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Faculty Focus: Marlena Fraune, College of Arts and Sciences

  • By Minerva Baumann
  • mbauma46@nmsu.edu
  • Jan 25, 2022
Head and shoulders of a woman

Marlena Fraune joined New Mexico State University in August 2018 as an assistant professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focus is human-robot interaction.

In addition to teaching, Fraune spends much of her time meeting with graduate and undergraduate students about research and meets weekly with research project groups. During these meetings, the team brainstorms about next steps for research projects and solutions to any challenges. She often meets with national and international collaborators to advance research projects. Currently, she is collaborating with researchers at the United States Air Force Academy to determine how to improve use of semi-autonomous cars. She is also working with researchers from Germany to study ethics of robots becoming part of human teams. She funds her own research and manages funding from various grants to purchase needed equipment, like robots.

“Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent, in homes, schools and factories,” said Fraune. “The goal is for robots to improve human lives. To that end, I study how robots can better collaborate with and support people. I love working with diverse perspectives of researchers around the world to find more ways that technology can improve people's lives.”

Fraune has been teaching engineering psychology. “I facilitate students to partner with the Museum of Nature and Science,” Fraune said. “Through this partnership, the students help museum staff improve aspects of their program. For example, one group helped create a system for museum staff and museum patrons to propose new educational programs.”