Jocelyn Shen

Hi! I'm Jocelyn, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab in the Personal Robots Group, advised by Professor Cynthia Breazeal (MIT Media Lab) and co-advised by Professor Maarten Sap (CMU LTI). I graduated from MIT in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science alongside a minor in Economics and in 2023 with a Master's in Media Arts and Sciences.

My research is broadly situated in the field of human-centered AI and aims to advance computational approaches, primarily using NLP and deep learning, for human-AI interactions that can promote connection, empathy, and prosociality. I believe that socially interactive AI can be used as a tool to better contextualize, understand, and express the human experience, both for personalization and interpersonal dynamics. My work focuses on developing social-emotional reasoning capabilities in artificial agents, as well as understanding the mechanisms behind human communicative behaviors. I use these insights to design new human-AI interactions with physically embodied or disembodied social AIs that can improve connection and foster prosocial relationships between people. Additionally, I am interested in evaluating the underlying capabilities, safety, and alignment of socially and emotionally intelligent AIs and place a strong emphasis on assessing the impact of interactive systems in the real world, across applications including emotional wellbeing, learning, and communications & storytelling. I have published my work across both NLP + HCI venues, including ACL, EMNLP, CHI, and ACII.

I'm currently working at Apple AI/ML as a research intern in Human-Centered Machine Intelligence. In the past, I've worked at Facebook (Software Engineering Intern), Citadel (Software Engineering Intern), and Affectiva (Data Science Intern), where I've developed full stack applications, backend infrastructures, and machine learning pipelines.

Aside from my work, I like to illustrate comics, sketch characters, and write anything ranging from poems to essays to novels. My awarded creative works often center around themes of racial identity, the meaning of art, and the digital age. Check out the rest of this site to learn more, and feel free to reach out!

Recent News


Conference Publications

Modeling Empathic Similarity in Personal Narratives

Jocelyn Shen, Maarten Sap, Pedro Colon-Hernandez, Hae Won Park, and Cynthia Breazeal
EMNLP 2023
Oral Presentation

EmpathicStories++: A Multimodal Dataset for Empathy towards Personal Experiences

Jocelyn Shen, Yubin Kim, Mohit Hulse, Wazeer Zulfikar, Sharifa Alghowinem, Cynthia Breazeal, and Hae Won Park
ACL 2024, Findings

Affective Typography: The Effect of AI-Driven Font Design on Empathetic Story Reading

Jocelyn Shen, Kathryn Jin*, Ann Zhang*, Cynthia Breazeal, and Hae Won Park
CHI 2023, Late Breaking Work
paper poster

Designing Conversational Agents for Emotional Self-Awareness

Jocelyn Shen, Kimaya Lecamwasam, Hae Won Park, Cynthia Breazeal, and Rosalind Picard.
ACII 2023, Late Breaking Report

Fostering Parent-Child Interactions through Behavioral Understanding of Synchrony

Jocelyn Shen, Ying Li, Javaria Hassan, Sharifa Alghowinem, Cynthia Breazeal, Hae Won Park, and Rosalind Picard.
ACII 2023, Late Breaking Report

Towards Transferrable Player Models in Educational Games

Samuel Spaulding, Jocelyn Shen, Hae Won Park, and Cynthia Breazeal.
AAMAS 2021

DRONEscape: Designing an Educational Escape Room for Adult AI Literacy

Daniella DiPaola*, Jocelyn Shen*, Rachelle Hu, Sharifa Alghowinem, and Cynthia Breazeal.
IEEE CoG 2023

Journal Publications

Lifelong Personalization via Gaussian Process Modeling for Long-Term HRI

Samuel Spaulding, Jocelyn Shen, Hae Won Park, and Cynthia Breazeal.
Frontiers in Robotics and AI 2021

Branching principles of animal and plant networks identified by combining extensive data, machine learning and modelling

Alexander B. Brummer, Panagiotis Lymperopoulos, Jocelyn Shen, Elif Tekin, Lisa P. Bentley, Vanessa Buzzard, Andrew Gray, Imma Oliveras, Brian J. Enquist and Van M. Savage.
Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2021

* indicates equal contribution

Awards and Honors



My work at its core aims to value the rich and diverse experiences of every individual. I strongly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial not only for scientific advancement but also for a cohesive society. I've served in the following positions throughout the past few years:



Time Zone

A story about racial identity and love in the digital age, told through a mixture of traditional narrative and social media messages.
🏆 1st prize, MIT Boit Manuscript Prize

Essays & Poetry

Between Barbed Wire: A Visual Analysis of TIME's Welcome to America

Visual analysis essay of TIME's Welcome to America cover, discussing the relationship between visual elements and U.S. immigration policies in parallel.
🏆 2nd prize, MIT List Vera Prize for Writing on the Visual Arts

She Lies Through Her Teeth
MIT Rune Magazine

Personal essay on lying for oneself versus lying for others. Explores themes of racial identity and family.

Sugar Glass Cage

Personal work, short poem on pollution.
🏆 1st Place, Helen Creeley Poetry Prize

A Needle in Time

Personal work, short poem on acupuncture and the body.
🏆 1st Place, Helen Creeley Poetry Prize

On Tech

Machines and Medicine
The Tech (MIT Newspaper)

Interviews with the Clinicial Machine Learning Group and Medical Vision Group at MIT on the future of AI in healthcare.

Mental Health and the Brain
The Tech (MIT Newspaper)

Interviews with researchers at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research on the science of mental health and the brain.


I began teaching myself digital drawing and painting in 2020, and have developed a particular interest in character design and visual storytelling. Below you will find some of my selected pieces as well as my Webtoon, Love in Favor, which I wrote and illustrated. For more artwork and sketches, look for my alias @bnbndog and check out my socials linked below.

My Webtoon Instagram Twitter Youtube Artstation Gumroad Patreon

Webtoons / Manga