Meet EECS graduate student Carrie Cai


EECS graduate student Carrie Cai.

I am a second year graduate student working on speech and language interfaces with Stephanie Seneff in the Spoken Language Systems group and Rob Miller in the User Interface Design group.

Where are you from and where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

Born and raised in California (Bay Area), I did my undergrad and masters at Stanford, where I majored in the social sciences (including a mix of linguistics, psychology and education) because I was interested in human cognition and the science of language acquisition. It was only after graduating that I discovered computer science and became addicted not only to the creative process that it fosters, but also to its vast applications to the cognitive sciences and linguistics. I was initially shy about leaving California but am so glad I took the leap to Boston!  

What is your research about and why are you excited about your project?

My goal is to improve user interfaces for language learners, so my research interests include speech-based human computer interaction, educational games, and language-inspired online interactions. I relish the fact that my work must necessarily interface with real users, and I also find what I'm doing to be personally fulfilling, as someone who grew up in a bilingual (Chinese/English) environment and whose favorite high school subject was French. In particular, working at the intersection of user interface design and speech/natural language processing has been fascinating. I get to learn and think about how to put cutting-edge speech recognition to use in systems that will ultimately impact human learners. 

What do you like to do outside of research and academics?

I love social dancing  (swing, waltz, polka, etc.), so I often dance and hang out at the Wednesday night swing events at the student center. I am helping plan orientation this year with the EECS Graduate Student Association, and will also be co-organizing the presidential fellows / distinguished lecture series at the Sidney Pacific graduate dorm. Once in a while, when I'm in the mood, I like to play some piano improv on dorm pianos. 

What are your career goals and future plans?

I am just starting my PhD so have no definite plans yet, but I hope to do something in the future that will improve human-computer interactions, hopefully in a linguistic or educational capacity.


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