Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Rochester Institute of Technology
92 Lomb Memorial Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623
Lab: LBR-A220 and office: LBR-2110
Phone: +1 (585) 475-7327
Email: coagla@rit.edu
CV link: PDF

Cecilia ("Cissi") Ovesdotter Alm, Ph.D., is a faculty member in computational linguistics/language science in RIT's College of Liberal Arts and ENGL. She is director of CLaSP, the Computational Linguistics and Speech Processing Lab. Additionally, she is among the faculty of the Ph.D. Program in Computing and Information Sciences. She coordinates the Language Science initiative and is on the faculty of the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. She is affiliated with the Multidisciplinary Research Laboratory, human-centered AI lead in the Center for Human-aware AI, on the leadership team of Personalized Healthcare Technology, and a member of 3M Lab.

Cissi's research centers on linguistic and language-inclusive sensing with text, speech, and multimodal data for broad impact domains. She is the Principal Investigator of REU Site: Computational Sensing, and is subaward PI at RIT for the NIH-funded project Automated analysis of pragmatic language development in ASD. Cissi is committed to supporting and mentoring students and she engages in transdisplinary work.

Recently, Cissi co-chaired the 2018 Workshop on Human-Centered Computational Sensing at PerCom 2018. She served as a faculty co-advisor for the Student Research Workshop at ACL 2017. She held a joint tutorial at the 2015 Empirical Methods in Natural Language Understanding (EMNLP) conference.

Cissi earned her doctoral degree in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focusing on computational linguistics, in addition to a Certificate of Advanced Study in Language and Speech Processing and a Certificate of Graduate Specialization in Computational Science and Engineering. Her Master's degree in Linguistics is from the same university. Before that, she studied English and American Studies and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Vienna where she also completed coursework in translation studies. 

A passionate teacher, Cissi offers undergraduate and graduate courses. She is the advisor for the Human Language Technology & Computational Linguistics immersion and the Language Science minor/immersion. She is committed to experiential learning, diversity in and beyond the classroom, as well as internationalizing experiences that prepare students for the global context.

Besides the USA, Cissi has lived in Sweden, Great Britain, Austria, Spain, and Ecuador. She masters English, Swedish, Spanish, and German fluently. She has studied other languages, including some American Sign Language.

Cissi is married to Rubén Proaño and has three daughters (Mélida, Maya, Nuria) who are growing up in a trilingual home.

Link to CV.

Ten representative publications (an asterisk * highlights RIT students)

1. Cecilia O. Alm. 2009. Affect in Text and Speech. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag

As technology and human-computer interaction advance, there is an increased interest in affective computing. One of the current challenges in computational speech and text processing is addressing affective and expressive meaning, an area that has received fairly sparse attention in linguistics. Linguistic investigation in this area is motivated both by the need for scientific study of subjective language phenomena, and by useful applications such as expressive text-to-speech synthesis. This work makes contributions to the study of affect and language by describing a novel data resource, outlining models and challenges for exploring affect in language, applying computational methods toward this problem with included empirical results, and suggesting paths for further research. The book should be particularly valuable for readers interested in language and affect, socioemotive aspects of language, subjective language phenomena, and computational semantics.

2. Cecilia O. Alm and Reynold Bailey. 2017. Team-based, transdisciplinary, and inclusive practices for undergraduate research. IEEE 47th Annual Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference. 10.1109/FIE.2017.8190553.h

3. Saif Mohammad and Cecilia O. Alm. 2015. Computational analysis of affect and emotion in language. Tutorial at Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Lisbon, Portugal.

4. Cecilia O. Alm. 2016. Language as sensor in human-centered computing: Clinical contexts as use cases. Language & Linguistics Compass: Computational & Mathematical , 10(3): 105-119.

5. Preethi Vaidyanathan, Emily Prud'hommeaux, Jeff Pelz, and Cecilia O. Alm. 2018. SNAG: Spoken narratives and gaze dataset. In Proceedings of the Associationf or Computational Linguistics, pages 1-6, Melbourne, Australia.

6. Cecilia O. Alm. 2012. The role of affect in the computational modeling of natural language. Language & Linguistics Compass: Computational & Mathematical, 6(7): 416-430.

7. Preethi Vaidyanathan*, Jeff B. Pelz, Emily Prud'hommeaux, Cecilia O. Alm, and Anne R. Haake. 2016. Fusing eye movements and observer narratives for expert-driven image-region annotations. In Proceedings of ETRA, pages 27-34, Charleston, South Carolina. Best paper award.

8. Cecilia O. Alm, Benjamin S. Meyers*, and Emily Prud'hommeaux. 2017. An analysis and visualization tool for case study learning of linguistics concepts.. In Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, pages 13-18, Copenhagen, Denmark.

9. Vasudev Bethamcherla*, Will Paul*, Cecilia O. Alm, Reynold Bailey, Joe Geigel, and Linwei Wang. 2015. Face-speech sensor fusion for non-invasive stress detection. In Proceedings of FAAVSP, pages 196-201, Vienna, Austria.

10. Xuan Guo*, Qi Yu, Cecilia O. Alm, Cara Calvelli, Jeff B. Pelz, Pengcheng Shi, and Anne R. Haake. 2014. From spoken narratives to domain knowledge: Mining linguistic data for medical image understanding. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, 62(2): 79-90.

Dr. Alm in news


Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm, Ph.D.


Computational linguistics and speech processing lab


REU Site in Computational Sensing at Rochester Institute of Technology