My research generally involves designing, building, and evaulating socially interactive technologies. A chronological list of my publications can be found on the publications page or on my Mendeley profile.


Designing Socially Contingent Gaze Behaviors for Embodied Agents

In my dissertation research, I explore how embodied agents--both virtual agents and humanlike robots--might achieve positive social and communicative outcomes through the use of gaze mechanisms. To this end, I am developing computational control models of gaze behavior that are contingent on a number of social variables, including the characteristics and behaviors of the human user and the goals of the interaction. My work explores: (1) how agents can produce gaze shifts that target specific high-level interaction outcomes, (2) how agents can effectively utilize gaze aversions in conversation, (3) how agents can adapt their gaze behaviors to the personality of their users for rehabilitation, and (4) how agents can coordinate their gaze with the user’s gaze while collaborating on a physical task.

Show more...


Rhetorical Robots: Exploring Linguistic Cues of Expertise and Persuasiveness Across Cultures

Robots hold great promise as expert informational assistants. However, if an informational robot is not perceived to be an expert, people may not trust the information that it gives them. In order to raise trust and compliance with the information that robots provide, they need to be able to effectively communicate their expertise. This research draws upon literature in psychology and linguistics to examine cues in speech that not only provide information, but also demonstrate the expertise of the speaker. I assembled these linguistic cues into a model of expert speech to enable robots to more effectively communicate with people in different contexts and across languages and cultures. Our studies revealed that users are strongly influenced by the robot's use of expert speech cues in both English and Arabic.

Show more...


Developing Engaging Behaviors for Virtual Characters Interacting with Groups of Children

In the fall of 2012 I was a lab associate intern at Disney Research Pittsburgh, where I engaged in research on multiparty turn-taking with groups of children interacting with an embodied conversational agent. Using Unity and Maya, I first implemented a game in which an on-screen virtual agent (partially autonomous, partially wizard-controlled) played a game with groups of children. I then developed verbal and nonverbal behaviors that the agent could employ to enforce better turn-taking and less overlapping speech in the children, while keeping the game fun and spontaneous. Finally, I conducted a pilot study with children recruited from the local Pittsburgh area to test the effectiveness of these new character behaviors.

Show more...


Previous research experience includes assisting on a joint project between Dr. Victoria Interrante and researchers at Medtronic on interactive heart visualizations during heart surgery, as well as work on the RoboCup Rescue Agent Simulation competition with the MinERS group at University of Minnesota.