About Me

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I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. My thesis supervisor was Professor David Yarowsky. Prior to that, I studied Engineering at Brown University, where I got my Sc.B.. I also got my M.S.E. (Masters of Science in Engineering) at JHU along the way to getting my Ph.D..


Breaking news: We were just informed that our CHI2016 paper has received a CHI Best Paper Award — representing the top 1% of all submissions. Congratulations team!!!!!

My main research interest is in human-centered computing, including Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Affective Computing. Specifically, I am interested in how humans use computers, the interplay between culture and computing, the aspect of computing that interacts back at the human, and computing that interacts with the environment. Maybe, I should say that I am interested in putting chi into computing!

I am one of the directors of the Department’s CHILab, which, as you can probably guess, focuses on research in computer-human interaction. I currently am supervising two PhD students and two MPhil students, and I have graduated two more MPhils:

  • Georgia Jiajia Li, PhD (2012–)
  • Michael Xuelin Huang, PhD (2011–), thesis topic: affective computing
  • Will W.W. Tang, M.Phil. (2012–15), thesis topic: pen-based human-centered computing
  • Kenneth W.K. Lo, M.Phil. (2010–14), thesis topic: software engineering for multimodal interaction
  • Winnie W.Y. Lau, M.Phil. (2008–10), thesis topic: child-centered educational computing
  • Chi-Shing Wang, M.Phil. (2005–07), thesis topic: noun phrase coreference

My other research interests are in computational linguistics and statistical natural language processing. I am also very interested in computing education and educational technology.

I am currently looking to recruit at least two new graduate students and one postdoctoral fellow in Human-Computer Interaction and Affective Computing. If you are creative, hardworking, and have an ability to “think out of the box”, and are also well-grounded in engineering or computer science (especially in design or multimedia computing), please contact me.

Here is a list of my publications, and here is my Google Scholar Page (opens in new window).

I strongly believe in designing things and giving them away. I am one of the co-authors of the fnTBL (Fast Transformation-based Learning Toolkit), a powerful method for automatic extraction of patterns from templates.

I have served as reviewer and on the program committee for several journals and conferences including CHI, TALE, TOCE, IEEE TSMC-B, CL, CLCLP, ACL, COLING, EMNLP and IJCAI. Within the department, I am one of the faculty-in-charge of the CHILab, which focuses on human-centered computing.


I strongly believe that as faculty members of a university (and not as staff of a research lab), teaching is our bread-and-butter and our core business. My teaching philosophy is summed up in the Confucian saying


Which translates roughly to “Not just my own, but others’ as well”. In other words, teach my students the way that I would like them to be taught, if they were my own.

A bit of bragging rights: I was awarded the University's President Award in Teaching, 2009-10! 

In addition, I was the recipient of the Faculty of Engineering's Individual Merit Award in Teaching for the 2005-06 and 2007-08 academic years, and the Outstanding Award in Teaching for the 2009-10. Together with my colleagues Drs. Stephen Chan and Vincent Ng, we were awarded the Faculty of Engineering's Team Outstanding Award in Teaching for 2006-07; as a team with some other colleagues, we were awarded the University's President Award in Services for 2007-08.

I am teaching two courses this coming semester: 

Service Learning

I am a strong proponent of community work and service learning. It is my own personal conviction that it is part of our responsibility, as the more privileged members of community, to give back to the less fortunate. From an educational standpoint, I also strongly believe that service learning, when properly done, is one of the best ways to educate students on higher-level thinking, critical thinking, and social responsibility. This is especially true of international service learning projects.

Hong Kong PolyU has made service learning a compulsory part of its new 4-year curriculum, and I am proud and honored to have been given a role in its implementation. I am the coordinator of the subcommittee on service learning subjects, with the responsibility of vetting and approving service learning subject proposals.

In my own capacity, I am on the teaching team for two subjects: my projects have taken students to China (Hubei and Gansu), Cambodia, and (this year), Rwanda!

Talks Online

I give talks on teaching and service learning and occasionally those are taped :-)

The Educational Development Center (EDC) at PolyU asked me to help make a video to showcase service learning, using one of my own courses as an example.

My talk from the “Excellent Teachers on Teaching Excellence” series is also online:

© Grace Ngai 2013