Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Emily Mower Provost Receives Oscar Stern Award for Research in Emotion Expression and Perception

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Assistant Professor Emily Mower Provost has been awarded the 2015 Oscar Stern Award for Depression Research. The award will support her research into how variation in mood affects variation in emotion perception using stimuli developed at UM.

Mower Provost states, “Human emotion perception remains notoriously difficult to interpret.  It is not yet understood how individuals integrate and interpret audio-visual cues to arrive at specific perceptual judgments.”

The focus of her research is to provide a computational description of human emotion perception.  Understanding the mapping between the audio-visual properties of stimuli and human perception can facilitate design improvements in human-computer and human-robot interaction. The understanding of human emotional perception will further human-centered design, necessary for the wide-spread adoption of affective technology.

This work has application in the field of depression, in which there is a critical clinical need for quantitative objective measures that can be used to assess and treat individuals with mood disorders. The proposed work addresses this need by investigating computational methodologies to differentiate emotion perception patterns of healthy controls and individuals with Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.  The results from this study will not only increase our understanding of the relationship between mood variation and emotion perception but will lead to new measures of severity for mood disorders.

Emily Mower Provost received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering (summa cum laude and with thesis honors) from Tufts University, Boston, MA in 2004 and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

She has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Herbert Kunzel Engineering Fellowship from USC, the Intel Research Fellowship, and the Achievement Rewards For College Scientists (ARCS) Award. Her research interests are in human-centered speech and video processing and multimodal interfaces design. The goals of her research are motivated by the complexities of human emotion generation and perception.  

About the Oscar Stern Award

In 2011, the University of Michigan received a generous gift from Helmut F. Stern of Ann Arbor to endow a research award at the Depression Center. This gift was made in honor of his uncle Oscar Stern who helped him obtain a visa to leave Germany when Hitler was in power. This gift to create the “Oscar Stern Award in Depression Research” honors Oscar’s bravery, generosity and compassion, and expresses Helmut Stern’s gratitude to his uncle, without whom he might not be alive today. The intent of this award is to promote high impact, innovative ideas leading to strategic interventions to prevent or manage mood disorders.


Posted: March 12, 2015