Justine Cassell, the Charles M. Geschke Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of two Carnegie Mellon University faculty members to receive the honor this year.
Chien Ho, Alumni Professor of Biological Sciences, also is among the 702 newly named Fellows. The new Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and rosette pin Feb. 16 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. CMU is home to 27 AAAS Fellows, including Cassell and Ho.
Cassell was elected in the Section on Information, Computing and Communication. She was cited for distinguished contributions to the field of computer science, particularly for new computational models of human behavior and resulting technologies, including the Embodied Conversational Agent. She has been director of the HCII since 2010. Charles M. Geschke, a CMU alumnus and co-founder of Adobe Systems Inc., and his wife, Nancy, endowed the director's post earlier this year.
Cassell's research focuses on computational systems that use conversation and storytelling to enhance learning and communicative skills in humans. She developed the Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA), a virtual being capable of interacting with humans using both language and nonverbal behavior. She has since investigated the role of ECAs as a virtual peer for children, providing support for language learning, literacy, social skills and science fluency. She also has examined how this technology can be used with autistic children.
Her previous honors include the Anita Borg Institute's Women of Vision Award for significant contributions to technology. Cassell spoke about her research at the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, and is currently the chair of one of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils.
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