(Posted September 8, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Who better to teach a machine how to learn than a researcher interested in continuing her own learning experience? Kiri Wagstaff, a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, will lecture at Juniata College on "Lifelong Learning" at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Wagstaff works in the Machine Learning Systems Group at the lab, where she investigates ways that machine learning can improve the autonomy of space missions. Most of her work there focuses on the automated analysis of data generated by instruments and machines used by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab, in Pasadena, Calif., and on enabling technologies for autonomous spacecraft.

Wagstaff does not, however, spend all of her time in the laboratory. She is currently working on a master's degree in geology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Calif. She also is taking lessons in ballroom dance and creates artwork using pressed leaves. She has written short stories and poetry as well.

Wagstaff earned a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University. She earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Utah in 1997.

After earning her doctorate in 2002, Wagstaff worked for a year at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She worked on a variety of projects, including a system for weather prediction in space and a fault protection system for the Messenger spacecraft.

She has published numerous papers on machine learning and artificial intelligence in such professional journals as AI Magazine, Planetary and Space Science and Advances in Space Research. She is currently co-editing a book, "Constrained Clustering: Advances in Algorithms, Theory, and Applications."

Wagstaff teaches several courses, including one on machine learning, at California State University, Los Angeles.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.