Stacy Marsella, Professor of Computer and Information Science and Psychology
Marsella, a leader in the field of human-computer interaction, is opening whole new possibilities for computers to promote healthy behavior and help us learn more about how and why people act as they do.
Using a combination of psychological models and machine learning tools—including technologies pioneered by Marsella and his research partners—he is creating virtual humans that interact with people in ways that are more human than virtual.
Picking up on voice and visual cues—a hesitant reply or a downcast gaze, for example—Marsella’s virtual humans can infer the emotions of a human subject and respond with meaningful questions and comments, while using the kind of realistic facial expressions and hand gestures that are lubricants to human interaction.
Marsella and his team are making computational models of behavior easier to assess by putting them into human form. These virtual humans also have practical applications as coaches in tasks such as teaching medical students how to break bad news to patients and helping gay men avoid risky behaviors.