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Dr. James C. Lester

Director of CEI & Distinguished Professor

2402B EB 3
Phone: 919-515-7534
Fax: 919-513-4357

lester AT
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James C. Lester is Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on transforming education with technology-rich learning environments. Utilizing artificial intelligence, game technologies, and natural language processing, he designs, develops, and investigates next-generation learning technologies. His work on personalized learning ranges from game-based learning environments and intelligent tutoring systems to affective computing, computational models of narrative, and natural language tutorial dialogue. The adaptive learning environments he and his colleagues develop have been used by thousands of students in K-12 classrooms throughout the U.S. 

Dr. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (2009-2012). He has served as Conference Co-Chair for the International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (2008), and as Program Chair for the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (2001), the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (2004), and the International Conference on Foundations of Digital Games (2013). An inductee of the North Carolina State University Academy of Outstanding Teachers (1998), he is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1997). In 2014, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence elected him a AAAI Fellow.

Research Areas

  • Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents
  • Advanced Learning Technologies
  • Graphics and Human Computer Interaction
  • Computer and Video Games


  • Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin, 1994.
  • M.S.C.S., Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin, 1988.
  • B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa, with Highest Honors), Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin, 1986.
  • B.A. (Honors Program, with Distinction) History, Baylor University, 1983.


  • AAAI Fellow, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, 2014
  • Distinguished Professor, North Carolina State University, 2012
  • Academy of Outstanding Teachers, North Carolina State University, 1998
  • NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 1997