Toronto Human-AI Interaction

Summer Research School

June 7 - August 15, 2021
June 7-11
June 14 - August 6
August 9-13

Design a Study

Collect and Analyze Data

Write and Present

Intensive Week 1

Intensive Week 2

Supervised Group Work on a Research Project

Daily Research Talks

Daily Research Skills Workshops

Time for Project Work

The schedule for Intensive Week 2 is now live!

Daily Research Talks

Daily Research Skills Workshops

Time for Project Work

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the THAI RS 2021 will take place online.

Welcome to the Toronto Human-AI Interaction summer research school!

The THAI RS program includes two weeks of intensives, separated by eight weeks dedicated to flexible work on group research projects.

Group Research Projects

Two Weeks of Intensives

Each day during the Weeks of Intensives includes a research keynote from one of the leading researchers in the area of human-AI interaction, a hands-on research skills workshop, and time for group work.


Accepted students are expected to attend and participate in all the daily activities. 


The daily participation during the Weeks of Intensives (June 7-11 and August 9-13) includes attendance of research talks (approximately an hour), participation in workshop activities (approximately 3 hours), and participation in group work sessions (approximately 2 hours).


By the end of the first Week of Intensives, each project group is expected to complete the research proposal, which includes the design of their study and an initial review of the related work. The groups will have a chance to work on their proposals during the workshops activities and dedicated group work sessions.


During the last Week of Intensives, each project is expected to be presented at the final symposium. 

Eight Weeks of Flexible Group Work

During the eight-week period between the Weeks of Intensives, each project group will work on its own schedule. Each group is expected to have bi-weekly meetings with their assigned research advisor for check-in and consultation. During this period, each group is expected to follow the progress schedule, determined by their research advisor.


The specific workload depends on each project group's decisions but can be expected to be approximately 4-5 hours a weekBy the end of this period, each project group is expected to complete the data collection (when applicable),  analysis of the collected data, and synthesis of the results.

Eligibility & Application

Eligibility: We invite applications from students who are currently enrolled (or were officially accepted) in a Master's program at any Canadian university. The types of invited programs include, but not limited to the areas of Information Science, Computer Science, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Psychology, Systems Design Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction.


I'm interested! How to Apply? Please see more details here.

Each accepted student will receive a Participant Honoraria of 500 CAD from the UofT iSchool.


Upon completion of the program, each student will receive a certificate of participation.

Master of Information students from the University of Toronto will additionally receive a reading course credit.

Application Deadline: April 27, 23:59 pm EST

Each project is performed in a group of 2-3 fellow summer school students. The groups are formed according to their topics of interest, chosen by each student during the application process, and based on the complementarity of the skills of group members. The groups are formed following the acceptance of a student to the THAI RS and prior to the first week of Intensives.


Each project is assigned a research advisor from our team of University of Toronto professors.


Each project is expected to result in a written report and will be presented by the project group at the symposium on the final week of intensives. Particularly successful projects might be invited for academic publication. 


Topic 1: Inferring Algorithmic Bias from Text Narratives in Child Welfare Systems

Description: Algorithms are used in child welfare systems all across the world to make decisions about children in foster care, in permanency and to provide government services. Recent research has found that current mandated algorithms that leverage risk assessments are biased in ways that have terrible outcomes for children. However, child welfare agencies are turning towards more holistic, strength-based risk assessments as a way to address this issue.   



  • use nlp/topic modeling techniques to understand how bias can be inferred from caseworker narratives.

  • interpret topic models to compare and contrast between algorithms that arise from risk assessments and holistic assessments

  • provide evidence-based recommendations to child welfare agencies that seek to augment human decision-making with algorithms, not supplant it. 

Topic 2: Designing Intelligent Systems to Combat Online Harassment

Description: Online communication and social media platforms are now plagued with various forms of harassment. This problem ranges from hateful social media posts to sexual harassment over messengers, and from deep-fake images to fake news. In this project, we intend to bring together the power of HCI and AI to design, develop, and evaluate systems that address these issues. 



  • Designing mobile and web systems

  • Natural Language processing (basic level)

  • User study

Topic 3: Interpretation of Sexism in Text: Humans vs. Machines 

Description: Interpretation of bias in text, e.g. sexism, is a nuanced process, which might depend both on the understanding of the phenomenon of bias itself, and on the underlying contextual assumptions about the text origins. The project under this topic would explore the differences in interpretations of sexism in text between machines and humans. This project, thus, is two-fold. First, it includes exploring the possibility for natural language processing (NLP) models to determine whether a given text is sexist and their ability to explain why. Second, the machine interpretations and explorations would need to be meaningfully compared to those of humans. 

Skills/Experiences/Interests (in any combination):

  • No experience with NLP is needed, but some experience with Python or R would be useful

  • Qualitative user research methods and/or experiment design

  • Knowledge of standardized tests for social bias or any related knowledge would be useful

Topic 4: Human-empowered nudges: recommending actions using explainable AI

Description: Nudges are suggestions made to influence human behaviors. For instance, a health and activity tracking device might suggest taking some time to breathe and relax when it detects that the heart rate of its users is unusually high. Behavioral economic studies have shown that nudges could have a tremendous positive impact on society. However, if not implemented carefully, nudges can also be considered condescending as they could send the following message to a recipient "You are too weak-minded and you don't have enough self-control [...] (to) do the right thing" [1]. We believe that transparent and explainable nudges are crucial in order to give the control back to the nudge recipients' hands. The goal of this project is to build a recommender system that can explain the underlying motive of the recommendations.



  • Study the link between data science (data mining, recommender systems, process mining), behavioral economics, and psychology.

  • Suggest a human-empowered recommender interface.

  • Implement an explainable recommender systems algorithm.

Topic 5: The Specifics of Interactions with Smart Speakers Among Older Adults  

Description: This project will investigate how older adults perceive the voices of the current smart speakers (e.g. Alexa, Google Home, etc.), including the users' preferences of voice characteristics and specifics and underlying mechanisms of interaction preferences. In particular, the aim of this project is to answer the question of whether smart speaker/voice assistants should have "senior-friendly" voice settings as an option.


One of the suggested directions for the project is to employ a series of design-oriented focus groups and/or participatory design sessions with older adults. Correspondingly, experience in user research in general, as well as these particular methods specifically, might be useful for those students, interested in this topic.  

CAD Participation Honoraria to Each Student


Timely Project Topics on Human-AI Interaction


Weeks of Group Work on Research Projects


Weeks of Research Talks and Hands-On Workshops


Our Team

Research Project Advisors:

Proud to bring outstanding researchers from the University of Toronto

Speakers and Workshop Instructors:



Application Period

April 7th - 27th

Acceptance Notifications

May 10th

Week 1 of Intensive

Monday, June 7th

Opening Ceremony & Orientation

Workshop 1: Literature Review with Holland Vasquez

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:30 pm, EST

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Tuesday, June 8th

Alex Williams

Workshop 2: Qualitative Methods in Human Research with Velian Pandeliev

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Wednesday, June 9th

Mahdi Hosseini

Workshop 3: Experiment as a Method in Human Research with Anastasia Kuzminykh

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Thursday, June 10th

Matt Ratto

Workshop 4: Statistical Jungles of Working with Quantitative Data with Viviane Herdel

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

12:30 pm - 3:30 pm, EST

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, EST

Friday, June 11th

Q. Vera Liao

Workshop 5: Analysis of Fuzzy Qualitative Data with Lev Poretski

Closing 1st Week of Intensives

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

12:30 pm - 3:30 pm, EST

4:00 pm - 4:30 pm, EST

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm, EST

Week 2 of Intensive

August 9th - 13th

Monday, August 9th

Opening Week 2

Joseph Jay Williams

Workshop 6: Preparing Research Talk with Malayna Bernstein

Group Work Session

10:30 am - 11:00 pm, EST

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Tuesday, August 10th

Tegan Rajkumar-Maharaj

Workshop 7: Visuals in Research Presentation with Rina R. Wehbe

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Wednesday, August 11th

Mike Schaekermann

Workshop 8: Writing I - the first page of CHI paper with Tony Tang

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

12:30 pm - 3:30 pm, EST

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm, EST

Thursday, August 12th

Jia Xue

Workshop 9: Writing II - structuring your narrative with Anastasia Kuzminykh

Group Work Session

11:00 am - 12:00 pm, EST

12:30 pm - 3:30 pm, EST

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, EST

Friday, August 13th

Research Symposium 

Closing Ceremony

11:00 am - 1:30 pm, EST

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm, EST

Apply for THAI RS 2021. See you soon!


Please prepare the following for your application process:

1) Your most recent CV/resume. Please submit as a .pdf file with the file name in format CV_LastnameFirstname.pdf

2) Your choice of at least 2 project topics (you will be prompted by the application form). Your preferences and experience will help us to form project groups. However, please note, that we cannot guarantee that, if accepted, you will be invited to one of the topics you identify.

3) A one-page research statement, describing your motivation to participate in the THAI RS, relevant experiences, interest in the chosen research school topics, and any other information you would like us to consider. The research statement should be submitted as a .pdf file with the file name in format RS_LastnameFirstname.pdf