Foley Scholars 2013-2014


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The GVU Center honored the 2013-2014 Foley Scholars ​Jie Tan, Chris DeLeon and Iulian Radu along with the five Foley Finalists at the 6th Annual Foley Scholars Dinner on Oct. 30. Pictured L to R: Mason Bretan, Alexander Zook, Jie Tan, Chris DeLeon, Casey Fiesler and Caleb Southern (not pictured: Iulian Radu and Candace Brakewood).




GVU is pleased to announce the 2013-2014 Foley Scholars Finalists. This year's finalists were selected from an amazingly talented and diverse pool of 32 applicants, representing programs from across Georgia Tech. Finalists were selected for their research vision and the potential for impact for their work.

The Foley Scholars program is GVU's highest award for student excellence. We look forward to honoring these finalists, as well as the two who will selected as this year's Foley Scholars, at the Oct. 30 Foley Scholars Awards Dinner, sponsored by Microsoft Research.


2013-2014 Finalists:


Brakewood_0.pngCandace Brakewood: Technology for Public Transit

Candace Brakewood is a Ph.D. Candidate in Transportation Systems and is advised by Kari Watkins. Candace’s overarching research goal is finding ways to improve public transportation systems using new technologies – particularly information and communication technologies. Candace is currently working on the OneBusAway project (, a traveler information platform that provides real-time bus and train tracking information to transit riders through smartphone and web applications.  Candace’s research aims to quantify the impacts of OneBusAway on transit ridership, in order to determine if real-time information increases the frequency with which travelers make transit trips. She is conducting studies of the OneBusAway system in three American cities: Tampa, New York City, and Atlanta. Candace has dual Master’s of Science in Transportation and Technology Policy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to attending graduate school, Candace worked as a Patent Examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


Bretan_1.pngMason Bretan: Robotic and Human Musical Performances

Mason Bretan is a Ph.D. candidate in Music Technology and is advised by Gil Weinberg. His research focus is robotic musicianship which includes developing systems that interact with humans through musical scenarios. Using technology and artificial intelligence Mason aims to develop machines which can respond to human creativity in meaningful ways and even inspire humans to be creative, ultimately leading to novel and interesting artistic experiences. This entails the creation of computational models describing music perception, improvisation, and interaction. Mason earned his master's degree from Georgia Tech in 2012 and his bachelor's degree from UC San Diego in 2009.




DeLeon_0.pngChris DeLeon: Advancing the State of the Art in Digital Games

Chris Deleon is a Ph.D. student in Digital Media and is advised by Celia Pearce. Chris’s current research is focused on the differences between game design for digital games as compared to non-digital games, with an emphasis on how those differences may affect educational practices and professional discourse. His goal is to help more people get a handle on creating their own videogames in a way that better explores the affordances of the medium. Chris’s research vision is to redirect his work from serving as pure entertainment toward education, cultural enrichment, and better communicating obscure ideas. Chris earned his master’s degree in Digital Media from Georgia Tech in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon in 2007.




Fiesler_0.pngCasey Fiesler: Online Communities and Intellectual Property

Casey Fiesler is a Ph.D. candidate in Human-Centered Computing and is advised by Amy Bruckman. Armed with a law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, she studies the intersection of technology and copyright law. Casey is particularly interested in how the law - and perceptions of the law - impact creativity online, and her dissertation work focuses on social norms and knowledge about intellectual property in online communities of remixers. By focusing on an area where the law is notoriously gray, she is discovering how ordinary Internet users make complex decisions about legal concepts that can baffle even lawyers. Along with her law degree, Casey holds an master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgia Tech. Also interested in copyright advocacy, she has interned for Creative Commons and sits on the legal committee for the Organization for Transformative Works.



Radu_1.pngIulian Radu: Augmented Reality Experiences for Kids

Iulian Radu is a Ph.D. student in Human-Centered Computing and is advised by Blair MacIntyre. Iulian is researching how to design augmented-reality experiences that are suitable for young children, 6 years of age and older. In the AR community there are few "best practices" or guidelines for how to design AR experiences that are suitable for children of specific ages. The difficulty is that one AR design for a specific age group may not be suitable for another, because children develop over time and they have different capabilities and limitations due to their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. Iulian is developing approaches to determine how developmental psychology can help others to understand and improve AR designs for children.




Southern.pngCaleb Southern: Mobile System for Real-Time Driving Costs

Caleb Southern is a Ph.D. student in Human-Centered Computing, and is advised by Gregory Abowd. Caleb has developed a system to allow people to see the cost of each driving trip they take in real time. Caleb has found that the total cost of driving for many people is between 50 cents and one dollar per mile, including the depreciation of the vehicle, insurance, maintenance, and other factors (average annual cost to own and operate a vehicle in United States is $8K). He is studying how information technology can increase people's awareness of their transportation activities and influence their behavior. With his system, drivers can see the total cost of each trip as they arrive at their destination. People can also see historical data, and reflect on trends in their driving costs over time. Caleb is measuring people's reactions and changes in driving behavior in response to the cost information his system provides.



Tan.pngJie Tan: Computer Simulation to Real-Life Robotics Control of Bikes

Jie Tan is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and is advised by Karen Liu and Greg Turk. Jie develops computational tools that facilitate simulation of human and animal motion. He is currently studying how to teach a virtual human character to ride a bicycle in a physically simulated environment. His motivation behind the project: to advance a robotics-enabled future. Society envisions humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence becoming family members who will protect, cook, do laundry and even look after the elderly. One important step to realize this vision is to build robots that can actively learn - teaching a robot to ride a bicycle under various real-life situations is the ultimate goal of Jie’s work. Riding a bicycle is challenging for robots due to the inherently unstable dynamics. Controlling balance on a bike involves sophisticated and robust neuro-mechanical control, which is also vital for many other complicated robotic tasks and could be applied to their learning.




Alex Zook: Artificial Intelligence for Games With a Purpose

Alex Zook is a Ph.D. Candidate in Human-Centered Computing and is advised by Mark Riedl. Alex’s research investigates how artificially intelligent (AI) systems can augment the process of designing and developing games, specifically targeting data-driven design. Currently he is focusing on AI systems that automatically generate and improve games with a purpose (GWAPs). GWAPs are simple games that embed a computational process within a game design, enabling people to simultaneously play a game and perform some computational task or provide some real-world data. While a plethora of GWAPs have been created, the space of possible problems in which they might be used is rapidly growing. Developing AI systems that can automatically determine the appropriate GWAP design for a given target problem holds great promise to meet these needs for automated data collection or task execution. The projects Alex is pursuing are (1) employing AI for GWAPs used to gather real-world location-based information and (2) GWAPs for assessing individual personality traits. Ultimately Alex hopes this research will improve techniques for creating GWAPs to meet real-world needs and provide support to human game designers.



About the James D. Foley GVU Center Endowment

The James D. Foley GVU Center Endowment, established in 2007, is named for Dr. James D. Foley, professor and founder of the GVU Center at Georgia Tech. The award was established by Dr. Foley’s colleagues and GVU alumni to honor his significant contributions in the field of computing, his influence on the work of others, and his dedication to the development of new research directions. Since its inception, the 21-year-old GVU Center has impacted thousands of Georgia Tech students by providing opportunities for interaction with faculty, research projects, and educational programs associated with the center.

Funds from the Foley Endowment are used to support the students and research activities of the GVU Center, including the Foley Scholars Fellowships, awarded annually to two graduate students on the basis of personal vision, brilliance, and potential impact. Foley Scholars are selected by an advisory board comprised of GVU alumni, current faculty, and industry partners during the fall semester.

Foley Endowment Founders

Due to Georgia Tech policies, we can no longer take online donations.  To make a cash gift to the Foley Scholars Endowment Fund, make your check payable to the Georgia Tech Foundation Inc. and mail it to the following address:

Vivian Chandler
Corporate Relations
GVU Center at Georgia Tech
85 5th Street, NW.
Atlanta, GA  30332-0280

Please be sure to indicate on your check that the funds are designated for the Foley Scholars Endowment Fund.

If you have any questions, please contact Vivian Chandler – Office (404-385-1252) or e-mail (