Lucia Beccai is Tenure Track Researcher at the Center for Micro-BioRobotics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia of Genoa, Italy. She graduated in 1998 in Electronic Engineering (specialization in Microelectronics) at the University of Pisa after performing an experimental thesis focused on the development of nanometric ZrO2 oxygen sensors. In 1999 she joined the Center of Research in Microengineering (CRIM) laboratory (formerly MiTech lab) of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA) as research assistant. She contributed to the establishment of the new CRIM laboratory active from 2002 and she collaborated to several European research projects. Dr. Beccai obtained her Ph.D. in Microsystem Engineering from the University of Rome Tor Vergata in 2003, and she spent one year at the Institut fur Mikrotechnik of Mainz, in Germany as she was awarded a research project to develop a new kind of MEMS based tactile force sensor. After joining (2005) SSSA’s Advanced Robotic Technology and System (ARTS) lab (today both labs have fused in the Institute of Biorobotics), she held a temporary position of Assistant Professor in Bioengineering (2008).
In her career, she built expertise in biorobotics, and microsystem engineering in the biomedical field, e.g. from biomedical microsystems for in-vivo applications and MEMS, to bioinspired solutions for bionic hand tactile feedback systems, human tactile encoding mechanisms and development of human-inspired artificial systems. She collaborated in many international projects being responsible for research activities in several of them, like in Cyberhand (EU-IST-FET-2001-35094), DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program, Nanobiotact (FP6-NMP-033287) and Nanobiotouch (FP7-NMP-2008-SMALL-2). In November 2009, she joined IIT as Team Leader contributing to the start-up of the Center of Micro-BioRobotics, and initiated new research activities on smart soft tactile sensing, piezoelectric and triboelectric energy harvesting technologies, bioinspired soft microrobots. Collaborating to the Plantoid project (FP7-FETOpen-293431) she also investigated soft mechanical sensory systems inspired by the Plant Kingdom.
Her research today includes activities on: smart tactile systems inspired from nature, soft robotic systems for investigating active and passive touch, new technologies from milli- to micro-scale for enabling 3D soft mechanical sensing, and soft material triboelectric power generation for powerless sensing. Target applications are those in fields of soft robotics and wearable devices/human-computer interfaces. In the latter she is responsible for a fully wearable sensory system in the XoSoft project “Soft modular biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments” (H2020-688175).
She has trained many PhD students and several post-docs, and currently she mentors 2 PhD students, 2 post-docs, one research fellow and one visiting PhD student. She is the Associate Editor for journals of Scientific Reports and Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Soft Robotics Section, and has organized several workshops at international conferences where she chaired some sessions (Living Machines, ICRA, ICORR, IROS, BioRob). She has 3 patents (from one of them a spin-off company was originated on soft tactile skins) and is author of more than 100 articles on refereed international journals, books, and international conference proceedings.