wil thomason

I'm on the job market!
I'm interested in both tenure-track academic positions and full-time researcher positions in industry.

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Kavraki Lab at Rice University. I work with Professor Lydia Kavraki on combining symbolic and geometric planning. Specifically, I’m interested in improving the efficiency, robustness, and utility of robot task and motion planning (TMP), with a particular focus on making TMP under uncertainty practically useful.

Though I primarily research robot planning, I’m also interested in ML and formal methods for robotics, robotics research broadly, and programming languages. I am graciously funded by the CRA CIFellows 2021 postdoctoral fellowship.


I work on combining symbolic and geometric planning, often referred to as “integrated task and motion planning”. My work explores approaches to task and motion planning that provide high performance and robustness to action failure with lightweight domain-specific assumptions. I also research approaches to improved planning effort reuse through abstract plan representation and fusions of classical planning with modern machine learning for more efficient, automatic planning and execution.

For more about my research, please see my publication and presentation list.


Jan 2024
Sep 2023
Jul 2023
I’ve been invited to participate in the NSF-sponsored Workshop on Software Engineering for Robotic Systems at IROS 2023.
Oct 2022
I’m organizing and running the Workshop on Evaluating Motion Planning Performance at IROS 2022. Come by on Oct. 23!
Jul 2022
Jan 2022
I’ve started at the Kavraki Lab
Aug 2021
I successfully defended my PhD!
Jul 2021
I have been awarded the CRA CIFellows 2021 postdoctoral fellowship to conduct a 2-year postdoctoral appointment with Professor Lydia Kavraki
I helped to organize and run the RSS Pioneers 2021
Jul 2020
I will be helping to organize RSS Pioneers 2021 as a member of the Faculty Committee
Apr 2020
I was accepted to the 2020 RSS Pioneers workshop (33.7% acceptance rate)
Jul 2019
Jun 2019
My workshop paper with Ross Knepper, “A Flexible Sampling-Based Approach to Task and Motion Planning”, will be presented at RSS 2019 in the Robust Task and Motion Planning workshop
I passed my A Exam, presenting on “An Efficient, Flexible Sampling-Based Approach to Integrated Task and Motion Planning”. I’m now a PhD candidate
Nov 2017
Jul 2017
Apr 2017
I was awarded the NDSEG Fellowship
Mar 2017
I was awarded the NSF GRFP Fellowship
Oct 2016
Jun 2016
May 2016

Service and Outreach

  • I was a faculty chair for RSS Pioneers 2021, helping to recruit invited speakers and design the program for the workshop
  • I served as a reviewer for AURO, Black in AI (2017-2020), ICRA (2016, 2019-2023), IJCAI 2021, IJRR (2022), IROS (2017, 2022, 2023), MRS 2019, RA-L (2021-2023), RSS (2019), SIMPAR (2018), T-ASE (2020), and WAFR (2018).
  • I was a mentor for Black in AI, providing assistance and advice to my mentee on his Ph.D. program application process. (Fall 2019 - Spring 2020)
  • I helped review extended abstracts for the Black in AI workshop. (Fall 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020)
  • I taught 7th and 8th grade girls about state machines and programming at Cornell’s Expanding your Horizons conference. (Spring 2016, 2017, and 2018)


Departmental Service