel-Gedaechtnisstiftung
  • 1987 Graduate Scholarship of the Nicolaus-Fond
  • 1989 Scholarship of German Academic Exchange Association for research in the USA
  • 1991 German National Academic Foundation. Ph.D. Scholarship
  • 1991 Ph.D. Scholarship "Landesgraduierten Promotionsstipendium" of the state of Bavaria
  • 1991 Ph.D. Scholarship of the Dr. Krüger-Foundation
  • 1992 Participant in the Summer School on Complex Systems in Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 1992 German Academic Exchange Association Research Scholarship
  • 1994 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Postdoctoral Scholarship
  • 1994 German National Academic Foundation Postdoctoral Scholarship
  • 1997 German Research Association Habilitation Fellowship
  • 1998 ATRI (Advanced Telecommunications Research International) Best Paper Award for “A Kendama Learning Robot Based on Bi-Directional Theory”
  • 2000 International Conference on Robotics and Automation Finalist for Best Paper Award
  • 2001 Journal of the Robotics Society of Japan Award for best annual paper
  • 2001 Invitation to International Symposium on Robotics Research
  • 2002 Neural Networks Society of Japan: “Biomimetic gaze stabilization based on feedback-error learn- ing with nonparametric regression networks” Award for best annual neural networks journal paper of 2001
  • 2002 National Academy of Sciences and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Invited talk at the German-American Frontiers Sciences Meeting
  • 2002 International Conference of Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2002) Overall best paper award
  • 2002 University of Southern California Junior Research Award
  • 2003 Invitation to International Symposium on Robotics Research
  • 2004 Nature Neuroscience (Impact > 18) High Impact Publication
  • 2004 University of Birmingham Fellow of the University of Birmingham
  • 2005 National Academy of Engineering Invited Talk at National Academy of Engineering
  • 2005 Current Opinion in Neurobiology High Impact Publication
  • 2005 National Science Foundation Invited Research Demonstration at NSF
  • 2005 International Neural Network Society Best Paper Award in Neural Networks
  • 2007 The Okawa Award Foundation Research Grant Award
  • 2008 University of Southern California The Mellon Graduate Mentoring Award
  • 2010 Humanoid Robotics Conference Finalist Best Paper Award
  • 2010 MacArthur Foundation MacArthur Fellowship Nomination Committee
  • 2010 CLAWAR Conference Finalist Best Paper Award
  • 2010 IEEE/RAS Finalist Best Paper Award
  • 2011 International Conference of Intelligence in Robotics on Intelligent Robots and Systems Overall Best Paper Award
  • Computer Science
  • Biomedical Engineering

  • RTH 401
  • Ronald Tutor Hall of Engineering
  • 3710 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 2905

Contact Information
  • (213) 740-9418
  • sschaal@usc.edu


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