Headshot Credit: Jen Shook / NGS

Headshot Credit: Jen Shook / NGS

Hi! I'm Antonella. I'm a PhD student at the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego, and a National Geographic Explorer.

I'm interested in enabling robots to explore extreme environments, especially underwater environments, with the goal of better understanding and protecting our planet. In particular, I work on SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) for underwater multi-robot systems. I'm also interested in disaster/search-and-rescue robots, bio-inspired robotics, and soft robotics. I'm advised by Henrik Christensen at the UCSD Contextual Robotics Institute, and co-advised by Jules Jaffe of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

I am grateful to be a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and to receive additional support through a Sloan Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Minority PhD program.

Curriculum Vitae • Technical Resume

Contact Me

If you'd like to get in touch, send me an email at awilby@eng.ucsd.edu.

You can find out more about my work on my Google Scholar Page or on my NatGeo Explorers Bio. You can also read some of my updates from the field on the National Geographic Blog

Photography & Science Communication

In addition to my technical work, I am an avid photographer, and hope to use photography and other visual media to communicate the importance of science and conservation to a broad audience. You can see some samples of my photographic work on my photography page. More recent photos of my fieldwork and adventures are on my Instagram


When I'm not in the lab, I'm on an outdoor adventure, camera in hand. I love being on a mountain, under the sea, or anywhere else surrounded by nature. Among many other activities, I enjoy backpacking, rock climbing, SCUBA and freediving, and bicycle touring. On the rare occasions when I am not in the lab or in the field, I also enjoy cooking, playing the cello, and attempting to restore a classic Volkswagen bus.