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Dr. James C. Lester

Director of the Center for Educational Informatics & Distinguished Professor

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

lester AT
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James C. Lester is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he is Director of the Center for Educational Informatics. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). His research on personalized learning technologies ranges from intelligent tutoring systems and game-based learning environments 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 US and internationally.

Dr. Lester’s research centers on technology-rich learning with an emphasis on adaptive learning environments that are designed to be both effective and engaging. He is the author of more than two hundred publications, primarily in the area of artificial intelligence technologies for education. He is currently investigating spoken language tutorial dialogue systems for affect-sensitive scaffolding, pedagogical agents to support students’ interactive modeling of science phenomena, game-based learning environments for science computer science education, and narrative-centered behavior change systems for preventive adolescent healthcare.

Dr. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. He is an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, and he serves on the Steering Committee of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies and on the editorial board of Metacognition and Learning. The recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, he has been recognized with the Best Paper Awards at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, and the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization.

Research Areas

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


  • 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