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Ecsite 2024 Keynote speaker announcement

Ecsite is delighted to welcome keynote speakers Hugh Herr and Ana Rajcevic to Ecsite 2024 in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Friday 7 June at 10.30- 11.30.

About Hugh Herr
Hugh Herr is creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. Time Magazine coined Dr. Herr the ‘Leader of the Bionic Age’ because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of Biomechatronics - technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. A double amputee himself, he is responsible for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. He is Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Associate Investigator at the McGovern Institute at MIT. Professor Herr directs the MIT Biomechatronics Group and co-directs the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics.

Herr is the author and co-author of over 350 peer-reviewed manuscripts and patents, chronicling the science and technology behind his many innovations. These innovations include powered leg exoskeletons and prostheses, and neural interfacing technologies. A powered ankle-foot prosthesis called EmPower, which emulates the action of a biological leg and, for the first time, provides amputees with a natural gait, was named to the list of Top Ten Inventions in the health category by TIME magazine. Today the EmPower Ankle-Foot Prosthesis has been clinically shown to be the first leg prosthesis in history to reach human normalization, allowing amputees to walk with normal levels of speed, musculoskeletal stress, and metabolism. His research group also developed the first autonomous exoskeleton shown to reduce the metabolic cost of walking. Herr’s MIT group has also invented novel mechanoneural Interfaces to the peripheral nervous system, surgical amputation procedures combined with neural interfacing technologies that enable persons with limb loss to neurally control their synthetic limbs, as well as to experience natural proprioceptive and cutaneous sensations. Herr has received many accolades for his groundbreaking innovations, including the 13th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment; the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in
Technology, the 14th Innovator of the Year Award, and the 41st Inventor of the Year Award, the Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research, and the Liberty Museum Genius Award. Hugh's story has been told in a National Geographic film, Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr; and episodes and articles featured in CNN, The Economist, Discover and Nature.

About Ana Rajcevic

Dr. Ana Rajcevic is an artist, designer, lecturer and researcher, working at the intersection of sculpture, prosthetics and technology. Her work focuses on different ways of altering the body through the creation of 'hybrid prosthetics' – or what she terms ‘chimeric embodiments’ – external chimeric limbs that augment human physicality. By challenging the notion of strictly human-centric aesthetic, Rajcevic creates alternate evolutionary structures that lead us beyond our human physicality, sensory experience and cognition. Looking at technologies as a means to enhance human experience, she explores phenomenological, material, and the embodied nature of hybrid body -augmentations, focusing on their metaphorical potential and unforeseeable transformations.
Her work spans across multiple platforms that include scientific research, art installations, exhibitions, performances and photo/video works. With a multi-disciplinary inquiry that combines experimental art and design with research in biomedicine, robotics, materials science, and psychology, Rajcevic creates hybrid human-embodiments using most notably natural and synthetic polymers and medical
biomaterials, as well as novel technologies, such as AI, robotics and biotechnologies.

Ana Rajcevic’s works have been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries such as the Smithsonian Museum (USA), Boijmans Museum (NL), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (DE), Science Museum (UK), Science Week (DE) and Venice Design Biennale (IT), and are in the permanent collection of Design Museum den Bosch (NL), NumannHug collection (CH), Arnsberg Kunstverein (DE) among others. She has
received multiple awards for her work, and since 2015 she has been elected member of the RSA - Royal Society of Arts in London. Furthermore, Rajcevic work has been published in print and digital media such as the "Independent", the "Guardian", the "Wired", the "CNN", etc.

Ana holds a PhD in Artistic Research from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, and is also a visiting lecturer at UAL- the University of the Arts, London. Starting in 2024, Dr. Rajcevic joined the MIT Biomechatronic Lab at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, as a Research Scientist, continuing her research in hybrid embodiments.