21st Century - Robotics

Nadia Magnenat Thalmann

Nadia Magnenat Thalmann is a computer graphics scientist and robotician and is the founder and head of MIRALab at the University of Geneva. She has chaired the Institute for Media Innovation at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore from 2009 to 2021.


Thalmann received an MS in Psychology, an MS in Biology and a Master in Biochemistry at the University of Geneva. She obtained a PhD in Quantum Physics in 1977 from the same university. She started her career as an assistant professor at the University Laval in Canada, then became a professor at HEC, University of Montreal until 1988. In 1989, she moved to the University of Geneva where she founded the MIRALab laboratory.[citation needed]

Thalmann has authored and co-authored more than 600 papers in the area of Virtual Humans, social robots, VR, and 3D simulation of human articulations.[citation needed] She has participated in more than 45 European research projects.[1] She has served the Computer Graphics community by creating the Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA) in Geneva in 1988, as well as managing Computer Graphics International (CGI).[citation needed] She is the editor-in-chief of the journal The Visual Computer published by Springer, Germany[2] and co editor-in-chief of the Computer Animation Journal published by Wiley.[3]


Thalmann has made numerous research contributions in the general area of computer graphics and is best known for her work on simulating realistic virtual humans. She also made early contributions in computer graphics during her PhD by simulating and visualizing 3D electronic densities of the Schrödinger equation’s approximate solutions (1977).[4][5]

Later on, she pioneered the modelling of realistic Virtual Humans, particularly producing the first simulation of a 3D version of Marilyn Monroe[6][7][8][9][10][11] in the film Rendez-vous in Montreal (1987)[12][13][14]

This film was shown in world premiere at the Place des Arts in Montreal to celebrate 100 years of engineering in Canada.[15] She also showed her film at the Modern Art Museum in New York in 1988 along with Canadian computer artists.[16]

She made several original contributions in MRI segmentation methods correlated with clinical findings.[17][18][19] She also modelled the simulation of Virtual Ballerinas where their hip cartilage deformations can be visualized while dancing.[20][17] She further demonstrates see-through knee articulations of real soccer players.[21] Since 2008, she has started at MIRALab, University of Geneva, a research with the humanoid robot EVA and demonstrated a first model of a realistic robot showing emotions and having a memory model.[22] She has worked on the social autonomous robot Nadine,[23][24] modeled in her image, that is able to speak, recognize people and gestures, express mood and emotions, and remember actions.[25] Nadine has been shown at the ArtScience Museum, in the exhibition HUMAN+: The Future of our Species, in Singapore, which has attracted more than 100 000 visitors.[26][27]

Honors and awards

Honorary degrees
In 2009, she was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa in Natural sciences from Leibniz University Hannover (2009).[28][failed verification]
In 2010, Thalmann was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa.[29]
In July 1987, Thalmann was named “Woman of the Year” by École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal for early original contribution in computer graphics in Montreal (1987).[30][31]
In 2007, her film “High Fashion in Equations” has won the CGI 2007 Best International Scientific Video award and was shown at the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre.[32][33]
In 2012, she has been a co-recipient of the Career Achievement Award by the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society in Toronto.[34]
In 2012, she received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award in Germany.[35][36]
Thalmann selected as a Pioneer in Information Technology at the Heinz Nixdorf Computer Museum’s Electronic Wall of Fame in Germany.[37]

Magnenat-Thalmann, Nadia; Thalmann, Daniel (1987). “The Direction of Synthetic Actors in the Film Rendez-Vous a Montreal”. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. 7 (12): 9–19. doi:10.1109/MCG.1987.276934. ISSN 1558-1756. S2CID 12591680.
Magnenat-Thalmann, N.; Primeau, E.; Thalmann, D. (March 1, 1988). “Abstract muscle action procedures for human face animation”. The Visual Computer. 3 (5): 290–297. doi:10.1007/BF01914864. ISSN 1432-2315. S2CID 15791501.
Magnenat-Thalmann, N.; Laperrière, R.; Thalmann, D. (December 1, 1989). “Joint-dependent local deformations for hand animation and object grasping”. Proceedings on Graphics Interface ’88. CAN: Canadian Information Processing Society: 26–33.
Kalra, Prem; Mangili, Angelo; Thalmann, Nadia Magnenat; Thalmann, Daniel (1992). “Simulation of Facial Muscle Actions Based on Rational Free Form Deformations”. Computer Graphics Forum. 11 (3): 59–69. doi:10.1111/1467-8659.1130059. ISSN 1467-8659. S2CID 8727599.
Seo, Hyewon; Thalmann, N.M. (2000). “LoD management on animating face models”. Proceedings IEEE Virtual Reality 2000 (Cat. No.00CB37048). pp. 161–168. doi:10.1109/VR.2000.840494. ISBN 0-7695-0478-7. S2CID 1426606.
Carignan, Michel; Yang, Ying; Thalmann, Nadia Magnenat; Thalmann, Daniel (July 1, 1992). “Dressing animated synthetic actors with complex deformable clothes”. Proceedings of the 19th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques. SIGGRAPH ’92. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 99–104. doi:10.1145/133994.134017. ISBN 978-0-89791-479-6. S2CID 7379736.
Volino, Pascal; Courchesne, Martin; Magnenat Thalmann, Nadia (1995). “Versatile and efficient techniques for simulating cloth and other deformable objects”. Proceedings of the 22nd annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques – SIGGRAPH ’95. Not Known: ACM Press. pp. 137–144. doi:10.1145/218380.218432. ISBN 978-0-89791-701-8. S2CID 379810.


  1. ^ European Research Projects
  2. ^ “The Visual Computer”Springer. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  3. ^ “Computer Animation & Virtual Worlds”Wiley.com. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  4. ^ N. Magnenat Thalmann, A New Computer Program for Generating Three-Dimensional Plots of Electronic Densities and Related Contour Levels, Chimia, Swiss Chemical Society, vol. 31, no. 9, pp.361-362, 1977
  5. ^ N. Magnenat Thalmann and J. Weber, LCAO Xα calculation of the ionization energies of small molecules, Chemical Physics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 47, no. 3, 1977
  6. ^ Dabby, Victor (June 16, 1987). “And computer creates Marilyn”. The Ottawa Citizen. p. C6.
  7. ^ “Marilyn, Bogie star one more time”. The Gazette. Montreal. May 21, 1987.
  8. ^ Culture et Société, Montreal, May 21, 1987[full citation needed]
  9. ^ Talbot, Paul-Henri (May 23, 1987). “Pour toute la famille”. La Presse. Montreal.
  10. ^ “Elle met Marilyn sur ordinateur!”. La Suisse. Geneva. September 24, 1987. p. 10.
  11. ^ Sherman, David (June 1, 1987). “Film stars of the computer screen”. Playback.
  12. ^ Os truques da vanguarda, Wednesday, November 25, 1987
  13. ^ Het Vrije Volk, Saturday, June 27, 1987
  14. ^ Eurographics, Holland, November, 1987
  15. ^ World Premiere at the Place des Arts
  16. ^ van der Plas, Wim (1987). “Animatie in Canada serieuze onderneming”. CADCAM (in Dutch). p. 27.
  17. Jump up to:a b J. Schmid, J. Kim and N. Magnenat Thalmann, Extreme Leg Motion Analysis of Professional Ballet Dancers via MRI Segmentation of Multiple Leg Postures, International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery (IF: 1.659), Springer, vol. 6, no.1, pp.45-57, May 2010
  18. ^ B. Gilles and N. Magnenat Thalmann, Musculoskeletal MRI Segmentation Using Multi-resolution Simplex Meshes with Medial Representations, Medical Image Analysis (IF: 3.681), Elsevier, vol.14, pp.291-302, June 2010
  19. ^ B. Gilles, F. Kolo-Christophe, N. Magnenat Thalmann, C. Becker, S. Duc, J. Menetrey and P. Hoffmeyer, MRI-based Assessment of Hip Joint Translations, Journal of Biomechanics (IF: 2.496), vol. 42, no.9, pp.1201-1205, June 19, 2009
  20. ^ Charbonnier, Caecilia; Kolo, Frank C.; Duthon, Victoria B.; Magnenat-Thalmann, Nadia; Becker, Christoph D.; Hoffmeyer, Pierre; Menetrey, Jacques (2011). “Assessment of Congruence and Impingement of the Hip Joint in Professional Ballet Dancers”The American Journal of Sports Medicine39 (3): 557–566. doi:10.1177/0363546510386002PMID 21160017S2CID 46725738.
  21. ^ A. Chincisan, K. Tecante, M. Becker, N. Magnenat Thalmann, C. Hurschler, H.F. Choi, A computational approach to calculate personalized pennation angle based on MRI: effect on motion analysis, Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery (IF: 1.66), DOI: 10.1007/s11548-015-1251-9, July 2015
  22. ^ Kasap, Zerrin; Magnenat-Thalmann, Nadia (2012). “Building long-term relationships with virtual and robotic characters: The role of remembering”The Visual Computer28: 87–97. doi:10.1007/s00371-011-0630-7S2CID 17756628.
  23. ^ Nadine
  24. ^ Media coverage on Nadine
  25. ^ J. Zhang J, N. Magnenat Thalmann and J. Zheng, Combining Memory and Emotion With Dialog on Social Companion: A Review, Proceedings of the ACM 29th International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA 2016), pp. 1-9, Geneva, Switzerland, May 23–25, 2016
  26. ^ Nadine at the Singapore ArtScience Museum
  27. ^ Media coverage on Nadine exhibition
  28. ^ “Ehrendoktoren der Fakultäten”Leibniz Universität Hannover (in German). Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  29. ^ “Honorary Doctorate of the University of Ottawa”. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  30. ^ “Femme de l’année, catégorie scientifique”. HÉCHANGES – Journal de l’École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal3 (6). 1987.
  31. ^ “Un film québécois entièrement réalisé par ordinateur”. Journal des Ingénieurs. Québec. 1987.
  32. ^ CGI 2007 Best International Scientific Video award
  33. ^ SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre 2007
  34. ^ “Nadia Magnenat Thalmann”Graphics Interface. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  35. ^ Kaune, Juliane (February 5, 2014). “Die Vision vom durchsichtigen Menschen”HAZ – Hannoversche Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  36. ^ “DER TAG”Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). June 5, 2012. p. 22. ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  37. ^ “HNF – Pioniere der digitalen Welt”www.hnf.de (in German). Retrieved December 15, 2021.

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