I am a Research Fellow in the Interaction Lab in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. Before this, I worked in the Robotics and Embedded Systems Group at the Technical University of Munich and in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.
My primary research interest is embodied communication. In particular, I am interested in designing, implementing, and evaluating practical systems supporting embodied interaction with human users, such as embodied conversational agents and multimodal and human-robot dialogue systems.
I am currently working on two European FP7 projects: JAMES, which has developed a robot agent that is able to interact in a socially appropriate way in multi-party, situated interactions in a bartender domain; and EMOTE, which is building empathy-based robotic tutors. If you want, you can watch me describe the JAMES project at a recent demo event.
I have previously worked on the following projects:
- ECHOES (EPSRC/ESRC TEL; 2009-2012), which developed a technology-enhanced learning environment in which both typically developing children and children with Asperger's Syndrome could explore and improve their social interaction and collaboration skills.
- JAST (EU FP6; 2006-2009), which investigated the cognitive, neural, and communicative aspects of joint action.
- COMIC (EU FP5; 2002-2005), where we developed an embodied multimodal dialogue system.
Here are some events that I'm involved in organising this year:
- UK PlanSig Workshop, Edinburgh, 29-30 January 2014
- IEEE RO-MAN 2014, Edinburgh, August 2014
- DialWatt (The 18th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue), Edinburgh, September 2014
- A workshop on Multimodal, Multi-Party, Real-World Human-Robot Interaction at ICMI 2014, Istanbul, November 2014 (details coming soon)
Here are some recent and upcoming publications:
- Mary Ellen Foster, "Validating Attention Classifiers for Multi-Party Human-Robot Interaction", In Proceedings of the HRI 2014 Workshop on Attention Models in Robotics, 2014.
- Manuel Giuliani, Ronald P. A. Petrick, Mary Ellen Foster, Andre Gaschler, Amy Isard, Maria Pateraki, Markos Sigalas, "Comparing Task-based and Socially Intelligent Behaviour in a Robot Bartender", In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI 2013), Sydney, Australia, 2013.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Andre Gaschler, Manuel Giuliani, "How Can I Help You? Comparing Engagement Classification Strategies for a Robot Bartender", In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI 2013), Sydney, Australia, 2013.
- Simon Keizer, Mary Ellen Foster, Oliver Lemon, Andre Gaschler, Manuel Giuliani, "Training and evaluation of an MDP model for social multi-user human-robot interaction", In Proceedings of the 14th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue, Metz, France, 2013.
- Ronald P. A. Petrick, Mary Ellen Foster, "Planning for Social Interaction in a Robot Bartender Domain", In Proceedings of the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2013), Special Track on Novel Applications, Rome, Italy, 2013. Novel Applications Track Best Paper.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Manuel Giuliani, Amy Isard, "Task-Based Evaluation of Context-Sensitive Referring Expressions in Human-Robot Dialogue", In Language and Cognitive Processes, 2013.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Andre Gaschler, Manuel Giuliani, Amy Isard, Maria Pateraki, Ronald P. A. Petrick, "Two People Walk Into a Bar: Dynamic Multi-Party Social Interaction with a Robot Agent", In Proceedings of the 14th ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI 2012), Santa Monica, 2012.
- Katerina Avramides, Sara Bernardini, Mary Ellen Foster, Christopher Frauenberger, Lila Kossyvaki, Marilena Mademtzi, "State-of-the-art in TEL to support social communication skill development in children with autism: a multi-disciplinary review", In International Journal of Technology-Enhanced Learning, vol. 4, no. 5-6, pp. 359-372, 2012.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Jon Oberlander, "User preferences can drive facial expressions: evaluating an embodied conversational agent in a recommender dialogue system", In User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 341-381, 2010.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Katerina Avramides, Sara Bernardini, Jingying Chen, Christopher Frauenberger, Oliver Lemon, Kaska Porayska-Pomsta, "Supporting Children's Social Communication Skills through Interactive Narratives with Virtual Characters", In Proceedings of ACM Multimedia 2010, Florence, 2010.
Anyone wanting to stalk me can probably find out all they need from my Facebook, Academia.Edu, and LinkedIn profiles and my (largely defunct) blog, so I don't think I need to write much more here. For now, I'll just include a list of links to other interesting pages on the net, along with some older pages that I created a while ago and keep around for sentimental interest.
- Ron Petrick, my husband, currently working as a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Check out our wedding website!