Welcome to our new HFAC faculty member, Elizabeth Phillips!

Welcome to our new HFAC faculty member, Elizabeth Phillips! Image

Hi! My name is Elizabeth Phillips, most people call me Beth. I am joining you all from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, where I was an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership for two years. Although I was living in a perpetually snowy place, I am a native Floridian. And in the past few years have moved between Florida, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Virginia. I’ve enjoyed getting to see a lot of the country in the process of moving between all of these places. I have a twin brother. We look nothing alike, and he is a lot cooler than I am.

Do you have any hobbies?

            Well, I feel like right now deserves a discussion of hobbies pre and post-pandemic. I feel like I had many more pre-pandemic. I started to learn to ski while in Colorado. Although I’m not very good at it, I find it a lot of fun. I make a Star Trek Podcast with friends, where we review the bad episodes of Star Trek. It’s called Make It So-So Podcast. I play video games with some other HFAC faculty, the purpose of which started as a means to look into games as an experimental testbed for human-AI teaming.  I’m also a giant nerd for the National Parks and have spent the past few years trying to visit as many as I can. I’m really looking forward to exploring the ones in the NOVA and DC region. Post pandemic, I feel like my hobbies look a lot like the rest of the department, which I’m sure all of you can relate to. Fortunately, I think I’ve learned some new skills as a result. Post pandemic hobbies and skills include: trying to convince at-risk parents they need to stay out of Walmart (Negotiations), coming up with creative ways to apologize for how far behind I am (Prose), quickly covering my microphone to reduce pet noises in recorded lectures (Audio Engineering), getting the perfect webcam angle to hide the fact that I am working right next to my bed, or in my kitchen, or near the bathroom (Photography and Cinematography), and running (Therapy).


Have you always been interested in studying psychology and what initially sparked your interest?

I got interested in studying Psychology early during my first year of college. I think because I hadn’t been exposed to many of the concepts previously. But I went to college thinking that I was going to major in Saxophone performance or music education.


What will you be working on in the psychology department?

Well, my research specialization is in human interactions with robots, autonomous systems, and emerging technologies like augmented and virtual reality. I’ll be joining the HFAC crew and hoping to get students working on these topics soon.


What is your favorite part about working at a university?

I realized a few years ago that I am an intensely curious person and I like other people who get excited about being curious too. Universities seem to be a good place for that. I also really enjoy mentoring students, especially those who are first-generation college students like me.


Anything else you would like to share?

Such as publication and presentation links or anything else you would like students and colleagues to know.  Two recent things that I am really proud of include the 2020 U.S. Robotics Roadmap. This is a document that outlines specific societal drivers and needs that the robotics research community can help address over the coming decade. I helped author this document in an intense 2-day workshop with other roboticists around the country. It was so much fun and I think turned out really well. You can find it here: https://www.asme.org/government-relations/capitol-update/2020-updated-u-s-robotics-roadmap-released The second is ongoing work with the Robotics: Science and Systems conference (R:SS)  in supporting their Women in Robotics and Inclusion @ R:SS programs. You can find a bit more information about these programs here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S7KLwm8AVGW30ArOT6AOtAWc_-1sEaAZ/view?usp=sharing

Thanks to everyone, and I am excited to be joining the Psych faculty at George Mason!