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Robot expert upgrades to TAMU

After a half-million-dollar grant from Microsoft, the invention of search-and-rescue robots used to search ground zero and 10 years of with USF, Robin Murphy is leaving for Texas A&M University.

Murphy, the director of the Center for Robot Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) and a professor of computer sciences and engineering will leave Aug. 22.

Murphy could not be reached to comment since she is in a conference, said USF Media Relations News Director Lara Wade.

Murphy wrote in her resignation letter, however, that she is “proud to have contributed to the rapid growth of the research and educational enterprise here at USF,” and that her departure is “bittersweet.”

Lawrence Hall, the department chair of computer sciences and engineering, said Murphy is leaving partly because of budget cuts and partly because she got a better offer.

“With budget cuts, it really hampered on our ability to be able to match what they were offering her,” said Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith. “They really offered her a super deal.”

At TAMU, Murphy will receive a substantial raise and more available resources, including the use of a $54 million building.

“I hope that the faculty will think of my move as creating a new partner for those multi-institutional grants and that we will continue to work together to create technology to save lives,” wrote Murphy.

Ten USF faculty have resigned in recent weeks, said Smith, including the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences John Skvoretz. Typically, five or six faculty resign each year.

“Some have cited specifically the budget situation,” Smith said. “Some have left simply because they got a great offer.”

In May, Murphy shared a $500,000 grant from Microsoft with a professor at Stanford University. The grant is to study robot and human interactions. Her search-and-rescue robots have investigated such disasters as Hurricane Katrina.