BL2 Student Researchers at ACM International Conference

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

BL2 Student Researchers Present Project RAVE Discoveries at ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents


July 03, 2019



Paris, France – – Two student researchers in the Petitto Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging (BL2) gave a public presentation of the BL2 team’s work today in Paris, France. They reported on new discoveries following from the team’s creation of RAVE: the RobotAVatar thermal Enhanced language learning tool for young deaf and hearing babies (NSF INSPIRE grant, Petitto, PI).

Photo: Rachel Sortin (left) and Kailyn Aaron-Lozano (right) present “Can a Signing Virtual Human Engage a Baby’s Attention?” at the ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (Paris, France).


The BL2 student researchers are Kailyn Aaron-Lozano: presently a 2nd-year M.A. student in Deaf Studies Department, Gallaudet University B.A., History (CSU-Northridge, 2013); and Rachel Sortino: M.A. in Deaf Education (Gallaudet University, 2019), M.Ed. in Science Education (Notre Dame, 2017). B.S. in Chemistry (Fordham University, 2015).

Each of the students are co-authors on a journal manuscript that Dr. Petitto and other co-authors submitted to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM/Division: Intelligent Virtual Agents) about our RAVE science discoveries.



Photo: Rachel Sortin (left) and Kailyn Aaron-Lozano (right) present research discoveries from Project RAVE at the ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (Paris, France).


Here in this paper, our discoveries focused on young babies’ potential to learn sign language (ASL) from an avatar within a sensitive period of language acquisition (ages 4-12 months)—the time in human development when phonetic-syllabic units have peaked saliency. Our BL2 scientific experiments demonstrated that the answer is yes!

The journal manuscript underwent a rigorous peer-review process. At first, we were all thrilled that ACM/IVA accepted our journal article for publication. We were even more excited when ACM/IVA invited us to give a full public presentation at their International Virtual Agents (IVA) conference in Paris on July 2-5, 2019. We are especially and deeply grateful to Dean Mathur and Provost Erting for their kind support of this wonderful learning opportunity for our Gallaudet students.


Both Kailyn and Rachel did a fabulous job and riveted this international conference of scientists from around the world. They noted that the audience was fascinated in what they had to present and that the opportunity will catapult their scientific learning, professional training, and international professional conference presentation experience.


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