Team Members

Rachael E. Jack, Lab Director, Professor

Lab Director and PI of the ERC-funded project  ‘Computing the Face Syntax of Social Communication.’ This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 759796). 

Rachael E. Jack is a Professor in the Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology/School of Psychology, University of Glasgow. Her research has produced significant advances in understanding facial expression of emotion within and across cultures using a novel interdisciplinary approach that combines psychophysics, social psychology, dynamic 3D computer graphics, and mathematical psychology. Most notably, she has revealed cultural specificities in facial expressions of emotion; that four, not six, expressive patterns are common across cultures; and that facial expressions transmit information in a hierarchical structure over time. Together, Jack’s work has challenged the dominant view that six basic facial expressions of emotion are universal, which has led to a new theoretical framework of facial expression communication that she is now transferring to digital agents to synthesize culturally sensitive social avatars and robots.

Jack’s work has featured in several high-profile scientific outlets (e.g., Annual Review of Psychology, Current Biology, Psychological Science, PNAS, TICS). She is currently funded by the European Research Council (ERC) to lead the research program Computing the Face Syntax of Social Face Signals, which will deliver a formal model of human social face signalling with transference to social robotics. She has been funded previously by the ESRC Future Research Leaders award, ESRC Open Research Area, and British Academy.

Jack is recipient of the American Psychological Association (APA) New Investigator award, the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS) Innovation award, the British Psychological Society (BPS) Spearman Medal, Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star award, and International Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE) Young Researcher Spotlight.

She is also Associate Editor at Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and on the Editorial Boards of Emotion, Affective Science, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition (and formerly Psychological Science).

Jack also serves several roles on the committees/boards for the conferences of the Society for Affective Sciences, IEEE Automatic Face & Gesture Recognition, ACM Intelligent Virtual Agents, and the Vision Science Society. She is also Chair of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Globalization Committee.

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@facesyntax

@rachaelejack


Chaona Chen, Leverhulme Research Fellow

Chaona Chen is a Leverhulme Research Fellow to lead the program  ‘Equipping artificial agents psychologically-derived dynamic facial expressions.’ She uses the method of social psychophysics to understand how facial expressions are used in daily conversation and to develop facial expressions for social robots to improve human-robot interactions. Chaona graduated from University of Glasgow with a Ph.D. titled ‘The Dual Role of Culture on Signalling and Receiving Dynamic Facial Expressions’ in 2017. Before that, she studied Psychology and Philosophy in Wuhan University in China and graduated with a B.Sc. in Psychology (First Class) in 2013.

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Jonas Nölle, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jonas Nölle is a postdoctoral researcher joining the Face Syntax project in Fall 2020 after completing his PhD at the Centre for Language Evolution in Edinburgh. Previously, he studied linguistics and psychology in Berlin, and received an MA in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University, where he was also involved in projects at the Interacting Minds Centre. His research interests include human meaning-making in interaction, social cognition and cultural evolution. In the context of Face Syntax, he will explore the roles of facial expressions in direct face-to-face communication with possible applications for virtual agents.

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Twitter: @jonasnoelle


Abigail L M Webb, Postdotoral Research Associate

Abigail will join the Face Syntax Project in October 2021. Previously, Abigail was a recipient of the Economic and Social Research Council’s postdoctoral fellowship, after completing her Ph. D. in 2018 at the University of Essex. Her research explores human facial emotion perception, with a particular focus on visual and perceptual biases during facial emotion processing, and the potential influence of image-related effects. 

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Meng Liu, Ph.D. student

A newbie of nearly everything, a fan of movies and a learner of Matlab. Also a writer in Doban.

Research Interests: Dynamic facial expressions, social robots, cross-cultural communication.


Laura B. Hensel, Ph.D. student

Laura B. Hensel is a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests lie in determining how we perceive different personality dimensions from dynamic facial expressions and to use this information to improve Human-Computer interaction. In 2017, Laura graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology (First Class) and in 2018, she completed her M.Sc. in Research Methods in Psychology (Distinction) from the University of Glasgow.


Tobias Thejll-Madsen, Ph.D. student
 

Tobias is a Ph.D student with the Centre for Doctoral Training in Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents, where he works with Prof Rachael Jack and Prof Stacy Marsella.  His research focuses on dynamic face signals involved in social judgements and how to translate this to effective artificial agents, and he has a broad interest in computational social cognition.  Previously, he graduated with an MA in Psychology and a MSc in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of Edinburgh.


Valentina Gosetti, Ph.D. student

Valentina Gosetti is  Ph.D. student at the University of Glasgow’s School of Psychology and Neuroscience. Her research interest lie in how dynamic face signals of social messages map onto theoretically distinct psychological processes (e.g., categorical versus dimensional perception). She is also interested in how group membership (gender, culture, and race) affects social face perception. Previously, she graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology (First Class) from the University of the West of Scotland and an M.Sc. in Research Methods of Psychological Science (Distinction) from the University of Glasgow.


Shaul Ashkenazi, Ph.D. student

Shaul Ashkenazi is a Ph.D. student with the Centre for Doctoral Training in Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents (SOCIAL AI CDT) at the University of Glasgow. He conducts his research under the joint supervision of Prof. Rachael Jack and Prof. Gabriel Skantze from KTH, Stockholm. His research is concerned with modelling conversational facial signals for culturally sensitive artificial agents. Shaul has a vast technological background, having worked in the hi-tech industry for more than a decade as both a software developer and an ML researcher. He earned his M.A. in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University in 2021 where, together with advisors from the University of Edinburgh, he explored recovery strategies in dialogue with senior adults. Before that, he earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science from the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo in 2014.



Previous Team Members

Thora Bjornsdottir, Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Thora worked on the ERC-funded Face Syntax research program from 2019 to 2020. Her research focuses on how social group memberships (such as social class, sexual orientation, culture, and nationality) affect social perception, investigating how our faces reflect our social identities and experiences, how our group memberships impact our perceptions of others, and how we mentally represent members of various social groups. She received her Ph.D. in 2019 from the University of Toronto, where she received her MA in Psychology in 2015. She received her BA in Psychology (magna cum laude) and German (summa cum laude) from Cornell University in 2014. Thora is now Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at Royal Holloway University, London, UK. 

 

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Tommaso Querci, Ph.D. student

His research interests lie in understanding how humans perceive emotions from facial movements and in designing facial expressions for virtual agents and social robots. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Social Psychology at University of Padova in 2017, and completed his M.Sc. in Research Methods in Psychology (Distinction) at the University of Glasgow in 2018. Tommaso is now Co-founder & CEO at IMMERGO, Virtual Reality.