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Ayanna Howard
 
Dr. Ayanna HowardDr. Ayanna Howard received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Brown University, her M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 1999. At USC, she researched the use of artificial intelligence techniques to embed autonomous capabilities in real-world mechanical systems. During her career, Dr. Howard has been a key leader in the development of two artificial intelligence packages that utilize genetic algorithms and neural networks to solve real-world problems. Dr. Howard's expertise is in neural networks, robotics, fuzzy logic, and machine vision. She has published over 30 journal articles, conference papers, and technical reports on the successful use of AI techniques in a number of projects - from intelligent terrain assessment algorithms to cognitive sensor technology. Since 1990, she has been at the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology where she has led research efforts on various projects utilizing vision, fuzzy logic, and neural network methodologies. In 2001, Dr. Howard received the Lew Allen Award for Excellence in Research - the highest honor possible at JPL in recognition of significant leadership and technological innovation performed during the early years of an employee's professional career. Her current responsibilities include managing a team of engineers to develop an intelligent software tool for terrain-based analysis of the Martian surface and leading a technology development effort to create a real-time software package for autonomous rover navigation. She currently serves as Member of Technical Staff with the Telerobotics Research and Applications Group at NASA-JPL.

In addition to her technical contributions, Dr. Howard is actively involved in social action activities within the community. She serves as an Executive Board Member of JobStarts, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps individuals and families successfully gain economic stability, improved self-esteem, and self-reliance through work. She is also Chair of the Pasadena Delta Academy, a nationally recognized program focused on mentoring young "at-risk" African-American girls and encouraging them to pursue careers in math and science. Other community activities include functioning as a computer tutor for staff members of Restore, Inc., a shelter for battered women and children and, in her spare time, Dr. Howard speaks to students around the world about the wonders of Robotics, computers, and technology.

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