Faculty & Staff

Core Faculty

Neil Heffernan
Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5569

Neil T. Heffernan enjoys doing educational data mining and running the ASSISTments system. ASSISTments helps schools teach better. It’s a web service hosted at WPI that allows teachers to assign nightly homework or daily class work. Students get instant feedback while teachers get live reports. Professor Heffernan enjoys supervising WPI students in creating ASSISTments content and features. He has  6 dozens paper in educational data mining, and 20+ papers in comparing different ways to optimize student learning. Professor Heffernan also Directs the Learning Science and Technologies ...

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Erin Ottmar
Associate Professor, Social Science & Policy Studies

Phone: +1 (508) 8316096

Erin Ottmar is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Learning Sciences at WPI. She received her BA in psychology and elementary education from the University of Richmond. After college, she spent several years teaching in Ecuador and Japan. In 2011, she received her PhD in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science from the University of Virginia. After graduate school, spent 3 years as a post-doctoral research scientist at the University of Richmond. Before coming to WPI, she was most recently a visiting research associate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at ...

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Adam Sales
Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Phone: +1 (508) 8316143

My research in applied statistics focuses on methods for causal inference using large, administrative datasets, primarily with applications in learning sciences and social sciences. I have developed and worked on methods combining machine learning with design-based analysis of randomized trials and matched observational studies, principal stratification and mediation analysis using log data from intelligent tutoring systems, and regression discontinuity designs. In my teaching and mentoring, I try to present good statistical practice as central to rigorous science, and I am ...

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Stacy Shaw
Assistant Professor, Social Science & Policy Studies

Stacy Shaw's research focuses on understanding creative thinking in mathematics, how anxiety and other threat experiences affect mathematical cognition and reasoning, as well as how classroom experiences can affect performance and learning in STEM. Recently she has become interested in the role of rest for academic achievement, burnout, and student wellbeing. She graduated with her Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA in 2020, and is an Ambassador for the Center for Open Science, Catalyst for the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences, and a part of the Better Book ...

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Jacob Whitehill
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8316370

My research interests are in applied machine learning, computer vision, data science and their applications to education, affective computing, and human behavior recognition. My work is highly interdisciplinary and frequently intersects cognitive science, psychology, and education. Before joining WPI, I was a research scientist at the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning at Harvard University. In 2012, I co-founded Emotient, a San Diego-based startup company for automatic emotion and facial expression recognition. I also love teaching and have lectured, mentored, and tutored ...

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Joseph Beck
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6156

Joseph Beck, assistant professor of Computer Science, has been at WPI since 2007. His research focuses on educational data mining, a new discipline that develops techniques for analyzing large educational data sets to make discoveries that will improve teaching and learning. His work centers on estimating how computer tutors impact learning. He established the first workshop in the field and in 2008 was program co-chair of the first International Conference on Educational Data Mining. He holds a BS in mathematics, computer science, and cognitive science from Carnegie Mellon University, and a ...

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Associated Faculty

Gillian Smith
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8316986

Gillian Smith, an award-winning game designer, joined WPI in 2017. Her interdisciplinary work merges technical research in AI and HCI with creative practice in textiles and games, with a view towards addressing social issues and broadening participation and perspectives on computing. Their research interests are in computational creativity, game design, computer science education, and the intersection of traditional crafts and computation. In 2021 Professor Smith was appointed director of WPI’s Interactive Media and Games Development program – one of the earliest gaming programs in the ...

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Erin Solovey
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6936

 My research is in human-computer interaction and human-AI interaction. One focus of my research is on next-generation interaction techniques, such as brain-computer interfaces, physiological computing, textile sensing, radar sensing, and reality-based interaction. My students and I design, build and evaluate interactive computing systems that use machine learning approaches to adapt and support the user’s changing cognitive state and context. I also investigate novel paradigms for designing with accessibility in mind, particularly for the Deaf community. Much of my work also explores ...

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