Dept. of Linguistics, MC-168
707 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Office: 4016B Foreign Languages Bldg.
Roxana Girju is professor of Linguistics, Computer Science affiliate, and part-time faculty member in the Organizational Intelligence and Computational Social Science and the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Well-Being Groups at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology. Dr. Girju earned a B.Sc. in Computer Science from "Politehnica" University of Bucharest (1995) and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas (2002).
Natural Language Processing / Computational Linguistics; Computational Semantics and Pragmatics (language use and perception); Conversational AI; Behavioral analytics and Affective computing; Social media
Creating systems that understand what we say and how we say it, engage in dialogue and respond in an intelligent, human-like manner (known as conversational AI or dialogue systems) has been one of the main goals of Artificial Intelligence. Intelligent conversational personal assistants (e.g., Siri, Cortana, Alexa) are not only widely used examples of such systems, but represent one of the fastest growing areas of AI, expected to affect most aspects of our daily lives in the near future.
Although a lot of progress has been made in natural language processing and understanding, building effective communication systems is far from being a solved problem. One of the main challenges is our perception of reality. Bombarded with a large amount of information, we filter out the parts that seem unimportant based on our own genetic programming, early imprints, and subsequent conditioning of our learning and experience, thus adding our judgments, inferences, biases, and preferences to every day communication.
Located at the intersection of language – technology – society, Dr. Girju’s research interests are in designing, building, and testing AI systems that use language in order to facilitate successful human–human and human–computer communication. She is also working at the interface between verbal and non-verbal communication in developing novel human language technologies.
Her main broad research questions are:
1) How can language be used to result in better understanding and communication (and how should we address various barriers to effective communication)?
2) What are our linguistic habits and how do these manifest in the way we think as well as in our speaking/listening/writing?
3) How does language facilitate or impede the satisfaction of our emotional needs? (i.e., How should we use emotions to better connect with others - humans or machines?)
Dr. Girju's most recent research projects include behavioral analytics and affective computing (aka emotions) approaches to natural language understanding with applications to health care, multi-modal interfaces, and social media.
Awards and Honors
"Best of ACII" and "Best Student Paper" awards at the International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII 2017); Best Paper Runner Up Award, IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC 2017); Engineering Council Outstanding Advising Award, College of Engineering, UIUC (2015); Celebration of Excellence Award, Computer Science Department, UIUC (2015); University of Illinois Office of the Chancellor - special nomination for the Defense Science Study Group (DSSG), Institute for Defense Analysis, 2011; 1st place, Semantic Evaluations (SemEval) task on Classification of Semantic Relations, software system competition (2007); UIUC list of teachers ranked as excellent (most years since 2007).
Additional Campus Affiliations
Professor, Computer Science
Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Professor, the Center for Social and Behavioral Science
Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Girju, C. R. (2021). Adaptive Multimodal and Multisensory Empathic Technologies for Enhanced Human Communication. In Workshop on Rethinking the Senses: A Workshop on Multisensory Embodied Experiences and Disability Interactions: The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
Girju, C. R., & Lambert, C. (Accepted/In press). Story Immersion: Toward Fiction Synesthesia for Enhanced Reader Empathy. In Uncommon Senses Conference
Girlea, C., & Girju, C. R. (2021). Decoding the Perception of Sincerity in Dialogues. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 12(1), 2-15. . https://doi.org/10.1109/TAFFC.2018.2854179
Peng, D., & Girju, C. R. (Accepted/In press). To Feel: Spaces of Sensory Experience in Natural Language Data. Affective Science.
Shi, S., Sun, Y., Zavala, J., Moore, J., & Girju, R. (2021). Modeling Clinical Empathy in Narrative Essays. In Proceedings - 2021 IEEE 15th International Conference on Semantic Computing, ICSC 2021 (pp. 215-220).  (Proceedings - 2021 IEEE 15th International Conference on Semantic Computing, ICSC 2021). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICSC50631.2021.00046