I am an Assistant Professor in the ATLAS Institute and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. My research is focused on human-robot interaction (HRI) and human-computer interaction (HCI). I study the design and use of robots and related novel technologies, including brain-computer interfaces and virtual reality, with the goal of improving usability and outcomes such as learning and collaboration.

I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where I was a member of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. Prior to UW, I received degrees in Computer Science and History from Boston College.

Note: I am currently revamping this website to align with my new position at the University of Colorado Boulder. Please don't hesitate to Contact Me if you have any questions or are a prospective student interested in working with me.

My research focuses on applying human-centric principles to the design of software tools and robot behaviors that leverage novel interactive technologies to provide new forms of user assistance. Currently, two main threads drive my work: (1) enhancing the assistive capabilities of small free-flying robots and (2) leveraging novel sensing and intervention technologies to improve student learning in educational settings. Selected publications follow each project description, please see the publications page for a full list of my papers.

 Assistive Free-flying Robots

Small aerial robots represent a novel platform uniquely suited to assist humans in exploratory, surveillance, inspection, and telepresence tasks across a variety of domains. Recently, there has been an explosive growth in the development of such platforms, which is expanding their availability for potential use in military, commercial, and personal contexts. I conduct research on free-flyers from an interaction perspective to enhance robot usability, perceived safety, and collaborative potential. My goal is to design flyer behaviors and capabilities that support the deployment of flying robots working alongside humans in environments such as warehouses, construction sites, and the international space station.

Papers: HRI 2015 | HRI 2014

 Adaptive Educational Technologies

New technologies hold promise in providing greater abilities to monitor and improve student learning in real time. For example, brain-computer interface (BCI) technology might be used to passively evaluate student engagement with instructional material, while head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as Google Glass might enable new interactions between students and instructors. Using novel sensing techniques, I design algorithms that monitor students in educational settings. Additionally, I develop adaptive interventions that respond to student behaviors and improve learning, such as software interfaces for use in flipped learning environments (e.g., MOOCs) that automatically recommend review topics tailored to individual students and behaviors for instructional robots that allow them to re-engage students who are losing attention in standard classrooms.

Papers: CHI 2013 | CHI 2012

Full Conference Publications:


  • D. Szafir, B. Mutlu, and T. Fong (2015). Designing Mechanisms for Communicating Directionality in Flying Robots. In Proceedings of the 10th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2015), Portland, Oregon.

    [Acceptance rate: 25%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2015,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel and Mutlu, Bilge and Fong, Terrence},
    		title = {Designing Mechanisms for Communicating Directionality in Flying Robots},
    		booktitle = {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human-Robot Interaction},
    		pages = {19--26},
    		series = {HRI ’15},
    		year = {2015},
    		location = {Portland, Oregon},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA}
    	}
  • A. Sauppé, D. Szafir, C.M. Huang, and B. Mutlu (2015). From 9 to 90: Engaging Learners of All Ages. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2015), Kansas City, MO.

    [Acceptance rate: 36%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Sauppé2015,
    		author = {Sauppé, Allie, and Szafir, Daniel, and Huang, CM, and Mutlu, Bilge},
    		title = {From 9 to 90: Engaging Learners of All Ages},
    		booktitle = {To Appear in Proceedings of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education},
    		series = {SIGCSE ’15},
    		pages = {575--580},
    		year = {2015},
    		location = {Kansas City, Missouri},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA}
    	}
  • D. Szafir, B. Mutlu, and T. Fong (2014). Communication of Intent in Assistive Free Flyers. In Proceedings of the 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2014), Bielefeld, Germany.

    [Acceptance rate: 24%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2014,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel and Mutlu, Bilge and Fong, Terrence},
    		title = {Communication of Intent in Assistive Free Flyers},
    		booktitle = {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human-Robot Interaction},
    		series = {HRI ’14},
    		pages = {358--365},
    		year = {2014},
    		location = {Bielefeld, Germany},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA}
    	}
  • D. Szafir and B. Mutlu (2013). ARTFuL: Adaptive Review Technology for Flipped Learning. In Proceedings of the 31st ACM/SigCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2013), Paris, France.

    [Acceptance rate: 20%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2013,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel and Mutlu, Bilge},
    		title = {ARTFuL: Adaptive Review Technology for Flipped Learning},
    		booktitle = {Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
    		series = {CHI ’13},
    		pages = {1001--1010},
    		year = {2013},
    		location = {Paris, France},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA}
    	}
  • K. Ponto, R. Tredinnick, A. Bartholomew, C. Roy, D. Szafir, D. Greenheck, and J. Kohlmann (2013). SculptUp: A Rapid, Immersive 3D Modeling Environment. In Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI 2013), Orlando, Florida.

    Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Ponto2013sculptup,
    		author={Ponto, Kevin and Tredinnick, Ross and Bartholomew, Aaron and Roy, Carrie and Szafir, Daniel and Greenheck, Daniel and Kohlmann, Joe},
    		title = {SculptUp: A rapid, immersive 3D modeling environment},
    		booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces},
    		series = {3DUI ’13},
    		pages = {199--200},
    		year = {2013},
    		location = {Orlando, Florida},
    		organization={IEEE}
    	}
  • D. Szafir and B. Mutlu (2012). Pay Attention! Designing Adaptive Agents that Monitor and Improve User Engagement. In Proceedings of the 30th ACM/SigCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2012), Austin, TX.

    [Acceptance rate: 23%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2012,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel and Mutlu, Bilge},
    		title = {Pay attention!: designing adaptive agents that monitor and improve user engagement},
    		booktitle = {Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
    		series = {CHI ’12},
    		pages = {11--20},
    		year = {2012},
    		isbn = {978-1-4503-1015-4},
    		location = {Austin, Texas, USA},
    		numpages = {10},
    		url = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2207676.2207679},
    		doi = {10.1145/2207676.2207679},
    		acmid = {2207679},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA},
    	}
  • D. Szafir and R. Signorile (2011). An Exploration of the Utilization of Electroencephalography and Nueral Nets to Control Robots. In Proceedings of the 2011 IFIP TC 13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (INTERACT 2011), Lisbon, Portugal.

    [Acceptance rate: 22%] Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2011,
        		author = {Szafir, Dan and Signorile, Robert},
    	        title = {An exploration of the utilization of electroencephalography and neural nets to control robots},
    	        booktitle = {Proceedings of the 13th IFIP TC 13 international conference on Human-computer interaction - Volume Part IV},
    	        series = {INTERACT'11},
    	        year = {2011},
    	        isbn = {978-3-642-23767-6},
    	        location = {Lisbon, Portugal},
    	        pages = {186--194},
    	        numpages = {9},
    	        url = {http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2042283.2042303},
    	        acmid = {2042303},
    	        publisher = {Springer-Verlag},
    	        address = {Berlin, Heidelberg},
    	}

Doctoral Consortiums, Posters, and Workshops:

  • D. Szafir (2014). Human Interaction with Assistive Free-Flyers. In Proceedings of the 32nd ACM/SigCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2014) Doctoral Consortium Extended Abstracts, Toronto, Canada.

    [Acceptance rate: 25%] PDF Poster BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2014,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel J.},
    		title = {Human Interaction with Assistive Free-Flyers},
    		booktitle = {CHI '14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
    		series = {CHI EA '14},
    		pages = {347--350},
    		year = {2014},
    		location = {Toronto, Canada},
    		publisher = {ACM},
    		address = {New York, NY, USA}
    	}
  • D. Szafir (2014). Human Interaction with Assistive Free-Flyers. HRI Pioneers Workshop, Bielefeld, Germany.

    [Acceptance rate: 36%] PDF Poster

  • S. Johnson, X.Z. Tan, D. Szafir, and B. Mutlu (2014). Using At-A-Glance Displays to Enhance Student Attention. In McPherson Eye Research Institute (MERI) Poster Symposium, Madison, WI.

  • D. Szafir and K. Ponto (2012). Panoramic Imagery of Physical Locations inside Immersive Environments. In Midwest Graphics Workshop (MidGraph 2012), Chicago, IL.

    Download BibTeX

    	@inproceedings{Szafir2012,
    		author = {Szafir, Daniel and Ponto, Kevin},
    		title = {Panoramic Imagery of Physical Locations inside Immersive Environments},
    		booktitle = {Midwest Graphics Workshop},
    		series = {MidGraph ’12},
    		year = {2012},
    		location = {Chicago, Illinois, USA},
    	}

Printable Version: PDF ~287kb

I love teaching and helping students gain new technical skills, problem solving abilities, and an appreciation for how technology can benefit society. I've been fortunate to have opportunities to work with a variety of students, running outreach courses for young and senior students as well as acting as an instructor in more traditional classrooms.

(2013 - 2014) Instructor: Grandparents University

Grandparents University (GPU) is a two day program where grandparents and their grandchildren (ages 8-14) pick a topic to “major” in. I have taught multiple sessions of the "Social Robotics" major since 2013 and have engaged both grandparents and grandchildren using presentations, videos, hands-on activities, and programming with Lego Mindstorms. Pictures from my most recent session can be found here.

Additionally, my fellow instructors and I will be presenting a paper detailing the development of our course, with an emphasis on the challenges and opportunities in teaching classes with students of all ages, at the 2015 ACM SIGCSE conference.

(2010 - 2011) Lecturer/Instructor: CS 302 Introduction to Programming

I worked as an instructor at the teaching assistant level for three semesters (Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Fall 2011) giving lectures to small (~22 student) sections regarding introductory Java programming. Additionally, I was employed at the lecturer position for a large (88 student) summer semester (2011) class covering the same material. Responsibilities included preparing and presenting lectures, supervising TA graders, and creating and grading homework, programming assignments, quizzes, midterms, and finals. I consistently recieved positive feedback from both my students and supervisor, and I received two student-nominated teaching awards:

Across all courses I have taught, I have received an average rating of 4.57/5.00 (112 responses) from students answering the question: would you recommend the instructor? My full teaching evaluation scores can be found here.

Fun Side Projects:

I've collaborated with researchers in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) and the Living Environments Labratory on a number of side projects exploring immersive virtual reality systems as a novel form of interactive technology.

  • Ski Mountain: Designing a Virtual Reality Skiing Experience

    In this project, I worked to create an immersive simulator that allows users to ski, snowboard, or sled down a virtual mountain. This project has been showcased in the WID Science Fesival and featured in the Wisconsin State Journal.
  • SculptUp: A Rapid, Immersive 3D Modeling Environment

    This project explored the creation of SculptUp, a system that enables users to rapidly develop 3D models for use in animation or 3D-printing. As opposed to traditional modeling tools run on desktop systems, SculptUp works within a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, enabling the creation of 3D models within an immersive 3D environment. SculptUp was created as part of an entry to the 2013 IEEE 3D User Interface (3DUI) Symposium Contest.
  • Panoramic Imagery of Physical Locations inside Immersive Environments

    In this project, I created immersive panoramas of real locations by merging data from Google Street View with a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. Such virtual representations of real world physical locations might be used in virtual tourism, exploration, or meeting locations. This work was presented at the 2012 Midwest Graphics Workshop (MidGraph) and has received interest from industry.

Email:

daniel.szafir {at} colorado.edu


Mail:

Daniel J. Szafir, Assistant Professor
Rosser ATLAS Building
University of Colorado Boulder
1125 18th St. 320 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0320 USA