Team Members

Rachael E. Jack, Lab Director, Professor

Lab Director and PI of the program  ‘Computing the Face Syntax of Social Communication’ funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 759796). 

Rachael E. Jack is Professor of Computational Social Cognition in the School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Glasgow. Jack’s work 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 computational modelling. Most notably, Jack’s work 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 research has challenged the dominant view that six basic facial expressions of emotion are universal, leading to a new theoretical framework of facial expression communication that her lab 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) and 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. Jack 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.

Jack is also Associate Editor at Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,  Psychological Science, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Affective Science and is on the Editorial Boards of Emotion, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, and Behavior Research Methods. Jack  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. Jack is also Secretary of Association for Psychological Science (APS), Chair of the APS Globalization Committee, and panel member for ERC Advanced Grants.

Download CV

Google Scholar



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.


Google Scholar

Personal website

Jonas Nölle, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jonas Nölle is a postdoctoral researcher on the FaceSyntax project. He received his PhD from the Centre for Language Evolution in Edinburgh and previously studied linguistics and psychology in Berlin and Cognitive Semiotics at 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 specifically investigates how facial expressions interact with other modalities such as speech in multimodal interactions. He also co-founded the MOSAIC group at UoG that provides a transdisciplinary platform for researchers from multiple fields who are interested in human interaction and multimodal signalling.

Google Scholar

Twitter: @jonasnoelle

Laura B. Hensel, Ph.D. student

Laura B. Hensel is a recent Ph.D. graduate in the School of Psychology & Neuroscience 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 variance within facial expressions of emotions with a goal to develop a generative model of face signals for digitals agents that is perceptually, culturally, and contextually valid. 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.

Google scholar

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. 



Google Scholar

Personal Website

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.  

Dr Meng Liu, Ph.D. student (Graduated 2021)

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.

Abigail L M Webb, Postdotoral Research Associate

Abigail joined the Face Syntax Project in October 2021 until April 2022. 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. 


Google Scholar