Biography

James C. Lester is Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and founding director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). His research investigates artificial intelligence technologies to support learning in education, training, and healthcare. His current work spans intelligent game-based learning environments, multimodal learning analytics, affective computing, and computer-supported collaborative learning. The adaptive learning environments he and his colleagues create have been used by thousands of students in K-12 classrooms around the globe.

Dr. Lester founded the Center for Educational Informatics (CEI) at North Carolina State University to establish a unique interdisciplinary R&D center with the mission of developing next-generation learning technologies leveraging artificial intelligence. CEI designs adaptive learning environments for K-12 and higher education, defense and first responder training, and healthcare. With a portfolio of broadly interdisciplinary projects, CEI is housed in the NC State College of Engineering and collaborates with partner institutions and organizations across the US and internationally.

Dr. Lester 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 Research Laboratory (ARL). Additional support has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, DARPA, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (2009-12). He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1997), the North Carolina State University Outstanding Teaching Award (1998), and the Best Paper Awards at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (1997), the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (1999), the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2011), and the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (2015). His foundational work on pedagogical agents has been recognized with the IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award (2017) by the International Federation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.

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