Site-wide links


Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm

Assistant Professor
2110 Liberal Arts
(585) 475-7327

Cecilia ("Cissi") Ovesdotter Alm, Ph.D., is a faculty member of the Department of English in the language science/computational linguistics area at RIT's College of Liberal Arts. She is also among the extended faculty of the Ph.D. Program in Computing and Information Sciences, and is an affiliated faculty of the interdisciplinary Human-Centered Computing Group and the Multidisciplinary Vision Research Laboratory. She advises a team of students in Computational Language Science. She serves on doctoral committees in Computing & Information Sciences and Imaging Sciences, on MS thesis committees in Computer Science and in Experimental-Engineering Psychology, and she guides undergraduate students' research and co-ops. She is strongly committed to mentoring RIT students at different levels of their academic careers in her area of expertise.

Cecilia earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (with a focus on computational linguistics), in addition to a Certificate of Advanced Study in Language and Speech Processing and a Certificate of Graduate Specialization in Computational Science and Engineering. Before that, she studied English and American Studies and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Vienna where she also completed coursework in translation studies. 

Cecilia's research uses language as a rich, observable, and non-invasive cognitive sensor for data-intensive inference, in isolation or with multimodal sensors. Under the umbrella of computational language science, Cecilia engages with students in interdisciplinary research that integrates linguistic questions with cognitive science, including affect, reasoning, aging, and multimodal semantics. Improving health and education are key motivations for this research.

A passionate teacher, Cecilia focuses on graduate and undergraduate computational linguistics and language science offerings. She is the advisor for the Human Language Technology & Computational Linguistics immersion and theLanguage Science minor. She is committed to experiential learning, diversity in and beyond the classroom, and internationalizing experiences that prepare students for the global context.

Besides the USA, Cecilia has lived in Sweden, Great Britain, Austria, Spain, and Ecuador. She masters English, Swedish, Spanish, and German fluently. She has studied other languages, including some American Sign Language.

Cecilia is married to Rubén Proaño and they have three daughters (Mélida, Maya, and Nuria) who are growing up in a trilingual environment.

To access Cecilia's  CV, some of her publications, or her course syllabi, please see her website. Her data and resource distribution page is at

Teaching Spring 2014:

ENGL 351 Language Technology


Taught in Fall 2013:

ENGL 781/481 Introduction to Natural Language Processing 

ENGL 310 Introduction to Language Science 

Dr. Alm in RIT University News (
(May 8, 2013): Registration Open for RIT's Summer Knowledge-Representation Workshop.
(Mar. 14, 2012): RIT Symposium Honors Work of Swedish 'Renaissance Man' August Strindberg, March 23.
(Jan. 17, 2012): RIT Hosts 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' Producer Feb. 1.
(November, 2011): Human-Centered Computing (in section on Modeling Sight and Language).
(Apr. 11, 2011): RIT Hosts Language, Technology and Media Symposium April 15.
(Jan. 10, 2011): Sponsored Research Services Awards Seed Funding to Five RIT Faculty

Alm, C. O. (2009) Affect in Text and Speech. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag.
As technology and human-computer interaction advance, there is an increased interest in affective computing. One of the current challenges in computational speech and text processing is addressing affective and expressive meaning, an area that has received fairly sparse attention in linguistics. Linguistic investigation in this area is motivated both by the need for scientific study of subjective language phenomena, and by useful applications such as expressive text-to-speech synthesis. This work makes contributions to the study of affect and language by describing a novel data resource, outlining models and challenges for exploring affect in language, applying computational methods toward this problem with included empirical results, and suggesting paths for further research. The book should be particularly valuable for readers interested in language and affect, socioemotive aspects of language, subjective language phenomena, and computational semantics.
Articles in peer-reviewed proceedings:
1 Guo, X., et al. (2014, March).  Infusing perceptual expertise and domain knowledge into a human-centered image retrieval system: A prototype application (pp. 275-278). ETRA 2014.
2 Vaidyanathan, P., et al. (2014, March).  Recurrence quantification analysis reveals differences in eye-movement behavior between expert and novice dermatologists (pp. 303-306). ETRA 2014.
3 Womack, K., et al. (August 2013). Using linguistic analysis to characterize conceptual units of thought in spoken medical narratives (pp. 3722-3726) . Proceedings of Interspeech 2013, Lyon, France.
4 Womack, K., et al. (August 2013). Markers of confidence and correctness in spoken medical narratives (pp. 2549-2553) . Proceedings of Interspeech 2013, Lyon, France.
5 Womack, K, McCoy W., Alm, C. O. (2012, July). Disfluencies as extra-propositional indicators of cognitive processing(pp. 1-9). Workshop on Extra-propositional aspect of meaning in computational linguistics at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Assoc. for Computational Linguistics 2012, Jeju, Korea.
6 McCoy, W., Alm, C., et al. (2012, July). Annotation schemes to encode domain knowledge in medical narratives (pp. 95-103). The 6th Linguistic Annotation Workshop at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Assoc. for Computational Linguistics 2012, Jeju, Korea.
7 McCoy, W., Alm, C., et al. (2012, July). Linking uncertainty in physicians' narratives to diagnostic correctness (pp. 19-27). Workshop on Extra-propositional aspect of meaning in computational linguistics at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Assoc. for Computational Linguistics 2012, Jeju, Korea.
8 Lehrman, M., Alm, C. O., & Proa–o, R. A. (2012, June). Detecting distressed vs. non- distressed affect state in short forum texts (pp. 9-18). Workshop on Language in Social Media at the Conference of the North Am. Chapter of the Assoc. for Comp. Linguistics-Human Language Technologies 2012, Montreal, Canada.
9 Li, R., Pelz, J., Shi, P., Alm, C.O., & Haake. (2012, April) Learning eye movement patterns for characterization of perceptual expertise (pp. 393-396). ETRA 2012. 
10 Alm, C. O. (2011, June). Subjective natural language problems: Motivations, applications, characterizations, and implications (pp. 107-112). Proceedings of 49th Annual Meeting of the Assoc. for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Portland, OR. 
11 Heimisdóttir, L. Ö., Alm, C. O, Krantz-Odendahl, K., & Coots, I. A. (2010, September). A resource for learning Swedish oral skills. Online Proceedings of the INTERSPEECH 2010 satellite workshop Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology, Tokyo, Japan (P1-1). 
12 Alm, C. O. (2010, July). Characteristics of high agreement affect annotation in text (pp. 118-122). Proceedings of the LAW IV workshop at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Uppsala, Sweden. 
13 Alm, C. O., & Llorà, X. (2006, September). Evolving emotional prosody (pp. 1826-1829). Proceedings of INTERSPEECH 2006 - ICSLP, Ninth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
14 Alm, C. O., Loeff, N., & Forsyth, D. (2006, July). Challenges for annotating images for sense disambiguation (pp. 1-4).Proceedings of the Workshop on Frontiers in Linguistically Annotated Corpora, at the 21st International Conference on Computational Linguistics and 44th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Sydney. 
15 Loeff, N., Alm, C. O., & Forsyth, D. (2006, July). Discriminating image senses by clustering with multimodal features(pp. 547-554). Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Computational Linguistics and 44th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Sydney.
16 Alm, C. O., & Sproat, R. (2005, October). Emotional sequencing and development in fairy tales (pp. 668-674). In Tao, J., Tan, T., & Picard, R. W. (Eds.), Proceedings of the First International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction, Beijing, China. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Heidelberg. 
17 Alm, C. O., Roth, D., & Sproat, R. (2005, October). Emotions from text: Machine learning for text-based emotion prediction (pp. 579-586). Proceedings of Human Language Technology Conference and Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Vancouver. 
18 Alm, C. O., & Sproat, R. (2005, September). Perceptions of emotions in expressive storytelling (pp. 533-536).Proceedings of Interspeech'2005 - Eurospeech, 9th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology, Lisbon, Portugal.
19 Roth, D., Kao-Kao, G., Li, X., Nagarajan, R., Punyanok, V., Rizzolo, N., Yih, W., Alm, C., & Moran, L. (2001). Learning components for a question-answering system. TREC Report.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals: 

1 Alm, C. O. (2012). The role of affect in the computational modeling of natural language. Language & Linguistics Compass: Computational & Mathematical, 6(7), 416-430.

2 Stenport, A. W., & Alm, C. O. (2009). Corporations, crime, and gender construction in Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: exploring twenty-first century neoliberalism in Swedish culture. Scandinavian Studies Journal, 81(2), 157-178.

3 Alm, C. O. (2003). English in the Ecuadorian commercial context. World Englishes, 22(2), 143- 158.
Articles in other conference proceedings: 

1 Histon, J., Rantanen, E., & Alm, C. O. (2013). Communication sequences in controller pilot communications (pp. 633-638). . Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology. Wright State University, Dayton, OH, May 6-9, 2013.

2 Histon, J., Rantanen, E., & Alm, C. O. (2012). Air traffic control voice data analysis to validate NextGen procedures. (pp. 4568-4577). . Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics San Francisco, CA, July 21-25, 2012.

3 Alm, C. O. (2011) What can language technologies do for endangered languages, and vice-versa? In Haboud, M. , & N. Ostler. (Eds.). Endangered Languages: Voices and Images, FEL XV (pp. 98-102). Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages.
Book chapters or articles in edited collections:

1 Stenport, A. W., & Alm, C. O. (2012). Corporations, the welfare state, and covert misogyny in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In King, D. & C. Smith (Eds.) Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Kick Their Asses! Feminist Perspectives on Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, (pp. 123-134) Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. 

2 Forsyth, D. A., Berg, T., Alm, C. O., Farhadi, A., Hockenmaier, J., Loeff, N., & Wang, G. (2009). Words and pictures: categories, modifiers, depiction, and iconography. In S. J. Dickinson, A. Leonardis, A. Schiele, & M. J. Tarr (Eds.). Object Categorization: Computer and Human Vision Perspectives, (pp. 167-181). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Linguistically annotated corpora available at my dataset page with RIT Research Computing at

1 Alm, C. O. (June, 2011). Scandinavian Media Collection: Annotated Images [Images from Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Iceland) with short text annotations for three photographers and (informal) narrative annotation for one. From a project with Megan Eaton.].
2 Alm, C. O. (2008). Affect Dataset. [Classic literary tales annotated for affective contents, including direct access to subset of high inter-annotator agreement.] 

3 Loeff, N, Alm, C. O., & Forsyth, D. (2006). Image Sense Discrimination Dataset. [Annotations of images corresponding to words of lexical ambiguity, paired with images, thumbnails, and accompanying web texts.]
Book reviews:

1 Alm, C. O. Review of Filipi. (2009). Toddler and Parent Interaction: The organization of gaze, pointing and vocalization. Anna Filipi. John Benjamins Publishing Company: Amsterdam/Philadelphia, vol. 192 in Pragmatics & Beyond New Series (xiii + 268 pp. + video clips). Journal of Sociolinguistics, 16(2), 294-296.

2 Alm, C. O. (2004). Review of Johansson and Graedler. (2002). Rocka, hipt og snacksy: om engelsk i norsk språk og samfunn. [“Rocka,” “hipt,” and “snacksy”: About English in Norwegian Language and Society.] Stig Johansson and Anne-Line Graedler, Kristiansand S.: Høyskoleforlaget/Norwegian Academic Press, 2002, 318 pp. World Englishes, 23(4), 614-616.

3 Alm, C. O. (2001). English in Europe: The Acquisition of a Third Language. Edited by Jasone Cenoz and Ulrike Jessner. Clevendon: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 2000, xii + 271 pp. World Englishes, 20(2), 241-243.

1 Vaidyanthan, P., et al. (2013, August). Integration of eye movements and spoken description for medical image understanding. In K. Holmqvist, F. Mulvey & R. Johansson (Eds.), Book of Abstracts of the 17th European Conference on Eye Movements, 11-16 August 2013, in Lund, Sweden. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 6(3), 40. 

2 Alm, C. O. (2009, fall). Window to Swedish and Scandinavia: Modules 1-5; Alm, C. O. & Coots, I. A. Modules 6-7 [title translated from Swedish].
Manuscript reviewing for ACL (Evaluation Methods, Social Media & Sentiment Analysis), NAACL-HLT (Social Media), EMNLP (Sentiment Analysis & Opinion Mining), COLING, Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Literature, Workshop on Computational Approaches to Analysis and Generation of Emotion in Text, IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, Computational Intelligence.