Özge Nilay Yalçın, PhD

Özge Nilay Yalçın, PhD

Assistant Professor

SIAT, Simon Fraser University

I am an Assistant Professor at SIAT, SFU, working on Social and Affective computing. My research centers around understanding human behavior using AI principles. I draw on my interdisciplinary background of Cognitive Science, AI and Human-Computer Interaction, to develop a rigorous research methodology that allows me to build complex systems from individual components. My work balances quantitative research and applied AI methods, to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior via modeling them in theoretically grounded interactive systems. As a researcher, I focus on these issues by modeling high-level human behaviors such as empathy, personality and emotional dynamics from parameterized expressions such as bodily and facial gestures and speech. By creating biologically grounded models of these complex behaviors, my research aims to develop better interactive systems that can understand human experience and advance our understanding of human cognition by providing us means to evaluate our assumptions in a systematic and controlled environment.

My previous research focused on modeling empathic behavior in interactive virtual agents. The resulting framework, M-PATH, has been used for interacting with students during psychological evaluations as well as interactions with older adults. Following this, I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of British Columbia, to extend the applicability of my socio-emotional models and interactive agents in an online learning scenario. As side-projects, I am also working on achieving computational abstraction techniques for anonymization without losing emotional content, and continuing to collaborate on our embodied conversational agents project with my colleagues.


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Science
  • Affective Computing


  • Postdoctoral Researcher in Computer Science, 2020

    University of British Columbia

  • PhD in SIAT, 2019

    Simon Fraser University

  • MSc in Cognitive Science, 2014

    Middle East Technical University

  • BEng in Management Engineering, 2010

    Istanbul Technical University


AI Creativity

AI Creativity for Visuals and Language

Empathy in Interactive Agents

My PhD Thesis: Modeling Empathy in Interactive Agents

Affective Computing

Using AI techniques to recognize and model emotions

ECA for Elderly

Virtual Agents for Elderly

Virtual Humans

Virtual Agents for Natural Interaction and Modeling Humans

AI Generated Anonymization

AI Generated Anonymity in VR Journalism

Recent Publications

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Empathic AI Painter: A Computational Creativity System with Embodied Conversational Interaction

There is a growing recognition that artists use valuable ways to understand and workwith cognitive and perceptual mechanisms to convey …

A multi-layer artificial intelligence and sensing based affective conversational embodied agent

Building natural and conversational virtual humans is a task of formidable complexity. We believe that, especially when building agents …

Evaluating Empathy in Artificial Agents

Empathy is a complex socio-emotional behavior that results from the interaction between affective and cognitive mechanisms. Equipping …

Evaluating Levels of Emotional Contagion with an Embodied Conversational Agent

This paper presents an embodied conversational agent framework as a controlled environment to test components of empathy. We implement …

Modeling empathy: building a link between affective and cognitive processes

Computational modeling of empathy has recently become an increasingly popular way of studying human relations. It provides a way to …

A Computational Model of Empathy for Interactive Agents

Empathy has been defined in the scientific literature as the capacity to relate another’s emotional state and assigned to a broad …

M-Path: A Conversational System for the Empathic Virtual Agent

M-Path is an embodied conversational agent developed to achieve natural interaction using empathic behaviors. This paper is aimed to …

Modeling empathy in embodied conversational agents

This paper is intended to outline the PhD research that is aimed to model empathy in embodied conversational systems. Our goal is to …

Embodied Interactions with a Sufi Dhikr Ritual: Negotiating Privacy and Transmission of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Virtual Sama

“Virtual Sama” is an interactive multimedia installation that connects computationally abstracted ethnographic documentation of a …

Engagement with Artificial Intelligence through Natural Interaction Models

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems become more ubiquitous, what user experience design paradigms will be used by humans …

Virtual AI Agent for Adults with Mental Health Issues

Psychologically aware computing can aid the users by providing flexible, adaptive and human oriented interaction . Can we create …


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