2013 Distinguished Alumni Service Award
Steven LaValle received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1990, 1993, and 1995, respectively. He then went to Stanford University in 1995, where he was a postdoctoral researcher and then lecturer. In 1997 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University. In summer 2000 he was a visiting faculty member at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. In 2001 he returned the University of Illinois, joining the Department of Computer Science, where he currently holds the rank of professor.
LaValle is a recognized expert in robotics. He focuses on the design of planning algorithms, examining problems that involve continuous spaces, complicated geometric constraints, differential constraints, and/or sensing uncertainties. In addition is interested both in theoretical analysis and practical implementation issues.
In 2004-2007, LaValle served as the coordinator of graduate admission and advancement. In this position he spearheaded the CS Department’s graduate program, supervised admissions policies, and coordinated recruitment efforts.
Currently, LaValle is on leave from the university, and he is working as principal scientist at Oculus VR, which is developing Oculus Rift, a low-cost virtual reality headset for immersive gaming.
At Illinois, LaValle has appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students numerous times. He received the C. W. Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the CS Department in 2003. In 2009 he received the Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics from the Association of American Publishers.
LaValle is author of two books: Planning Algorithms (2006) and Sensing and Filtering: A Fresh Perspective Based on Preimages and Information Spaces (2012). In addition he is author or co-author of numerous book chapters, journal articles, and conference presentations. In 2012 he was named a University Scholar, a distinction that recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.