How do I get involved with PARSES?


Applying for PhD in EE

Thank you for your interest! It is one of the highlights of my job to be able to work with students. I am planning to recruit 0-1 PhD EE student for Fall 2023. Please read below for more information.

I work with students on projects that are closely aligned with PARSES’s current projects; the website and publications will give you a sense of these. Soft robotics and wearable devices are both large fields, so please make sure our research interests are well-aligned before applying. While I think they’re very exciting areas of study, students who are interested in ML, AI, controls, field robotics, SLAM, CV, or other research areas in robotics or ECE outside of PARSES research should not apply to my group. There are many people in the world doing impactful work in these areas and who are well-suited to advise dissertations. I am not one of them.

If you are a prospective EE PhD student and you HAVE external-to-Northeastern funding (national fellowship, GEM, etc.):

Please send me an email letting me know you have external funding and are interested in my group and send a 1-paragraph explanation of the research you’re interested in, or attach your research statement from your funding application. We will set up a time to talk if your research seems well-aligned.

If you are a prospective EE PhD student and you do not have external funding (most students):

Apply to the EE PhD program and list Kris Dorsey as a faculty member whom you’ve contacted. To make sure the students who email me don’t get an “unfair” advantage, I will review all the applications I receive and *then* reach out to speak with students. Please don’t email me with your CV or other application documents; I will not read them before reading applications. I am sorry that I cannot provide personalized guidance on whether I might consider your application before you apply. I imagine it can be challenging to interpret whether you should apply to a particular program or group amongst your many options. I offer some general guidelines and tips below. 

Generally, I will consider applications from students who are interested in a CCSP or MSMD concentration, who have BS or MS coursework that has prepared them for a CCSP or MSMD concentration, a GPA that indicates they are likely to successfully complete Northeastern’s graduate coursework (>3.0 for applicants with a BS, >3.5 for applicants with an MS). Previous research experience or publications are recommended but not a requirement to join PARSES. If a student is prepared to undertake Northeastern ECE coursework, there is no particular major or skill set that is critical– folks have joined with backgrounds in CS, EE, ME, neuroscience, and beyond.

Aside from previous coursework and project experience, you should have a clearly written research statement of purpose that explains 1) why you’re interested in research at a PhD level, 2) what specific research questions you think are critical to wearable devices or soft robotics and are aligned with PARSES’s goals and projects, and 3) why your background and previous experiences have prepared you to begin this research. If you don’t have previous research experience, please write about related independent projects, internships, and project-based coursework to show how you’ve previously undertaken independent, project-oriented work. 

I read these statements carefully, so I encourage you to write and revise at least 2-3 draft to make it clear and detailed. (Also! Writing is an important communication skill for engineers, and I will be very interested in talking further with students who display a solid grasp of this skill for their career stage). To make your statement clearer, you may find it helpful to use editing software (e.g., Grammarly, MS Word), to make an editing group with other students from your university who are applying to grad school, to ask friends or family to read and make comments, or to visit your university’s writing center if that’s an available resource.

Applying for MS or Postdoc

Unfortunately, I don’t currently have funding for MS or postdoc positions. If you already have funding (e.g., national fellowship), please email me with a 1-paragraph research description or the research statement you wrote to apply for your funding source. If our research interests seem well-aligned, I’ll be in touch with a time to talk via phone/video.

Already at or admitted to NU

Potential undergraduate researchers:

I think undergraduate research is critical to building the next generation of engineers, and I welcome applications from interested students in ECE, ME, CS, and related majors with interests in robotics or wearable devices.

Making progress on research projects requires a significant time investment (8+ hours/week), so I don’t typically accept undergraduate students for volunteer positions. I believe if you are working that many hours in the lab each week, you should get tangible benefit, either through academic credit or pay. I may allow volunteer positions on a case-by-case basis (e.g., max credits) but typically not for fewer than 6 hours/week.

If you want to learn more but can’t commit to 8+ hours, you are welcome to attend one lab meeting and read some of the papers we’ve found interesting to get a sense of the lab’s work. If this is your situation, please email and I’ll send you a follow up email with this semester’s meeting schedule.

Please apply through ECE’s undergraduate research process (you complete a form on airtable, the form will also be sent by email from the ECE vice chair for ugrad education) and list whether you are looking for credit, pay, or either. I will contact and meet with ugrad students whose research interests seem well-aligned. Please submit your application there at least one month before the start of the semester (Fall, Spring, Full Summer).

You may also consider applying for Northeastern’s PEAK Award or HERA Award (honors early research). I am happy to advise students who wish to apply for these awards.

Potential NU MS researchers

Unfortunately, I do not currently have funding to support MS students. If you are interested in a for-credit MS project or thesis project, please email a concise and detailed 1-paragraph research description. If it’s well aligned with current efforts, I will email to set up a time to talk further

How do I learn more about soft robotics and what PARSES is up to?

Please make sure you check out the projects page which (should) have the most up-to-date information on what projects we’re working on. If you want to learn more about soft robotics, please look at some of the resources below.

Why do we need soft robots? (a nice intro to the field w/videos)

The Soft Robotics Toolkit (how we make some of the stuff we make)

Hard questions for soft robotics (an interesting paper about new challenges)