Despite our base in the Pittsburgh main campus of Carnegie Mellon University, our lab involves personnel and volunteers who are based not only in the United States, but also from the local communities where we work in.
Matthew Kam is an Assistant Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His research investigates the theory, design and in-situ use of technologies -- broadly defined -- by underserved communities in learning contexts throughout the world, in the service of improving the lives of the poor. His research has been featured in the international press, ABC News and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television documentary. Previously, with the support of a fellowship from the United Nations and University of California, Berkeley, Matthew participated as a third-party evaluator of a microfinance transaction technology in Uganda spearheaded by Hewlett-Packard. As a former administrator, he served on a multi-million, 18-month project in the Singapore Armed Forces, where he helped to manage its finances and organize the logistics for 200,000 personnel. Matthew's research draws on his multidisciplinary background: a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a minor in Education, B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and B.A. in Economics, all from the University of California, Berkeley.
Growing up as a teenager, Matthew's ambition was to become an outstanding development economist who could address problems related to global poverty. This interest led him to pursue an undergraduate degree in economics and to perform research on the educational and socioeconomic benefits of computer donations to low-income households in Singapore and the US. He concurrently pursued a second undergraduate degree in computer science out of his childhood hobby in computer programming and robotics. After realizing how his interests in engineering and the social and behavioral sciences could be integrated in human-centered computing, he went on to a doctoral program in computer science, where he built a client-server wireless handheld tablet learning system as his first research project. As he proceeded to work on educational technologies for underserved communities during graduate school, he obtained the epiphany that he is trying to solve education problems, not technical computer science problems. Realizing that he needed to learn from the education researchers, he crossed over to the opposite side of campus to obtain formal training in education through graduate coursework at the Graduate School of Education in literacy theory, the psychology of reading and second language acquisition. Matthew's intellectual journey continues to proceed in this problem-driven direction, whereby he acquires knowledge across disciplinary boundaries to address inherently complex, multidisciplinary problems in the real world.
Florian Metze is research faculty at Carnegie Mellon’s Language Technologies Institute, working on fundamental problems in speech recognition and understanding, user interfaces and related areas. He is also the associate director of the InterACT center at Carnegie Mellon. He joined CMU after a three year stay at Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (T-Labs) in Berlin, Germany, where he worked on a wide range of problems in speech recognition, user interfaces, semantic computing, and social search. He holds a PhD from Universität Karlsruhe, for a thesis on “Articulatory features for conversational speech recognition”. He continues to collaborate with these institutions, as well as with other international research groups. His main research focus is on techniques for acoustic modeling for speech recognition and multimedia analysis, with a focus on discriminative techniques for sub-phonetic and multi-lingual modeling. He also works on the extraction of paralinguistic information (emotions, personality, etc.) from speech, with a goal of using this information in user interfaces, or for data mining. He is one of the authors and maintainers of the Ibis decoder and the Janus speech recognition toolkit. His research resulted in several patents and contributed to T-Mobile and T-Labs winning a “Voice Award” for innovative solutions three years in a row. He authored and co-authored more than 70 refereed publications to date.
Pooja Reddy is a research scientist at the American Institutes for Research. In her current position, she is responsible for conducting research on the literacy development of multilingual children in low-income communities of the developing world; and providing technical assistance for literacy program design and implementation in diverse multilingual contexts including India, Nicaragua, Egypt, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Previously, she has worked as a Research Associate at the Human Development Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, where she helped design an English literacy curriculum for educational games on mobile phones for children in rural India. She has taught English as a Foreign Language to school-age children in Japan and in urban poor slum communities in India, as well as Academic English Reading and Writing and Japanese as a Foreign Language to undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. Pooja received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Second Language Acquisition from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.A. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Irvine.
Geeta Shroff has a longstanding interest in innovating technology solutions for unemployed and low-income populations. When working on her dual undergraduate degrees (with honors) in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Geeta published and presented research in embedded and mobile assistive systems for elderly, blind, and chronically ill communities, as well as educational technologies for developing and developed regions. Subsequently, she completed a Master's in Computer Science at CMU as a US National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, where her thesis entailed field research to investigate the opportunities for technology to impact gender equality in the developing world. Geeta's leadership experience includes co-founding the People’s Labs social venture, and was CTO of its spin-off, CareerImp, both of which aim to improve employment prospects for low-wage earners in the US. She also founded and was president of the Association for Computing Machinery chapter at CMU. In addition to a Graduating Class Student Leadership award from CMU, she has received competitive awards and grants from Google, Yahoo!, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, as well as completed industry internships and research projects with General Motors, Intel, AMD, and IBM.
Girija Uday Kumar is the curriculum developer for the lab's digital content that is piloted in her home state of Andhra Pradesh. For more than two decades, she has worked in both private and government schools in India, first as a teacher and later as principal. Girija has taught English, General Science and Biology at the primary, middle and high school levels in line with both the Central and State syllabi. An urge to improve the quality of education for underprivileged children led her to subsequently work for Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, where Girija was part of a team that developed curriculum for teaching Telugu, Mathematics and English to children in grades 2 to 5. She next joined Byrraju Foundation, where she designed Biology lessons that are broadcasted over Mana TV, a government channel for education delivery, to impact students in over 10,000 government high schools throughout Andhra Pradesh. Girija also regularly conducts teacher training workshops and mentors young teachers in local schools in Andhra Pradesh. Girija holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Biological Sciences from the Regional Institute of Education at Mysore University, and a M.A. in English Literature from Osmania University.
Indrani Vedula serves as the local project manager based in India.
She has lived, studied and worked in France, India, the Middle East, USA
and UK. After graduating from Engineering school in India, Indrani
worked for a year with HCL COMNET on networking solutions for distance
learning programs across the state of Maharashtra, India. Subsequently,
Master’s program, her interest in technology and education steered her to work on a research project to build a prototype for collaborative learning using inexpensive mobile handheld technology in classrooms, which she presented in a peer-reviewed paper at the International Conference for Advanced Learning Technologies. Indrani’s professional experience spans the IT advisory and Project Management consulting for multinationals; her areas of expertise are IT Cost Strategy optimization and Business Process management. While working in Ernst & Young’s New York City office, she led Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives for 4 years. She also volunteers actively in non-profit organizations that aim to improve education for disadvantaged children in India, such as Asha, CRY and Pratham. Her academic credentials include an M.S. in Information Systems from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and B.S. in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering. Indrani speaks English and 5 Indian languages fluently, holds a basic proficiency in French, and is currently studying Spanish.
Kelechi Anyadiegwu is a Masters student at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Her interests include technology for emerging markets, user experience design and social media. Her passions include involving youths in technological discourse in an effort to bridge the digital divide. She feels that youths can serve as agents of change, and that information and communication technologies, when leveraged appropriately, can and will empower youths. Originally from Nigeria, Kelechi has experience working with youths of African diaspora refugee communities and rural communities in Africa. Currently, she is working with youths in underserved communities in Pittsburgh. She hopes that with the culmination of social media, digital tools and her knowledge of user experience design methods, she can aid non-profits that look to provide technological resources in underserved communities.
Anuj Kumar is a PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His specific interests include mobile interfaces, speech recognition algorithms and applications, education/learning technology, machine learning and its applications in HCI, and novel input and interaction techniques. His current research focuses on using speech recognition on smartphones to improve reading skills of early-age, second language learners, both in the United States and the developing world. He has over four years of experience at developing and deploying mobile interfaces, and has two full papers at ACM CHI nominated for best paper awards. His research has also been featured in the international media, including ABC News and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television documentary. When he was an engineering undergraduate at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology in India, he led his team to win three international competitions organized by Red Hat, Microsoft and IBM respectively. For these competitions, his teams designed end-to-end technological solutions that target pressing social problems such as sustainability, the democratization of content and caste discrimination in rural communities.
Gajendra Agrawal, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2011 to present
Shilpan Bhagat, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2012, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2010 to present
Malav Bhavsar, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2012, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Spring 2010 to present
Niyati Gupta, Bachelor of Design 2013, Indian Institute of Technology at Guwahati (India) - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Siddharth Kothari, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2010 to present
Ankita Mehta, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Devanshi Mehta, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Chandra Patel, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Vishrut Patel, B.Tech. in Information and Communication Technology 2013, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (India) - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Luna Ruan, B.S. in Computer Science 2015, Carnegie Mellon University - involved from Summer 2012 to present
Group photo of the lab members, including several participants from our Hyderabad winter school with 130 undergraduates from universities across India