Jacqueline M. Kory-Westlund wearing sunglasses on a mountain, arms outstretched with a happy smile

I am an independent scholar, writer, and artist.

I have a multidisciplinary background with expertise in cognitive science, computer science, education, psychology, ethics, and robotics. Watch my TEDx talk: Kids can't be taught, but they love to learn!

I am open to new opportunities! If you are interested in working with me, drop me a line.

Places you can find me:

My Research

I completed my PhD at the MIT Media Lab in the Personal Robots Group under Dr. Cynthia Breazeal in 2019. I earned my Master's of Media Arts and Sciences in September 2014.

My research is in human-robot interaction (HRI) and educational technology. I focus on how social robots, tablet games, and other technology can help engage and support children in learning, reading, talking, and emoting. I ask questions about how to create more effective robotic learning companions, how children understand social robots, how context and framing affect child-robot interactions, how children's relationships connect to their learning, and the ethics of using robots in children's lives.

This is a pretty good summary of my research.

Motivating my work are broader questions about the nature of personal identity, how we understand and perceive others, and the importance of empathy, relationships, and social-emotional skills in learning. I've found that HRI—being such a multidisciplinary field—is a fantastic venue for studying how people understand and interact with the world.

I was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a Media Lab Learning Innovation Fellowship to support my research at the Media Lab.

Read my blog posts or other articles about my work.

Recent updates

river rocks partly submerged in still water Was it worth revising and resubmitting a paper ... again? After rejections from several journals and over 30 revisions? But writing is a process. If the words aren't right yet, it's my job as a writer to make them right.

a child puts her arm around a fluffy red and blue robot and grins In my dissertation research on relational technology, I found that girls and boys frequently treated a relational robot differently... but why? What are the implications for designing relational technology in the future?

three pictures in a collage, the first of a girl sorting pictures of different things along a line, the second of three drawings of a robot with different facial expressions, the third of a girl talking to a robot As part of my PhD research at MIT, I developed a variety of experimental protocols and assessments that are available for others to adapt and use.

child smiling at the tega robot Relational technology attempts to build long-term, social-emotional relationships with users. In my dissertation, I examined how one such technology—social robots—can facilitate children's language learning by promoting engagement, rapport, and positive relationships.

More about me

I'm an alumna of Vassar College. I earned my BA in Cognitive Science in 2011, with a minor in Computer Science. While at Vassar, I was a member of the Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory, participating in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute in 2008 and 2009.

During my semester abroad at the University of Sydney, Australia, I interned at the Brain and Mind Research Institute. In the summer of 2010, I interned at NASA Langley Research Center in the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars Program—you can read about the Autonomous Vehicle Lab I helped establish.

At Vassar, I was on the foil squad on the Women's Fencing Team, captaining the team my senior year. I also helped start a Science & Science Fiction Writer's Club.

I spent my first post-college summer as an intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Engineering Boot Camp, working with laser space robots. Fun fact: That's where I met my husband!

Following that, I worked for a year as a research intern exploring human emotion and learning in Dr. Sidney D'Mello's Emotive Computing lab in the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and at the University of Notre Dame.