Rodney D. Nielsen

Associate Professor

Director HiLT Lab

Computer Science and Engineering


Discovery Park

3940 N. Elm, Room F246

Denton, TX 76207-7102


Rodney Nielsen received a dual Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2008. He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UNT, where he directs the Human Intelligence and Language Technologies (HILT) Lab with Eduardo Blanco. Prior to coming to UNT, Dr. Nielsen was an Assistant Professor Adjunct of Computer Science at CU Boulder, a Research Scientist in CU's Center for Computational Language and Education Research, and a Research Scientist with Boulder Language Technologies.

Research Overview

Dr. Nielsen's research is primarily in the areas of Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, and Cognitive Science, with an emphasis on Educational Technology, Health & Clinical Informatics, and their confluence – Educational Health & Wellbeing Companion Robots. He is currently researching emotive, perceptive, spoken-dialogue companion robots, in the form of stuffed animals, to assist the elderly and isolated in need of special care. Such Companionbots might help seniors maintain their independence and continue to live in their homes. Dr. Nielsen is also inventing the future of classroom education with human language technology that facilitates a teacher's real-time understanding of the students' ongoing subject comprehension. He has developed machine learning algorithms to recognize elementary school students' understanding of science concepts when interacting with Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and is developing an end-to-end question answering and data mining system for clinical informatics. He has researched computational models for recognizing textual entailment, labeling semantic roles (predicate argument structure) in text, and estimating class probabilities in machine learning, among other things. He also has an extensive background in software engineering, including research in the areas of software re-engineering environments, operations research, automated software testing, and automatic code generation.