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Barbara Mazzolai

Senior Researcher Tenured - Principal Investigator - Center Coordinator
Center Director

Research Line

Bioinspired Soft Robotics




Viale Rinaldo Piaggio 34
+39 050 883444
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Barbara Mazzolai is Director of the Center for Micro-BioRobotics since February 16th, 2011, and she was Deputy Director for the Supervision and Organization of the IIT Centers Network from July 2012 to 2017.

She graduated (MSc) in Biology (with Honours) at the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1995, and received the Ph.D. in Microsystem Engineering from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. From 1994 to 1998 she worked at the Institute of Biophysics of the National Research Council in Pisa. In 1998 she obtained an International Master Degree in Eco-Management and Audit Schemes at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA) in Pisa. From February 1999 until June 2004 she had a position at the Center for Research in Microengineering (CRIM Lab, now the BioRobotics Institute) of SSSA as Research Assistant and, from July 2004 to October 2009, as Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at SSSA. She was co-founder of the Research Centre on Sea Technologies and Marine Robotics of SSSA in Livorno. From November 2009 to February 2011 she was Team Leader at the CMBR.

From January to July 2017 she was Visiting Faculty at Aerial Robotics Lab, Department of Aeronautics, of Imperial College of London.

In 2010 she received the "Marisa Bellisario" Award for her scientific and management activities in the EU DustBot project for improving the urban hygiene and the quality of life of citizens. In 2013 she was awarded the Medal of the Senate of the Italian Republic for her scientific activities in biomimetics and biorobotics. In 2015 she was listed among the 25 most influential women in robotics by RoboHub.

Her current scientific activity focuses on bioinspired soft robotics, with a particular research interest in merging Biology and Engineering (see e.g. B Mazzolai, Biology for Robotics-A Multidisciplinary Approach to a Researcher's Life [Women in Engineering], IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 23 (1), 114-115, 2016). She has a long experience as Project Manager of European Projects in this field (e.g. OCTOPUS, FP7-231608; HydroNet, FP7-212790; DustBot, FP6-045299; EMECAP, QLK4-CT-2000-00489; etc.) and she was the Coordinator of the FET-Open PLANTOID European Project (n° 293431). She was the Project Manager of the SeedBot ESA-ARIADNA Project in 2006 and, more recently, the Principal Investigator for CMBR-IIT of the ESA-ARIADNA Study Project, titled "Self-burial strategy and performance in Erodium cicutarium (SeeDriller)", aimed at studying the soil penetration strategies implemented by the seed of this plant and developing models based on these penetration mechanisms. She is the Principal Investigator for CMBR-IIT for the EC H2020-ICT-2015 XoSoft Project (Soft modular biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments).

She has been member of panels of the European Commission within the Seventh Frame Program in the field of Robotics and ICT, and of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology in the field of Environment and Health. She is member of the Editorial Board of Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Soft Robotics, Biomimetics, Robotics & Automation Letters, and Associated Editor for Frontiers in Bionics and Biomimetics. She served as Associated Editor for ICRA 2016-2018, IEEE RA-L 2016-2018, IROS 2013 and 2017, as Interdisciplinary Program Co-Chairs for RoboSoft 2018, Government Forum Co-Chair for IROS 2016, and Publicity Co-Chair for BIOROB 2012.

She is also member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen and Stuttgart, Germany.

She is author of more than 180 papers appeared in international journals, books, and conference proceedings. She is member of the IEEE, and of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and of the Robotics and Automation Society.


XoSoft - Soft modular biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments (EC H2020-ICT-2015, IIT Coordinator) – CMBR PI

EOLO - Tuscany Region (2017-2019)

RoboCom++ - Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research + EC (2017-2020) - IIT PI

Innovative Robotic Artefacts Inspired by Plant Roots for Soil Monitoring (PLANTOID, ICT-2011.9.1 FET Open, Grant Agreement no. 293431, 2012-2015) - Coordinator



2015 Listed among the 25 most influential women in robotics by RoboHub

2015 International Award, We Woman for EXPO, October 7, 2015, Genoa, Italy (for the scientific activities performed in biomimetics and biorobotics)

2014 Best Poster Award at EuroEAP 2014, International conference on Electromechanically Active Polymer (EAP) transducers & artificial muscles, Linköping, Sweden, 10-11 June 2014, with the work "Shaping and patterning of electrically driven soft PEDOT:PSS bilayer actuators" by S. Taccola, F. Greco, A. Mondini, B. Mazzolai, V. Mattoli.

2013 Medal of the Senate of the Italian Republic, October 27, 2013, Rimini, Italy (for the scientific activities performed in biomimetics and biorobotics)

2013 Best Poster Award at EuroEAP 2013, International conference on Electromechanically Active Polymer (EAP) transducers & artificial muscles, Duebendorf, 25-26 June, 2013, with the work S. Taccola, A. Zucca, F. Greco, B. Mazzolai, V. Mattoli, Electrically driven dry state actuators based on PEDOT:PSS nanofilms.

2012 TMECH Best Paper Award with the work B. Mazzolai, A. Mondini, P. Corradi, C. Laschi, V. Mattoli, E. Sinibaldi, P. Dario, A Miniaturized Mechatronic System Inspired by Plant Roots, IEEE Transaction on Mechatronics, vol 16(2), pp. 201-212, 2011.

2010 Award Marisa Bellisario, “Germoglio d’Oro”, XXII Edition, June 18 2010, Rome (for the creativity and innovative character of the DustBot idea and for its social and environmental impact)

2007 Best Paper Award at RoBio 2007, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics, 15-18 December, 2007 Sanya, with the work F. Patanè, V. Mattoli, C. Laschi, B. Mazzolai and P. Dario, H. Ishii, A. Takanishi, Biomechatronic Design and Development of a Legged Rat Robot.


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