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 have worked on the following projects:
- EMOTE (EU FP7, 2012-2015), where we are developing empathy-based robotic tutors.
- JAMES (EU FP7; 2011-2014), where we developed a robot agent that is able to interact in a socially appropriate way in multi-party, situated interactions in the bartender domain.
- 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 videos of me describing my research:
- A guest lecture from the 2009 ShanghAI Lectures series, describing the results of the JAST project.
- A short description of the JAMES project from the 2012 SICSA DemoFest.
- An invited talk given at the Idiap Research Institute in Martigny, Switzerland, describing the results of a number of the above projects.
In the 2015 Winter semester, I will be teaching two courses at Heriot-Watt University:
- Software Design (F28SD) -- with Patricia A. Vargas
- Advanced Interaction Design (F20AD/F21AD) -- with Oliver Lemon
My office is EM 1.46, and my office hours are 13:15-14:15 for general questions, and 14:15-15:15 for Advanced Interaction Design group meetings.
Here are some events that I organised last year:
- UK PlanSig Workshop, Edinburgh, 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
Here are some recent publications:
- Mary Ellen Foster, Mei Yii Lim, Amol Deshmukh, Srinivasan Janarthanam, Helen Hastie, Ruth Aylett, "Affective Feedback for a Virtual Robot in a Real-World Treasure Hunt", In Proceedings of the ICMI 2014 Workshop on Multimodal, Multi-Party, Real-World Human-Robot Interaction, Istanbul, 2014.
- Simon Keizer, Mary Ellen Foster, Zhuoran Wang, Oliver Lemon, "Machine Learning for Social Multi-Party Human-Robot Interaction", In ACM Transactions on Intelligent Interactive Systems, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 14:1-14:32, 2014.
- Simon Keizer, Mary Ellen Foster, Andre Gaschler, Manuel Giuliani, Amy Isard, Oliver Lemon, "Handling uncertain input in multi-user human-robot interaction", In Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (IEEE RO-MAN 2014), Edinburgh, Scotland, pp. 312-317, 2014.
- 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.
- Mary Ellen Foster, Manuel Giuliani, Amy Isard, "Task-Based Evaluation of Context-Sensitive Referring Expressions in Human-Robot Dialogue", In Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, vol. 29, no. 8, pp. 1018-1034, 2014.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
Anyone wanting to stalk me can probably find out all they need from my Facebook, Twitter, 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!