Sneha Girap (Editor)

Nuria Oliver

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Nationality  Spanish
Name  Nuria Oliver
Doctoral advisor  Alex Pentland

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Fields  Artificial Intelligence Perceptual Intelligence Human Behavior Modeling Mobile Computing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Big Data Analytics
Institutions  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Microsoft Research Telefonica
Thesis  Towards Perceptual Computing: Statistical Modeling of Human Individual and Interactive Behaviors (2000)
Alma mater  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Institution  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Microsoft Research, Telefonica

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Nuria Oliver is a computer scientist. She is Director of Data Science Research at Vodafone and Chief Data Scientist at DataPop Alliance. Previously, she was Scientific Director at Telefónica and a researcher at Microsoft Research. She holds a PhD from the Media Lab at MIT, and is an IEEE Fellow. She is one of the most cited female computer scientist in Spain, with her research having been cited by more than 11800 publications. She is well known for her work in computational models of human behavior, human computer-interaction, mobile computing and big data for social good.


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Nuria graduated with a degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in 1994. She was awarded the Spanish First National Prize of Telecommunication Engineers in 1994.

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In 1995 she received a La Caixa fellowship to study at MIT, where she received her doctorate at the Media Lab in the area perceptual intelligence. In 2001, she joined Microsoft Research.

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In 2004 she was named one of the top 100 innovators under 35 (TR100, today TR35) by MIT Technology Review, based on her work in intelligent human-computer interfaces.

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After twelve years in the US, she left Microsoft in 2008 to join Telefónica in Barcelona as Director of Multimedia Research, the only female director hired at Telefónica R&D at the time.

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In 2009, she was selected as one of the "100 future leaders who will design Spain in the next decades" by El Capital Magazine. Her work on duplicate video detection, won the best paper award for ACM Multimedia 2009, and her work comparing speech and text on mobile phones won the best paper award of ACM MobileHCI 2009. In the same year she was named a Rising Talent by the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society.

She was profiled as one of nine female Spanish leaders in technology in 2012 by the Spanish newspaper El País. Her research on collaborative filtering won the ACM RecSys 2012 best paper award.

In 2013 she received the Senior Member Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and in 2014 she received the IEEE Senior Member Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

In 2014, she received the ACM ICMI Ten Year Technical Impact Award as one of the authors of a paper on layered graphical models of human behavior. The paper described a system that was able to discern the activity of a user based on evidence from video, acoustic and computer interactions. Her work on the economic value of personal data received the ACM Ubicomp 2014 best paper award.

In 2015 she received the Distinguished Scientist Award by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), being the first Spanish female computer scientist to receive this award. Her research on boredom detection using mobile phones received the best paper award in ACM Ubicomp 2015,

In 2016 she was named a Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence, recognizing her work on probabilistic models of human behavior. She was also the winner of the 2016 European Digital Woman of the Year Award and received the 3rd annual Ada Byron prize from the University of Deusto, a Spanish prize at the national level which highlights the work of women who bring progress to new areas of technology. It recognized her work in artificial intelligence, big data, human-machine interaction, computational models of human behavior and mobile computing. In the same year, she was also one of the winners of the Gaudí Gresol award, the "Salvà i Campillo" prize by the Catalan association of telecommunication engineers, selected as one of the top 100 female leader in Spain by Mujeres&Cia, and elected Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence (ECCAI).

Later that year, she left Telefónica and was named the first Chief Data Scientist at DataPop Alliance, an international non-profit organization created by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab and Overseas Development Institute devoted to leveraging Big Data to improve the world.

At the start of 2017 she joined Vodafone as Director of Data Science Research. She was also named an IEEE Fellow, recognizing her work in probabilistic models of human behavior and design of interactive intelligent systems. The same year she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Miguel Hernández of Elche. She also received the 2016 Ángela Ruiz Robles Spanish National Computer Science Award.

Media appearances

  • 1998: Presentation to Spanish Senate
  • 2001: Interview with El País: People never associate Spain with 'high tech'
  • 2004: Interview with El Pais: A Spaniard at the digital peak
  • 2005: Featured on La 2 (Spain) TV program "De cerca" [Close up]: "Conversation with Alicante native Nuria Oliver, research at Microsoft about the latest advances in artificial intelligence".
  • 2006: Interview with El País: Voyage to the center of Microsoft.
  • 2008: Speech in front of the King and Queen of Spain
  • 2010: Featured on TV program "Para todos" [For everyone] on La 2 (Spain)
  • 2012: TEDxRamblas Talk: The Invisible Army.
  • 2012: Radio Interview as an expert on Artificial Intelligence
  • 2013: TEDxBarcelona Talk: My cellphone, my partner.
  • 2013: Talk at WIRED 2013: What big data and the Mexican pandemic taught us.
  • 2014: Personal Data Monetization at MIT Technology Review, the Washington Post and other media.
  • 2014: Predicting crime using mobile data.
  • 2014: Interview by BBC: Ebola: Can big data analytics help contain its spread?
  • 2015: Interview with ARA: "We look at our phone because we are constantly rewarded"
  • 2015: Interview with Glamour magazine: "Women with success"
  • 2015: El Mundo: Predicting a crime using 'big data'
  • 2015: Interview for Barcelona Metropolis Magazine: Nothing in excess, including technology
  • 2015: Article for El Pais newspaper: The mobile phone sheds its skin
  • 2015: NBC news: Next thing your phone may detect: boredom
  • 2015: MIT Technology Review: Your smartphone can tell if you're bored
  • 2015: Fortune magazine: Your phone can tell when you're bored
  • 2015: RNE Radio 3: Interview to Nuria Oliver on Artificial Intelligence
  • 2015: Featured article for El Pais Sunday magazine: Nuria Oliver
  • 2016: RTVE 2: Interview with Nuria Oliver on Mobile Computing in "El cazador de cerebros" program
  • 2017: El Periódico de Catalunya: Nuria Oliver: Questioning the status quo
  • References

    Nuria Oliver Wikipedia