PEOPLE

Professor

Justine_Cassell

Justine Cassell

Justine Cassell (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Associate Dean of the School of Computer Science for Technology Strategy and Impact at Carnegie Mellon University, Co-Director of the Simon Initiative, and until recently was Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science. Cassell comes to CMU from Northwestern, where she was the founding director of the Center for Technology and Social Behavior joint PhD in Communication and Computer Science, and of the Center for Technology and Social Behavior. Before Northwestern, Cassell was a tenured faculty member at the MIT Media Lab, where she headed the Gesture and Narrative Language research group. Cassell’s research focuses on understanding natural forms of communication, and then creating technological tools for those forms of communication and linguistic expression to flourish in the digital world. In particular, she is credited with developing the Embodied Conversational Agent, a virtual human capable of interacting with humans using both language and nonverbal behavior. More recently Cassell has investigated the role that the ECA can play in children’s lives, as a part of a Story Listening System, an interactive support for learning language and literacy skills.

More information is available on Justine’s website.

Postdocs

Yoichi Matsuyama
Yoichi Matsuyama

Yoichi Matsuyama

Yoichi Matsuyama is a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and Language Technologies Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. His research interest lies in computational models of human conversations, which combine artificial intelligence, cognitive science and human-computer/robot interaction. At the ArticuLab, he is leading the SARA (Socially Aware Robot Assistant), the Yahoo! – CMU InMind, and the RAPT (Rapport-Alignment Peer Tutor) projects. His Ph.D dissertation project was the SCHEMA, a multiparty conversation facilitation robot, specifically its computational models of facilitation strategies and language generation, as well as its robotic platform development. Prior to CMU, he was a researcher at the Perceptual Computing Group, Waseda University in Tokyo. He received B.A. in cognitive psychology and media studies, M.E. and Ph.D in computer science from Waseda University in 2005, 2008 and 2015 respectively. He was a visiting researcher at the iCub Facility, Italian Institute of Technology, also a committee member of ACM SIGGRAPH Asia.

Zhen Bai
Zhen Bai

Zhen Bai

Zhen Bai is a post-doctoral fellow at the ArticuLab. She leads the Sensing Curiosity in Play and Responding (SCIPR) project, which focuses on exploring the design space of playful learning environments that foster curiosity, exploration and self-efficacy for science education. Zhen is passionate to design innovative interfaces that augment our cognitive, emotional and social experiences in a playful and accessible way. Her research interests include augmented reality, tangible interfaces, design for children, developmental psychology, education, and computer-supported collaborative work. She received a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Beijing University of Technology in 2006, M.Eng. in Software Engineering from Peking University in 2009, and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Graphics & Interaction Group at the University of Cambridge in 2015. Her Ph.D. research focused on designing augmented and tangible interfaces that support symbolic play for young children with and without autism spectrum condition.

Florian Pecune
Florian Pecune

Florian Pecune

Florian Pecune is a post-doctoral fellow at the Articulab, working on SARA and Yahoo! – inMind projects, both of which focus on building a socially-aware personal assistant. He is mainly interested in designing embodied conversational agents able to build and maintain long-term relationships with humans by adapting their behavior according to the context of the interaction. Prior to the Articulab, he earned a Master`s degree in Cognition and Engineering from Paris 8 University and received a Ph.D in computer science from Telecom Paristech. His Ph.D research focused on building a decision-making model based on both social and task-oriented concerns. In his spare time, he loves to play and watch soccer or any kind of sports. If he is not in his lab or on a soccer field, he is probably playing some board or video games with friends.

Ph.D Students

Samantha Finkelstein
Samantha Finkelstein

Samantha Finkelstein

Samantha is a doctoral student in human-computer interaction who is interested in education, collaborative learning, rapport, and virtual agents. She is interested in studying how real children interact, build relationships, and learn with each other, and how we can design pedagogical virtual peers who can collaborate with and support human children in learning. Samantha is involved with the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER) at Carnegie Mellon, as well as the computer science outreach group Women@SCS. When she’s not researching (what?) she’s probably out swing dancing, playing social board games, or crafting magnetic poetry.

Michael Madaio
Michael Madaio

Michael Madaio

Michael is currently a PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU, focusing on the learning sciences, and is a member of the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research. He is primarily interested in the ways that technology mediates learning interactions between students, and how a more robust understanding of the dynamics of student collaboration can lead to a more effective design of learning technologies. Prior to the PhD, he completed a Masters of Science in Digital Media at Georgia Tech, focusing on educational technologies, where he was advised by Dr. Ian Bogost. While at Georgia Tech, he conducted research at the Center for 21st Century Universities on faculty usage of educational technology. Before that, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Masters of Education and a Bachelors of Arts in English Language and Literature, and taught English at a public high school in Maryland for several years.

Master Students

Vasu Sharma
Vasu Sharma

Vasu Sharma

Vasu is presently pursuing Masters in Language Technologies at the School of Computer Science at CMU. He’s working on the SARA and the Yahoo! InMind projects at the ArticuLab which focus on building a socially aware robotics assistant. His primary focus is on trying to combine the user’s visual, vocal and verbal cues to better gauge the ‘rapport’ between the user and the conversational agent and using it to enable the agent to become socially more aware to the user’s emotional needs. His research interests include Multi Modal Machine Learning and applications of Deep Learning Techniques to Natural Language Representation, Understanding and Generation. Prior to joining CMU, he completed his Bachelors in Computer Science degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. In his spare time you may find him playing some sports with friends, swimming or finding his peace of mind by churning out some poetry.

Samuel Maskell
Samuel Maskell

Samuel Maskell

Sam is a Master’s of Language Technologies student at CMU and is working on the SARA and Yahoo! – inMind projects at the Articulab. He is interested in studying new and innovative ways that machine learning techniques can be used to better understand and engage with users in order to improve the user experience. Prior to joining the Articulab, he earned a Bachelor of Software Engineering at the University of Victoria and was a Senior Android Engineer at Twitter. In his spare time, he plays guitar & bass and he is a budding cinephile.

Visiting Scholar

Lab Manager

Lauren Simmons
Lauren Simmons

Lauren Simmons

Lauren Simmons is the lab manager of the ArticuLab. She is interested in exploring how novel, cross-disciplinary technologies and virtual learning environments can be used to broaden student participation and improve learning outcomes. Prior to joining the ArticuLab, Lauren was a research assistant at the RAND Corporation, Philadelphia Folklore Project, and most recently at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied non-cognitive factors in student engagement. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with minors in Arabic, Social Welfare Advocacy, and Psychology from Indiana University—Bloomington in 2014. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, travelling, and amateur beekeeping.

Staff

David Slebodnick
David Slebodnick

David Slebodnick

David graduated the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in Media Arts and Animation.After a few animating and illustrating jobs in educational games, he started with the Articulab in January 2013 to work on the Alex project. In his leisure time he enjoys anything from outdoor activities to drawing and painting.

Graduate Research Assistants

John Choi
John Choi

John Choi

A recent graduate of the BCSA Computer Science and Arts student and Innovation Scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, John is an artist, engineer, and entrepreneur all in one. Having over 8 years experience developing computer simulations and 4 years experience building robots, John knows what it takes to develop innovative technology projects either independently or as a team.

Robert Huerbin
Robert Huerbin

Robert Huerbin

Robbie is the lead research assistant at the ArticuLab, where he primarily works on data collection and analysis for the RAPT project, and also assisting interns on all of the lab’s projects as needed. He is interested in research related to rapport, social anxiety, and autism, as well having interest in applying the psychology field of study to improve the criminal justice system. He recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Japanese and Fiction Writing. Outside of the lab, he is a webcomic artist, graphic designer, and illustrator who enjoys watching and producing animation. He also enjoys improv acting and videogames.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

  
Yuhan Tang

Yuhan Tang

Yuhan is an undergraduate student from Tsinghua University, majoring in Computer Science and Technology. He works as a summer intern in SCIPR project, mainly on the game reasoner and project architecture. Yuhan has rich experience in different areas of research, including facial expression recognition, collaborative writing, and remote FPGA platform. In his spare time, he enjoys singing, playing badminton and reading.

  
Wei Wang

Wei Wang

Wei is a junior student from Tsinghua, majoring in Computer Science and Technology. Natural Language Processing is his main research interest and he will work with the NLG module of the project SARA. He is a big fan of Marvel Studio movies, especially Iron Man and Wolverine. He loves playing football and sometimes shoots short videos with friends. Also preparing for a gala is one of his favourite things, and the photo was taken when he was the chief stage manager of the department’s gala last year.

  
Jeffrey Li

Jeffrey Li

Jeffrey is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is working as an intern on the RAPT project this fall. He hopes to apply the skills he learned in computer science during the school year as well as learn more. In his free time, he is interested in playing basketball, traveling, and photography.

  
Alexa Grazio

Alexa Grazio

Alexa Grazio is going into her third year at the University of Pittsburgh studying Linguistics and Spanish. She also studies Quechua. Alexa is very passionate about language and its applications in the world. At the ArticuLab, she is a data analyst for the ALEX project.

  
Chris Huhn

Chris Huhn

Chris isan undergraduate senior at the University of Pittsburgh working on the Alex project. He is working on his B.A.in Linguistics with a minor in French. His academic interests include translation, teaching English as a second language, language acquisition, dialectal variation of English and French, and computational linguistics.

  
Melinda Arnold

Melinda Arnold

Melinda is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Linguistics and French with a certificate in Western European Studies. She’s excited to be working on the ALEX project. Her interests include second language acquisition, language variation, French linguistics, dialectology, syntax, morphology and the study of regional variants of French. When Melinda is not in school or working in the lab she spends her free time traveling.

  
Elena Martinez

Elena Martinez

Elena is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Linguistics and Spanish. Her interests include creole languages, early language acquisition and development, bilingualism and descriptive grammar. She is very excited to have the opportunity to work on Project Alex.

  
Kun Peng

Kun Peng

Kun is a junior majoring in stats ML and cognitive science with a minor in sound design. She will be improving machine learning models for RAPT. She enjoys traveling, photography, composing classical/electronic music and translating classical Chinese poems. When she’s not committing to her hobbies she’s always checking her phone for the updates from FC Barcelona!

  
Alicia Sigmon

Alicia Sigmon

Alicia is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Linguistics and minoring in Spanish and Chinese. In her free time,she loves playing the piano, reading, painting, and drawing. During this previous spring semester,she did research on bilingualism in the University of Pittsburgh’s Linguistics Lab. She also discovered an interest in computer science through the course Introduction to Computational Linguistics. She does not know what her goal for after graduation is yet and hopes that working in the ArticuLab on the Alex project will help her discover her future goals.

  
Michelina Astle

Michelina Astle

Michelina is a senior at Chatham University with a major in Psychology, on the pre-medical track to become a child psychiatrist. Past work includes data analysis for the RAPT project in the Spring of 2016 before she shadowed in a hospital in New Zealand this past summer. She is currently working on the data analysis team of the RAPT project as CREU student. Michelina is the student director of the Chatham Scholars program and, in her free time, enjoys Magic the Gathering and reading.

  
Rishabh Chatterjee

Rishabh Chatterjee

Rishabh is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science. He loves working with numbers and is obsessed (sometimes foolishly) with finding patterns in occurrences. He is currently working on the technical implementation team in RAPT, working to build and iterate on the design of the virtual agent tutoring dialogue system. In his free time he likes to play golf, cook, and travel.

  
Alvaro Granados

Alvaro Granados

Alvaro is majoring in neuroscience with a concentration in premedical studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and he will graduate this December. For his looming graduation, my thesis entails both fascinating and challenging material. He is reading oscillations in the brain’s magnetic field to locate the supplementary motor area in UPMC patients. He seeks to spare this area from injury during surgery. His career aspiration is to be a neurosurgeon. In his free time, he enjoys reading the history of neuroscience. Working in the ArticuLab is a special opportunity for him, because he immigrated from Peru with my family, pursuing the American Dream. Thankfully, in America, he learned the joy of using my knowledge to teach others and make their lives easier.

  
Rae Lasko

Rae Lasko

Rae is a senior studying Cognitive Science and HCI. She is interested in informing ambiguous interfaces, such as voice, with knowledge gained from studying human interaction. Her work on RAPT has primarily been focused on analyzing data collected from human peer tutoring studies.

  
Caroline Wu

Caroline Wu

Caroline is a junior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Music. She is a part of the RAPT project. As a piano teacher, Caroline is very interested in advancing peer-tutoring strategies. She enjoys singing in a cappella and reading.

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