UNCC Software and Information Systems
I am a native of a small twin island state called Trinidad and Tobago, which is located in the Caribbean. I was born on the island of Trinidad, where I spent my childhood and teen years. I migrated to the United States in 1991 and became a citizen in 2000. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University in 1995, where I majored in Mathematics and minored in Computer Science. I received my Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees from Auburn University in 2003 and 2006 respectfully. I am currently a Teaching Professor in the Department of Software and Information Systems at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. My research interests include Broadening Participaion in CS, Equitable Access to computing, Human Centered Computing (HCC), Advanced Learning Technologies, Virtual Agents and Speech Technologies.
My current research focusses on broadening participation in computing with a focus on Black students and addressing the structural challenges that are unique to them and may be best understood by others who have faced those challenges created by their intersectional identities. These inequities faced by primarily Black students in computing are structural and psychological. These barriers may include Threats to Belonging, “hidden curriculum”, capital inequities (social and economic) and Cultural/social relevance of research. As a researcher/academic who is also Black in computing, I believe that I am uniquely positioned to cultivate an inclusive environment for Black students, since our lived experiences reflect the same barriers. Mitigating issues of hidden curriculum will aid in the reduction of threats to belonging faced by Black students, potentially increasing their likelihood of persisting in the field of computing and going on to pursue culturally and socially relevant research to them and their communities and will provide transferrable interventions applicable to other underrepresented groups in computing. With respect to education, I am working on providing equitable access to computing. Initial work involves the development and implementation of a course that will serve as bridge to CS 1 for incoming freshmen with no programming experience. A course is currently be offered during the mini-Fall semester Pilot program at UNCC. Additionally, my research also includes virtual humans, advanced learning technologies and speech user interfaces. Virtual humans have been developed for use in many capacities. Some include using virtual humans as guides, tutors, patients, receptionists, game controllers and educators. My vision entails utilizing virtual humans in practically any scenario where human – human interaction is the prime option but is not possible. To that goal, I investigate human–virtual human interactions and the development of realistic, believable, embodied, virtual human agents in emotional, educational, commercial and/or social situations. My research projects all include to some level advanced learning technologies. I am interested in tailoring learning environments to meet the user’s personalized needs while still being accessible and available to the larger group. Especially in very large classrooms, I am excited about providing personalized instruction to the students, while motivating them and providing an enjoyable interaction. Additional benefits to my research interests revolve around their culturally and socially relevant natures, which has been shown to attract minority students which contributes to the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups.
AVARI (Animated Virtual Agent Retrieving Information)
Avari was developed at an REU program during summer '07. She answers general questions about the computer scientist faculty at UNCC. We are currently investigating the user interactions with Avari.
iTech (Interactive Technical Assistant)
iTech uses an animated agent to provide a more natural medium for manuals. iTech accepts natural questions about the vi editor and displays the solutions. iTech uses a new methodology for conversational question answering called Answers First (A1).
The Dr. C.H.E.S.T.R. Show
Dr. Chestr (Computerized Host Encouraging Students To Review) is the current summer REU project. Dr. Chestr is a virtual game show host. The topic for the game show is based on the introductory course to C++ at UNCC.
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Department of Software and Information Systems
9201 University City Boulevard Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-7988 (Office)