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Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm

Associate Professor
2110 Liberal Arts
(585) 475-7327

Cecilia ("Cissi") Ovesdotter Alm, Ph.D., is a faculty member of the Department of English in language science and computational linguistics of RIT's College of Liberal Arts. She is also among the extended faculty of the Ph.D. Program in Computing and Information Sciences and the faculty of Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. She is co-director of the Computational Linguistics and Speech Processing - CLaSP - lab group, and also affiliated with 3M Lab and MVRL.

Cissi earned her doctoral degree in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (with a focus on computational linguistics/semantics), in addition to a Certificate of Advanced Study in Language and Speech Processingand a Certificate of Graduate Specialization in Computational Science and Engineering. Her Master's degree in Linguistics is from the same university. Before that, she studied English and American Studies and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Vienna where she also completed coursework in translation studies. 

Cissi's research focus is on linguistic and language-inclusive sensing with text, speech, and multimodal data for domains such as health and wellbeing. She is the Principal Investigator of REU Site: Computational Sensing. Cissi is committed to supporting and mentoring students in her area of expertise, and she engages in transdisplinary work and co-mentoring.

A passionate teacher, Cissi offers undergraduate and graduate computational linguistics and language science courses. She is the advisor for the Human Language Technology & Computational Linguistics immersion and the Language Science minor/immersion. 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, Cissi 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.

Cissi is married to Rubén Proaño and has three daughters (Mélida, Maya, Nuria) who are growing up in a trilingual home.

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 2017-2018:

ENGL-310 Introduction to Language Science

ENGL-482 Science and Analytics of Speech

ENGL-581/681 Introduction to Natural Language Processing

Independent Study

Ten representative publications (an asterisk * highlights RIT students)

1. Cecilia O. Alm. 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.


2. Saif Mohammad and Cecilia O. Alm. 2015. Computational analysis of affect and emotion in language. Tutorial at Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Lisbon, Portugal.

3. Cecilia O. Alm. 2016. Language as sensor in human-centered computing: Clinical contexts as use cases. Language & Linguistics Compass: Computational & Mathematical, 10(3): 105-119.

4. Xuan Guo*, Qi Yu, Cecilia O. Alm, Cara Calvelli, Jeff B. Pelz, Pengcheng Shi, and Anne R. Haake. 2014. From spoken narratives to domain knowledge: Mining linguistic data for medical image understanding. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, 62(2): 79-90.

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

6. Preethi Vaidyanathan*, Jeff B. Pelz, Emily Prud’hommeaux, Cecilia O. Alm, and Anne R. Haake. 2016. Fusing eye movements and observer narratives for expert-driven image-region annotations. In Proceedings of ETRA, pages 27-34, Charleston, South Carolina. Best paper award.

7. Nicolas Schrading*, Cecilia O. Alm, Ray Ptucha, and Christopher M. Homan. 2015. An analysis of domestic abuse discourse on Reddit. In Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, pages 2577-2583, Lisbon, Portugal.

8. Vasudev Bethamcherla*, Will Paul*, Cecilia O. Alm, Reynold Bailey, Joe Geigel, and Linwei Wang. 2015. Face-speech sensor fusion for non-invasive stress detection. In Proceedings of FAAVSP, pages 196-201, Vienna, Austria.

9. Joseph Bullard*, Cecilia O. Alm, Qi Yu, Pengcheng Shi, and Anne R. Haake. 2014. Towards multimodal modeling of physicians' diagnostic confidence and self-awareness using medical narratives. In Proceedings of COLING, the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers, 1718–1727, Dublin, Ireland.

10. Limor Hochberg*, Cecilia O. Alm, Esa M. Rantanen, Caroline M. DeLong, and Anne R. Haake. 2014. Decision style in a clinical reasoning corpus. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Biomedical Natural Language Processing (at ACL 2014), pages 83-87, Baltimore, Maryland.

Job Posting: Tenure Track

This year, we are hiring for a tenure track position in Digital Writing and New Media Production. Check out the job announcement here!