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Federica Nenna


My research focuses on analyzing psychological, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of human operators while using new technologies applied to the work and industry sectors. I am particularly interested in exploring relationships and possible interactions between physical and virtual worlds, through the use of robots, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR). I find the simulation power of AR and VR incredibly advantageous, both for industrial applications and for scientific research.

Indeed, I work on designing, implementing, and testing AR/VR-based simulative platforms and digital twins that enable operators to get immersed in virtual worlds and interact naturally and safely with digital robots. These solutions go far beyond traditional desktop-based interactions, leveraging humans' natural,  physical and embodied capabilities and enhancing their work experiences. Additionally, every interaction in AR/VR generates a great amount of data, such as body tracking and eye movement data, opening new opportunities for analyzing human behavior in simulated environments.

Beyond virtual settings, I am particularly interested in studying the dynamics of collaboration between humans and collaborative robots (cobots) employed in industries. These robots share workspaces and tasks with human operators, requiring a synergic integration of human’s and robot’s actions and intentions. Concepts like human trust, perceived fluency and semantics of the collaboration, task allocation, and perceptions relative to the own work role are central within the human-robot interplay.

In my research approach, I prioritize a highly multidisciplinary and human-centered perspective. I like to employ a mixed-methods approach, combining behavioral and motion analysis techniques, self-report and qualitative investigations, as well as psychophysiological techniques like eye-tracking, heart rate monitoring, electroencephalogram (EEG), and Mobile Brain/Body Imaging (MoBI). Together, these methodologies provide a comprehensive view of the operator and their performance, informing on their levels of attention, fatigue, stress, and cognitive load in an experimental context, all while preserving the fundamental freedom of action characteristic of highly ecological settings.

Outside of academia, I cannot resist traveling, attending concerts, and having good food. I have always been passionate about dance and natural movement, and recently discovered a new passion for Kalari yoga. For the past four years, I have shared spaces and experiences with Pablo, my cherished red cat who even has a special passport to follow me in my adventures.