177 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
- PhD, Northeastern University – expected graduation: 2019
- MS, Northeastern University – 2016
- BS, Sharif University of Technology – 2012
- Hometown: Tehran, Iran
- Field of Study: Human Computer Interaction
- PhD Advisor: Timothy Bickmore
Ameneh Shamekhi is a PhD candidate in the Computer Science program at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences, advised by Professor Timothy Bickmore. In 2012, Ameneh received her Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran.
Ameneh’s specific field of study is human-computer interaction, and she is a part of the Relational Agents Group at Northeastern. In this group, Ameneh and her colleagues are developing virtual agents to train, promote behavior change, and keep company with users through a long-term, emotional and interactive relationship. Ameneh is particularly investigating the use of conversational agents in group interactions and collaborative settings such as group decision making meetings. In her thesis, Ameneh seeks to explore how a conversational agent can facilitate group decision-making processes, such as enforcing the meeting structure, mediating intragroup conflicts, and reducing implicit bias with the goal of improving the overall quality of the group outcome.
What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?
The thing I love about my graduate education and research, is the fact that we can always dig deeper into any topics, and investigate the roots. Learning the scientific methods that enable us to approve the validity and reliability of any quantitative or qualitative research methods made me realize the power of science and enjoy exploring my research questions.
What are your research interests?
My research interest is to investigate different ways that computers can serve human teamwork and collaboration. Particularly, I’m interested in the use of AI and machine learning methods to enable conversational agents to detect human’s emotion and understand the natural language to facilitate group interactions.
My thesis topic is also very near and dear to my heart since it’s specifically targeting the human relationships and the social interactions in human groups as they try to make a decision collaboratively. In my thesis I seek to develop machine learning and NLP methods to facilitate group decision-making processes, by enforcing a structure to the meeting, mediating group conflicts (detecting and managing conflicts), and taking actions to reduce the participants’ implicit bias during the decision making. You can read more about my research and thesis project here.
In general, “human computer interaction” is a branch of computer science that best fits my personality and interests, and since I started my undergraduate studies in computer engineering, I had a feeling that I’d like to work on projects in which humans are closely involved, and research contains more human-related stuff. I have always had the need to feel what I am doing has a clear application in humans’ lives, and now, working on many health-related technologies fulfills my need partially.
What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?
We are exposed to tons of data in today’s world, and I believe all of that data is keeping us busy and less aware of ourselves. One of the services that technology can provide is helping people be more aware and mindful of what is really happening inside and outside of them. I’d like to use the human voice and respiration data to provide such information to improve self-awareness. This information could also be used as an input to health behavior change intervention systems.
What are your research or career goals, going forward?
I have a relatively long to do list before I graduate. I have defended my proposal in June 2018 and am currently working on my PhD thesis on automated group facilitation systems to develop and evaluate different modules of the virtual facilitator system. I plan to graduate in May 2019 and will be in the job market in spring 2019 to join one of the top-tier tech companies as a researcher/applied scientist.
Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?
I grew up in Tehran, capital of Iran, the city that I love and believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.