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Hugh Herr SM '93

Associate Professor of MIT Media Arts and Sciences
Associate Professor, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology 
Director, Biomechatronics Group (Media Lab)

Associate Professor of MIT Media Arts and Sciences
Associate Professor, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology 
Director, Biomechatronics Group (Media Lab)

Hugh Herr S.M. ‘93
Associate Professor of MIT Media Arts and Sciences
Associate Professor, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences  & Technology
Director, Biomechatronics Group (Media Lab)


Professor Herr’s work in the emerging field of biomechatronics is focused on developing physically assistive technologies that are intimate extensions of the human body.  A double amputee himself, he has become the leader of the bionic age for his breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs, and for challenging us to rethink the meaning of disability and the potentials of human augmentation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has funded his research aimed to help veteran amputees, in collaboration with Brown University and the Providence VA Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine.

Professor Herr received his B.A. in physics from Millersville University in Pennsylvania, his S.M. in mechanical engineering from MIT and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University.

Highlights of this interview include:

  • Born in rural Pennsylvania, he became a mountain climbing prodigy beginning at age 7.
  • Professor Herr recounts his climbing accident on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire at age 17.  Tissue damage from frostbite lead to the amputation of both legs below the knee.
  • His personal quest for functional prosthetic legs eventually lead to his career in Biomechatronics.
  • The development of an artificial knee and a bionic foot-ankle prosthesis.
  • Work at the MIT Media Lab on the development of human augmentation through wearables and the extraordinary convergence of biology and engineering.
  • The current development of orthoses and exoskeletons to augment normal human physicality,
  • Founded the No Barriers Boston Fund to pay for prosthetic devices for those who lost limbs in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack.
  • Look to the future where the use of technology will eliminate disability in this century.

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