Heather Pon-Barry’s research in the area of spoken language processing combines elements of artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, signal processing and cognitive science. She develops technologies for speech interfaces that analyze the acoustics and intonation of a person's speech to augment traditional speech recognition—essentially teaching computers to move beyond just the words a person says and incorporate other signals. Pon-Barry focuses primarily on natural language communication in human-robot interaction and spoken dialogue in educational technology applications such as personalized, intelligent tutoring.
Pon-Barry earned a doctorate in computer science from Harvard University where she was named a 2013 Siebel Scholar. Her research was supported by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Previously, she worked in the Natural Language Understanding Group at Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto, California and in the Computational Semantics Lab at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.
At Mount Holyoke Pon-Barry teaches courses in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and advanced object-oriented programming. She previously was an assistant professor of computer science at Arizona State University.