Jana Pavlasek

Robotics PhD Candidate @ University of Michigan

she / her
(Pronounced: Yana Pav-LA-sek)
   pavlasek [at] umich [dot] edu


I'm a PhD candidate in the Robotics Department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I work in the Lab for Progress with Prof. Chad Jenkins. Previously, I studied Electrical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where I worked with the Mobile Robotics Lab. I also interned at NVIDIA's Robotics Lab.

My research focuses on uncertainty in robotics. My work touches on how to represent uncertainty in perception systems, and how to handle uncertainty in planning. I'm particularly interested in how to combine probabilistic inference with machine learning.

Research Projects

Here are some of my recent, representative publications and projects. For all my papers, see my publications section or my    Google Scholar.

Distributed Inference for Multi-Robot Coordination

How can we capture the complexity of multi-robot coordination? We propose Stein Variational Belief Propagation, an algorithm for performing inference on graphs. Then, we use it to infer trajectories for decentralized multi-robot control.

  RA-L '24 Paper      Video      Website

Planning to Uncertain Goals

How can we plan to arbitrary goal regions? We looked out how to plan to goals that are hard to model (e.g. stable grasping) by using valid goal samples directly as a planning objective.

  CoRL '23 Paper      Video      Website

Articulated Object Pose Estimation by Parts

Pose estimation is challenging in heavy clutter with many occlusions. We model objects as graphs of their parts and fuse known geometric priors with a learned likelihood to get robust pose estimates for articulated objects.

  IROS '20 Paper      Video      Website

Distributed Teaching Collaboratives for Robotics

How can we scale robotics and AI education? In a Distributed Teaching Collaborative, instructors at different universities share resources by offering courses in parallel. We're teaching an introductory robotics class with real robots at Michigan and partner institutions.

  Learn about the HelloRob course


I'm passionate about teaching and have been lucky to teach some great groups of students during my PhD at the University of Michigan. Most recently, I've had the opportunity to co-develop a new course, Hello, Robot! Intro to Artificial Intelligence and Programming. This video describes the pilot offering of the course in 2021!

Previous Teaching

Hello, Robot! Intro to Artificial Intelligence and Programming
Distributed Teaching Collaborative between University of Michigan, Berea College, and Howard University
Developer, Teaching Consultant
Fall 2023
Intro to Artificial Intelligence and Programming (ROB 102)
University of Michigan
Developer, Co-instructor
Fall 2022
Fall 2021
Mathematics for Robotics (ROB 501)
University of Michigan
Graduate Student Instructor
Fall 2019
Fall 2020
Autonomous Robotics (EECS 467)
University of Michigan
Graduate Student Instructor
Winter 2020
Design Principles & Methods (ECSE 211)
McGill University
Teaching Assistant
Winter 2016
Fall 2017