Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs

Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs is an Associate Professor with the Departments for Mathematical & Computational Sciences, Computer Science, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, the founding Director of the Continuum Robotics Laboratory, and Associate Director of the Robotics Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada.

From 2013 to 2019 she was with Leibniz University Hannover, Germany and from 2010 to 2012 with Vanderbilt University, USA. She received her Diplom and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Her research focus lies on continuum robotics and in particular on their design, modelling, planning and control, as well as human-robot interaction. Her fundamental robotics research is driven by applications in minimally-invasive surgery, non-destructive inspection, and maintenance, repair, and operations.

In 2015, her research was recognized with the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, the Lower Saxony Science Award in the category Young Researcher, and she was entitled Young Researcher of the Year 2015 in Germany. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences awarded her the Engineering Science Prize in 2016. She was elected as one of the Top 40 under 40 in the category Science and Society in 2015, 2016, and 2017 by the business magazine Capital. In 2019, Jessica was nominated as Young Global Leader from the World Economic Forum.

Academic Positions

Associate Chair, Computer Science

Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada


Continuum Robotics Laboratory, University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada

Associate Professor

Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada
Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada

Associate Professor

Director Laboratory for Continuum Robotics

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Leibniz University Hannover, Germany

Research Associate

Director Emmy Noether Research Group CROSS
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Leibniz University Hannover, Germany



Doctor of Engineering (Dr.-Ing. ~Ph.D.)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Computer Science


Diplom (~B.Sc./M.Sc.)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Computer Science

Honors & Awards

Awarded March 2019

Elected as Member of the Young Global Leaders Class of 2019 of the World Economic Forum

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2015 – 2017

Category: Science and Society, Capital (German business magazine)

November 2016

Awarded by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), Germany for outstanding achievements in the engineering sciences by young engineers and scientists in research or industry.

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May 2015

Awarded by the German Research Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The prize is considered the highest distinction for early career researchers in Germany. Since 1977 the prize is awarded by the German Research Foundation to early career researchers as a distinction for outstanding achievement across all disciplines.

It is intended to assist in furthering their scientific careers. The prize is not to be seen simply as a distinction of the thesis alone. Rather, prizewinners have already established an independent scientific career since having gained their doctorates.

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Awarded by Academics Career Portal for Research and Science of ZEIT and the German Association of University Professors and Lecturer (DHV), Germany

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Awarded May 2018

November 2015

Category II: Young Researchers Awarded by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony, Germany

Awarded by the state of Lower Saxony in Germany in distinction of early career researchers with significant contributions and outstanding performance in research and teaching.

2012 – 2013

Support Program: Returning German Scientists from Abroad, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)