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Justine Cassell to lead Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Carnegie Mellon University
May 24, 2010
Randal E. Bryant, dean of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, has announced the appointment of Justine Cassell as the new director of the school's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). Cassell, whose research focuses on computer systems that interact with people in human-like ways, succeeds Daniel P. Siewiorek, who will resume his research and teaching duties at the university.

Cassell, currently director of the Center for Technology & Social Behavior atNorthwestern University in Chicago, will become a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty on Aug. 1.

"I'm looking forward to joining Carnegie Mellon and, together with the faculty, staff and students, bringing HCII into the future," Cassell said.

"We are excited by the prospect of having Justine Cassell join our faculty and take on the directorship of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute," Bryant said. "We believe that she will expand the horizons of the institute while helping it continue as one of the world's outstanding centers for investigating how computers can better serve individuals and society."

Siewiorek, HCII director since 1998, will resume his duties as the Buhl Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, as a project leader for human system interaction within the Quality of Life Technology Centerand as leader for smart work technologies within the Heinz College's Center for the Future of Work.

"I want to thank Dan Siewiorek for his service to the HCII," Bryant said. "During his tenure, the institution has flourished and expanded both its research and educational programs."

Cassell holds a master's degree in literature from the Université de Besançon (France), a master's degree in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and a double Ph.D. in psychology and linguistics from the University of Chicago.

Her research interests originated in the study of the verbal and nonverbal aspects of human-to-human conversation and storytelling. Progressively she became interested in allowing computational systems to participate in these activities. This new technological focus led her to deconstruct the linguistic and nonverbal elements of conversation and storytelling in such a way as to embody machines with conversational, social and narrative intelligence so that they could interact with humans in human-like ways. Increasingly, however, her research has come to address the impact and benefits of technologies such as these on learning and communication.
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