Biography

James C. Lester is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and 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 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.

Prof. Lester is the author of more than two hundred publications, primarily in the area of artificial intelligence technologies for education. His research program has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), DARPA, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Additional support has been provided by the SAS Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, EDUCAUSE, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Prof. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. He serves on the Steering Committee of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies and on the editorial board of Metacognition and Learning. He is currently an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education and IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing.

Prof. Lester 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. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2017, his foundational work on pedagogical agents was recognized with the IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award by the International Federation for Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent 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