Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Research Fellow

Sara Berndt
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Sara Berndt is a research fellow at Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After receiving a BFA in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, USA in 2016, Sara began working with Conor Walsh of Harvard, and Donald Holland of the University College Dublin as part of the Soft Robotic Toolkit development team. Her MRSEC-supported work focuses on helping to curate and publish contributions to the field of soft robotics to the Toolkit's online open-source platform, specifically emphasizing the advancements to material science, manufacturing methods, and mechanical design technologies developed within a variety of international research labs. She also works to develop educational materials for teaching soft robotics to younger audiences and in low-resource environments. Her research focuses on testing these materials in workshop and outreach activities, collecting data in efforts to evaluate how short-term engineering exposure affects student perceptions and abilities. As part of the Toolkit development team, she also helped to facilitate the annual Soft Robotics Design and Research Competitions, an open-ended design competition designed to challenge and engage the community.