Biography

James C. Lester is Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. His research centers on transforming education with artificial intelligence. His current work ranges from adaptive learning environments and multimodal learning analytics to intelligent game-based learning environments, computational models of interactive narrative, and affective computing. The AI-augmented learning environments he and his team create have been used by thousands of K-12 students around the globe. 

Prof. Lester is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). He is the author of more than two hundred publications, primarily in the area of AI technologies for education. His research program is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), and the Army Futures Command. Additional support has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), DARPA, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prof. Lester’s foundational work on pedagogical agents has been recognized with the IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award by the International Federation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems. He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and Best Paper Awards at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED-1997), the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI-1999), the AAAI International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE-2011), and the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (UMAP-2015). He has been recognized with the North Carolina State University Outstanding Teacher Award and has been inducted into the North Carolina State University Academy of Outstanding Teachers. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. He currently serves on the 2020 National Educational Technology Plan Technical Working Group.  
 

Research Areas

  • Advanced Learning Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents
  • Computer and Video Games
  • Graphics, Human Computer Interaction, & User Experience

Education

  • 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.

Awards

  • IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award, International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems - 2017
  • Best Paper Award, Twenty-Third Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization - 2015
  • AAAI Fellow, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence - 2014
  • Best Paper Award, Seventh AAAI International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment - 2011
  • Best Paper Award, ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces - 1999
  • Academy of Outstanding Teachers, North Carolina State University - 1998
  • Best Paper Award, Eighth World Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education - 1997
  • NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation - 1997