Dr Sylvain Calinon,
Idiap Research Institute,
Centre du Parc, Rue Marconi 19,
CH-1920 Martigny, Switzerland

+41 27 721 77 61

Born in 1980 at Yverdon, Switzerland.
Marital status: Single.   Citizenships: Swiss and French.

Short bio

I am a Senior Research Scientist at the Idiap Research Institute, with research interests covering robot learning, human-robot collaboration, optimal control and model-based optimization. I am also a Lecturer at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

From 2009 to 2014, I was a Team Leader at the Department of Advanced Robotics, Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). From 2007 to 2009, I was a Postdoc at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory, EPFL. I hold a PhD from EPFL (2007), awarded by the Robotdalen Scientific Award, ABB Award and EPFL-Press Distinction. Other recognitions include Best Paper Award in the journal of Intelligent Service Robotics (ISR, 2017), Best Paper Award at IEEE Ro-Man'2007, Best Poster Award at ICRA'2021 Workshop, Best Presentation Award at CoRL'2019, and Best Paper Award Finalist at IEEE-RAS Humanoids'2009, IEEE/RSJ IROS'2013, ICIRA'2015 and IEEE ICRA'2016. I served as Associate Editor in IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO) and IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), and I currently serve as TC Chair on Model-based optimization for robotics for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS).

The collaborative projects I am or have been involved in include SMART-DISPENSING, INTELLIMAN, SESTOSENSO, SWITCH, CODIMAN, COB'HOOK, LEARN-REAL, HEAP, NATAI, COLLABORATE, MEMMO, ROSALIS, DEXROV, I-DRESS, TACT-HAND, PLATFORM-MMD, STIFF-FLOP, PANDORA, SMART-E, SAPHARI, AMARSI, ROBOT@CWE, FEELIX GROWING and COGNIRON, supported by the European Commission, by the Swiss National Science Foundation, by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, and by the Swiss Innovation Agency.

You can download my research statement as a PDF file.

Research Experience

Jan 2018-curr.
Senior Research Scientist
Research Scientist
External Collaborator
Postdoctoral Researcher
Sep 2003
Visiting Researcher
Humanoid Robotics and Computational Neuroscience department (HRCN) (Prof. Gordon Cheng), Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute (ATR), Kyoto, Japan.


PhD Robotics
Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. Thesis: 'Continuous Extraction of Task Constraints in a Robot Programming by Demonstration Framework'
Prof. Aude Billard, EPFL, Switzerland.
Prof. Hannes Bleuler, EPFL, Switzerland,
Prof. Hervé Bourlard, Director of Idiap Research Institute, Switzerland,
Dr Yiannis Demiris, Imperial College London (ICL), UK,
Prof. Stefan Schaal, University of Southern California (USC), USA.
Robotdalen Scientific Award,   ABB Award,   EPFL-Press distinction.
May 1st, 2007. Public presentation: July 6th, 2007.
MSc Microeng.
Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL), EPFL, Switzerland. Thesis: 'PDA Interface for Humanoid Robots using Speech and Vision Processing'
Prof. Aude Billard, EPFL, Switzerland.
March 1st, 2003.
BSc Microeng.
EPFL, Switzerland.


Personal prizes

Excellence in Reviewing, Robotics and Autonomous Systems (Elsevier).
  In recognition of an outstanding contribution to the quality of the journal
Robotdalen Scientific Award for Best 2007 PhD Thesis.
  The jury was impressed by the practical and economic importance of the problem, the systematic analysis and innovative layered approach of its implementation, the completeness of the solution, and the open release of source code, demonstrating confidence in the solution independence from specifics of any particular robot hardware or manipulation task.
ABB Award for Best 2007 PhD Thesis.
  For the thorough and exemplary work in his Ph.D. thesis and important scientific contributions resolving two major issues in robot programming by demonstration.
EPFL-Press distinction for Best 2007 PhD Thesis.

Group prizes

Winner of the NeurIPS 2023 Robot Air Hockey Challenge (AiRLIHockey Team, with Julius Jankowski and Ante Marić).
12 Stars of Europe Award by the French Research Minister for the H2020 MEMMO European project coordinated by LAAS.
IEEE RAS TC Award, IEEE RAS Most Active Technical Committee Award with Adrien Escande, Yue Hu, and Patrick Wensing.
PROSE Awards as co-author of a chapter in the Handbook of Robotics (Springer) distinguished by two PROSE Awards.
First prize in the Grand Challenge on Human-Robot Interaction at the IEEE Intl Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA'2008), LASA-EPFL Team.

Prizes awarded to my students

Best Paper Award, Tobias Löw, Idiap Award.
Student Award, Teguh Lembono, Idiap Award.
Best Paper Award, Suhan Shetty, Idiap Award.
Student Award, Noémie Jaquier, Idiap Award.


h-index: 55,   13'000+ citations*.

The complete list of my publications can be found in the publications section.

Publications highlights