Skip to main content


Office Location

177 Huntington Avenue
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02115


Stefan Olafson is a PhD student in the Personal Health Informatics program at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science, advised by Professor Timothy Bickmore. Stefan is a member of the Relational Agents Group, and his research is primarily focused on using virtual agents to improve healthcare as well as human-computer interaction. Before coming to Northeastern, Stefan earned a double bachelor’s degree in English and Chinese studies at the University of Iceland, as well as his master’s degree in language technologies from the University of Iceland and Reykjavik University.


  • MA in Language Technologies, University of Iceland and Reykjavik University – Iceland
  • BA in English Studies, University of Iceland – Iceland
  • BA in Chinese Studies, University of Iceland – Iceland

About Me

  • Hometown: Watertown, Massachusetts
  • Field of Study: Personal Health Informatics
  • PhD Advisor: Timothy Bickmore

What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?

This is my first year as a PhD student, and so far I am taking the core courses of the program, working in my respective research groups, and coming up with my own project ideas.

What are your research interests?

I would like to develop research based health interventions using virtual agents, and I am interested in how my research can improve the human-computer interaction aspect of these systems, namely to increase their natural language understanding and generation. Initially I entered into university with the intent to become a high school English teacher. After the first year of English, I developed an interest in linguistics. When I graduated, that interest extended to the merger of linguistics and computer science. Shortly thereafter, I entered a Language Technologies masters program where I was introduced to research involving embodied conversational agents at Reykjavik University’s CADIA lab. I developed an interest in conducting research and becoming a professor during that time, and applied for a PhD at Northeastern for the chance to continue working in the field of virtual agents, this time in the context of healthcare.

What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?

I’m interested in the role of social chat in human-agent interaction.

What aspect of what you do is most interesting?

What I find most interesting is working on the problems which no one has the answers to.

What are your research or career goals, going forward?

My career goals are to become a successful researcher and a professor.