press release
Published: 07 June 2018

PhD student wins Russell Partnership award for robotic restaurant research

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management PhD student Aarni Tuomi at the University of Surrey has won the prominent Russell Partnership Technology award.


A robot chef is holding kitchen utensils
Credit: Getty

The unique award was sponsored by The Russell Partnership, the UK’s leading collection of Food and Technology Consultants. Peter Russell heads the Russell Partnership Technology team and presented Aarni with his award at the Council for Hospitality Management Education (CHME) Conference at Bournemouth University in May.

Aarni's winning research proposal fought off strong competition from other PhD students and focuses on applying service design to study robotised restaurants. As part of his research Aarni plans to work with restaurants across the UK, Japan and Finland to study how automation will change (and is already changing) service encounters, specifically focusing on the roles of service employees. Aarni plans to apply service design methods to understand which parts of food service should or shouldn't be robotised, collaborate with others to understand how best to do this, and finally test some of the novel service concepts in practice.

Aarni Tuomi
Aarni Tuomi

Aarni said: “I'm extremely honoured to have received this award. As a first year student recognition like this gives encouragement and reassures me of my works potential usefulness for hospitality practice.”

The purpose of the award is to support doctoral students attending conferences and Aarni’s registration, travel, and accommodation were all fully funded. Aarni’s work’s was selected for its topicality, industry relevance, and multicultural approach. The digital topics from Aarni’s research also form part of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s key digital research strategies.

Dr Iis Tussyadiah, Reader in Hospitality and Digital Experience at the University of Surrey, said: “The award demonstrates the relevance of Aarni's research for the hospitality industry and is testament to the high quality PhD research in our school. I'm extremely proud of Aarni.”

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