Postdoctoral fellow

Veronica A. Newhart, Ph.d.


  • The recent development of affordable telepresence robots provides the opportunity for virtual inclusion of students who are not able to attend school due to medical conditions. Every year, large numbers of K-12 students are not able to attend class due to illness. Extended absence from the classroom has negative and overlapping educational, social, and medical consequences as students may fall behind in instruction, feel isolated from their peers, and experience difficulties in their recovery due to loneliness and depression. Telepresence robots provide a possible means for addressing this situation. Preliminary results from case studies on the use of these robots in public school systems indicate that virtual inclusion may provide significant improvements in the educational, social, and healthcare experiences of this vulnerable population. Our national study investigates the overall effects of this innovative practice.

Fall 2012 - Present

My Research

About Dr. Newhart

Veronica Ahumada Newhart, Ph.D.


Dr. Newhart is an NIH funded postdoctoral fellow in UC Irvine's Institute for Clinical Translational Science. 


Previously, she received the UC President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship and was a UC Distinguished Public Impact Fellow.  Faculty advisors and mentors include Distinguished Professor Jacquelynne Eccles, Professor Mark Warschauer, and Bren Professor Judith Olson.


Dr. Newhart is the principal investigator on a Clinical Translational Science project that explores the use of interactive technologies (e.g., telepresence robots) to establish or augment social connectedness for improved health, academic, and social outcomes. As part of this project, she is currently conducting an on-going, national, multi-case study that explores this use of technology.


Her research encompasses strong interdisciplinary efforts between UCI's School of Medicine, School of Education, Department of Informatics, and Department of Cognitive Sciences. 


Her research interests include telepresence, child health & human development, virtual inclusion, human-computer interaction (HCI), human-robot interaction (HRI), and emerging technologies that facilitate improved learning, health, human development, and social connectedness. 

Virtual Inclusion via interactive technologies

Principal Investigator