Victoria Preston is a doctoral candidate in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program, where she splits her time between the departments of MIT AeroAstro and WHOI Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department. She is jointly advised by Prof. Nicholas Roy in the Robust Robotics Group (MIT) and Dr. Anna Michel (WHOI) on research at the intersection of artificial intelligence, machine learning, environmental science, and numerical modeling. Prior to starting her graduate studies at MIT, Victoria earned a B.S. in Robotics from Olin College of Engineering and pursued further studies in environmental robotics under the supervision of Maarja Kruusmaa at the Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology as a Fulbright Student Scholar.
Victoria uses robots equipped with in situ instrumentation to perform targeted, long-term monitoring of natural spatiotemporal phenomena with the goal of enhancing the efficacy of observational studies, which serve as the foundation for the natural sciences. Robots are uniquely well-suited to study dynamic, meso- and microscale processes that would otherwise be impossible to resolve using available techniques. In her thesis research, she develops computationally efficient
autonomy that embeds essential scientific principles of evolving phenomena into machine learning models and decision-making frameworks. Through field work studying biogeochemical plume dynamics in estuaries with wastewater outfalls, deep sea hydrothermal vents,
and volcanic fumarole fields, Victoria enjoys the opportunity to work alongside scientists and engineers to create novel field-tested environmental sampling paradigms that shed light on natural processes while advancing robotics.