Recent posts

New UCD HCI Research Group

In Fall 2020, I launched the UC Davis HCI Research Group: a collective of professors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students across campus investigating the dynamics of human-computer interaction. 

We have a quarterly talk series (on Zoom):

Fall Quarter 2020

J​orge Peña
Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication (UCD)

Dr. Peña specializes in computer-mediated communication, new media, communication in video games and virtual environments, and content analysis of online communication. 

Friday, November 13th 10am-11am (on Zoom)

To join the mailing list to receive updates and the Zoom links, please email Michelle Cohn ( ​​

Interspeech 2020

We are thrilled to have several papers accepted to the 2020 Interspeech conference:

  • Cohn, M., & Zellou, G. “Perception of concatenative vs. neural text-to-speech (TTS): Differences in intelligibility in noise and language attitudes”
  • Cohn, M., Sarian, M., Predeck, K., & Zellou, G. “Individual variation in language attitudes toward voice-AI: The role of listeners’ autistic-like traits”
  • Zellou, G., & Cohn, M. “Social and functional pressures in vocal alignment: Differences for human and voice-AI interlocutors”

Including one for the new collaboration between UC Davis and Saarland University:

  • Cohn, M., Raveh, E., Predeck, K., Gessinger, I., Möbius, B., Zellou, G. “Differences in Gradient Emotion Perception: Human vs. Alexa Voices”

CogSci 2020 Papers

We are thrilled that three of our papers have been accepted to the 2020 Cognitive Science Society Meeting!

  • Cohn, M., Jonell, P., Kim, T., Beskow, J., Zellou, G. Embodiment and gender interact in alignment to TTS voices.

While at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden) in September 2019, I met up with Dr. Jonas Beskow (pictured in the center), co-founder of Furhat Robotics, and Ph.D. student Patrik Jonell (pictured on the right). Together with Georgia Zellou and Taylor Kim, we’re conducting a study to test the role of embodiment and gender in human’s voice-AI interaction with three platforms: Amazon Echo, Nao, and Furhat. 
  • Zellou, G., & Cohn, M. Top-down effects of apparent humanness on vocal alignment toward human and device interlocutors.
  • Zellou, G., Cohn, M., Block, A. Top-down effect of speaker age guise on perceptual compensation for coarticulatory /u/-fronting.

LSA 2020

We’ll present two projects at the annual Linguistic Society of America (LSA) meeting in January:

  • California listeners’ patterns of partial compensation for coarticulatory /u/-fronting is influenced by the apparent age of the speaker (Aleese Block, Michelle Cohn, Georgia Zellou)
  • Conversational role influences speech alignment toward digital assistant and human voices (Georgia Zellou, Michelle Cohn, Tyler Kline, Bruno Ferenc Segedin)

EMNLP 2019 Paper

Congrats to the Gunrock team, led by Prof. Zhou Yu, for our demo paper acceptance at the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) in Hong Kong!

Gunrock: A Social Bot for Complex and Engaging Long Conversations
Dian Yu, Michelle Cohn, Yi Mang Yang, Chun Yen Chen, Weiming Wen, Jiaping Zhang, Mingyang Zhou, Kevin Jesse, Austin Chau, Antara Bhowmick, Shreenath Iyer, Giritheja Sreenivasulu, Sam Davidson, Ashwin Bhandare and Zhou Yu [pdf]

You can see our system demonstration (2 minute video):

The Gunrock team at the 2018 reception after winning the Alexa Prize!

CAMP3 Talks

Great job to Tyler Kline and Aleese Block who presented two of our projects at the California Meeting on Psycholinguistics (CAMP3) this weekend at UC Santa Cruz!

  • Speech Alignment of Females toward Voice-AI and Human Voices: Conversational Role Influences Phonetic Imitation in a Map Task (Tyler Kline, Bruno Ferenc Segedin, Michelle Cohn & Georgia Zellou) 
  • California listeners’ patterns of partial compensation for coarticulatory /u/-fronting is influenced by the apparent age of the speaker (Aleese Block, Michelle Cohn & Georgia Zellou)
Tyler Kline presenting

Aleese Block presenting via handout during the power outage

Interspeech 2019

Along with Georgia Zellou & Bruno Ferenc Segedin (UC Davis Phonetics Lab), I traveled to Graz, Austria to present some of our research at the 2019 Interspeech Conference!

Georgia Zellou presenting our research exploring individual variation in speech toward Siri vs. human voices
Presenting our project looking at alignment toward emotionally expressive productions by Amazon Alexa

Bruno Ferenc Segedin presenting our research exploring phonetic adaptation to human vs. Amazon Alexa voices
Presenting research on acoustic cue weighting for musicians / nonmusicians

See below for links for the papers: