Katerina Pastra is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Language and Speech Processing (ILSP), Athena Research Center, since 2020. She founded and directed for a decade-long (2010-2020) the Cognitive Systems Research Institute (CSRI), a highly interdisciplinary research organization focusing on multimodal cognition, embodied language processing and multisensory perception, the activities of which have now been integrated in ATHENA RC. Her research comprises theoretical contributions, experimental findings and technology development in semantics and cognition. In particular, she employs neuroscientific findings on how the human brain works to develop software that intelligent systems and cognitive robots to understand natural language and correlate it to what they perceive/sense and what they do.
Since a post-doc, Katerina acquired and coordinated her own basic research and development projects, such as the European-funded POETICON series projects which run for more than seven years, with an international & interdisciplinary consortium. Among others, she is the recipient of a distinguishing John Latsis Foundation Award for research in Cross-media Semantics in Newspaper Caricatures, a Google Award for AAAI-event organization on vision-language Integration technologies and a Best Paper Award by the British Computer Society on applied multimodal technology for Crime Scene Investigation. Her teaching experience involves teaching in the U.K and in Greece at a post-graduate level (MSc programmes in Computer Science, Data Science, Language Technology); the courses include ‘Language and Cognitive Robotics’, ‘Natural Language Processing’, ‘Search Engines and Web Mining’, and ‘Human-Computer Interaction and Graphical Interfaces’.
She has published a number of papers in international conferences and journals, including a Nature paper on large-scale verbal elicitation of object affordances and co-speech gestures and a Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B paper on the Minimalist Grammar of Action. She is an associate editor in Interaction Studies and Cognitive Computation and Systems and an experienced R&D project and proposal reviewer. She has been an invited speaker in a number of venues, most notably at TED-X and the European Parliament and has been invited to contribute to a number of international innovation Think-Tanks. Katerina is an advocate of Open Science; with her lab members, she has developed 14 open access datasets and 4 open source pieces of software. She is a senior IEEE member, head of the ATHENA R.C. Researchers Union and member of the ATHENA Gender Equality Committee through which she contributes to promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the research ecosystem.