James C. Lester is Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and founding director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. His research centers on transforming education with artificial intelligence. His current work ranges from investigations of adaptive learning environments and intelligent game-based learning environments to affective computing, computational models of interactive narrative, and multimodal learning analytics. The AI-driven learning environments he and his team create have been used by thousands of K-12 students around the globe.
Dr. Lester founded the Center for Educational Informatics (CEI) at North Carolina State University to establish a unique interdisciplinary R&D center with the mission of developing next-generation learning technologies leveraging artificial intelligence. CEI designs adaptive learning environments for K-12 and higher education, defense and first responder training, and healthcare. With a portfolio of broadly interdisciplinary projects, CEI is housed in the NC State College of Engineering and collaborates with partner institutions and organizations across the US and internationally.
Dr. Lester is the author of more than two hundred publications, primarily in the area of AI technologies for education. His research program is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), and the Army Futures Command. Additional support has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), DARPA, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Lester has served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (2009-12). He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1997), the North Carolina State University Outstanding Teaching Award (1998), and the Best Paper Awards at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (1997), the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (1999), the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2011), and the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (2015). His foundational work on pedagogical agents has been recognized with the IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award (2017) by the International Federation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).