People Behind the Council of Coaches – Episode 6

In today’s episode of “The People Behind Council of Coaches”, we present the team from the University of Sorbonne

Sorbonne Université

With more than 30,000 students, 120 laboratories and 3,500 doctoral students in science and medicine, Sorbonne University is one of the leading French universities. According to the 2013 Shanghai ranking, Sorbonne University is the 1st French, 6th European and 37th university worldwide. Sorbonne University has a wide experience of EU contracts and its European affairs office, that is in charge of the EU projects at Sorbonne University, has managed so far 100 EU FP6 and 115 FP7 projects and more than 25 projects in H2020 from 2014, as coordinator or partner. Sorbonne University has also adopted the European Charter for Researchers and the code of conduct for the recruitment of Researchers. All Sorbonne University members of the project belong to the ISIR (Intelligent Systems and Robotics Institute), a research unit partnered with the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), hosting nearly 40 permanent staff members. The ISIR conducts cross-disciplinary research in complex artificial and natural dynamic systems, systems and control, and signal processing.

Catherine Pelachaud

Catherine Pelachaud (CNRS-ISIR) is a Director of Research in the laboratory ISIR, Sorbonne University. Her research interest includes embodied conversational agent, nonverbal communication (face, gaze, and gesture), expressive behaviors and socio-emotional agents.

I have been working on modeling Embodied Conversational Agent since many years. The Council of Coaches project offers to go beyond existing works in several aspects. The idea of having multiple coaches, each with its expertise and vision, offers a much more dynamic interaction and a way to analyze a situation from several perspectives. Modeling multi-party interaction brings many interesting challenges we will address within the council of coaches project when developing group of virtual coaches interacting with human users.


Fajrian Yunus

Fajrian has started his PhD research at Sorbonne University in April 2018 and is working on the generation of gesture by machine learning.

My background is computing. However, before I started my PhD, I had no idea about human computer-interface. The only thing I knew about HCI is that their labs usually have the coolest toys research equipment (system and high-performance computing people might disagree about that). However, after joining this project, I realized that HCI is a relatively down-to-earth field, with the prospect of making direct impact on human life. For instance, the Council of Coaches project is about the application of HCI on public health; the potential impact is obvious.
That being said, just like any other serious research fields, HCI also has interactions with other research fields. Nowadays machine learning is used in various fields, from finance to biology; HCI is no different. That is what my project is about: the application of machine learning on HCI. I am excited by the possibility of applying machine learning in this down-to-earth field!


Reshmashree B. Kantharaju

Reshmashree has started her PhD research at Sorbonne University in October 2017 and is working on developing a group conversation model.

Having a background in Computer science I have always been interested in working on affective computing and human-computer interaction. The Council of Coaches project provided an excellent platform to explore this aspect and I am specially interested in the interaction of the virtual coaches with the human users. My PhD research involves developing a Group Conversation model that will be capable of automatically handling conversations between multiple coaches and a human user. This project is really interesting to me since it involves development of several virtual coaches with varying personalities and domain expertise.


Donatella Simonetti

Donatella is a research engineer at Sorbonne University, involved in the Greta team that centres its research in improving communicative skills of virtual agents and learning about human behaviour and communication.

With a background in biomedical engineering and HMI I found an interest to work with an embodied conversational agent platform andalso understand how the ECAs can endorse different roles (i.e. virtual tutor, dialog companion, etcetera). I am interested in learning how this platform can be used in eHealth technology to support and enrich people’s daily lives.

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