5 Questions with Faculty: Yelin Kim

Yelin Kim's research involves computer systems that can sense social signals during communication. (Photo by Daphne Jorgensen)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 6, 2017) — Yelin Kim joined UAlbany a year ago as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, just after completing her PhD at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Kim’s research focuses on systems that can sense and interpret social signals, and she is a director of the INSPIRE lab, which stands for Interaction Sensing and Perception in Real Environment.

What are you working on now?

I work on automatic emotion recognition, a technology that can provide emotional intelligence to AI systems. My work focuses on developing statistical and algorithmic approaches that can quantify and analyze nonverbal human behaviors in multimodal (audio-visual) data, particularly emotion expressions during interactions. This research builds upon multimodal signal processing, machine learning, and behavioral science.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

I’m deeply interested in understanding human interactions. I want to quantitatively uncover and analyze our affective behavior to advance the fundamental understanding of how humans socially interact with each other, with machines, and with the outside world.

Emotion is an essential component of human interaction and experience, and it can provide clues about our needs, preferences and attitudes. It also affects and regulates how we perceive, judge and react. I believe that automatic emotion recognition research can open a new window to human-centered, affective technology that can impact a variety of fields, such as robotics, healthcare, security, education and marketing.

If you weren’t teaching at a university, what would you be doing?

I love teaching and it is one of the most rewarding experience to see how my students grow over time. If I wasn’t teaching at a university, I would be still teaching at a secondary school or high school.

My first teaching experience was when I was a freshman at a college. I was a part of a volunteering club at my university, which organized annual three-day camps at Muju, a rural area in South Korea. We mentored high school students in economic difficulties to support their academic and personal growth. From that experience, I learned that education can change one’s life and career.

What’s the best thing about working at UAlbany?

One of the most exciting things about UAlbany is our new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. We are at the exciting growth mode right now, and I am thrilled to be part of this. Along with an undergraduate engineering program to serve a diverse student body, we are committed to building a strong, research-focused graduate program. The University has invested heavily in CEAS and the commitment to developing the faculty and the program are very strong!

What’s one thing students might be surprised to know about you?

During college, I worked as a part-time volunteer tour guide in Seoul, South Korea (my hometown), showing foreign tourists beautiful places in Seoul — such as Gyeongbok Palace, Deoksu Palace, and Insa-Dong. Let me know if you are planning to visit Seoul!

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