• Associate Professor
  • Smith College
  • Department of
  • Computer Science


My research uses cognitive artificial intelligence systems as tools to better understand the flexible representations of thinking and reasoning in the human mind. Specifically, our work draws a distinction between structures of thought from structures of language, and explores the content of non-linguistic and iconic mental imagery representations of embodied cognition. These representations are frequently decompositions consisting of complex combinations of abstract conceptual primitives and image schemas that engender rich manipulations and mappings to language.

Decoupling non-linguistic representations from language engenders rich and flexible and mappings, and we frequently study representations in systems that understand or generate language and narratives. We also explore their intersections with scene understanding, computer vision, robotics, commonsense reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, and learning. Our systems are by and large "symbolic" systems built by humans by hand in safe, controlled, ethical, and sustainable environments. We prefer qualitative evaluations of human participants over leaderboard rankings.


* I am excited to announce that have been awarded a grant from the Toyota Research Institute as part of their Young Faculty Researcher program. The grant will provide about $500K of funding for my research over the next two years. I and a number of Smith students and alums will be collaborating on research projects with members of the Machine-Assisted Cognition group at TRI. Here's a link to a Grécourt Gate story with more info.

* I was a guest recently on an episode of the TWIML AI podcast.

* I am spending a second year as a visiting scholar at MIT CSAIL, participating in the MIT Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars Program. I am honored to have Gerald Sussman, the Genesis Group, and CSAIL's Cognitive AI CoR as my hosts. You can find a recording of my MIT MLK Scholar Luncheon talk here: https://youtu.be/a0LvwYXi8xo.

* Our paper "A Broader Range for ‘Meaning the Same Thing’: Human Against Machine on Hard Paraphrase Detection Tasks" was presented at at The Eighth Annual Conference on Advances in Cognitive Systems (ACS-2020). A YouTube video of the talk is here. I also served on an ACS-2020 panel discussion entitled "How to Prepare the Next Generation of Cognitive Systems Researchers".


We are recruiting undergraduate and graduate students for research assistantships and other research collaboration opportunities. Please contact me if you are hard-working, self-starting, and interested in these topics.


  • Spring 2021, CS390: AI Seminar: Natural Language Understanding
  • Fall 2020, CS231: Microprocessors & Assembly Language
  • Spring 2019, CS330: Seminar in Database Systems
  • Spring 2019, CS256: Intelligent User Interfaces
  • Fall 2018, CS390: AI Seminar: Natural Language Understanding
  • Fall 2018, CS252: Algorithms


I am an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Smith College, an adjunct professor at UMass Amherst CICS, and an affiliate of MIT CSAIL. Previously my title was Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professor of Health Sciences in the School of Engineering at Fairfield University. In 2018 I was named Graduate Teacher of the Year at Fairfield University by Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society. I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA, and I am a member of the ACM, AAAI, IEEE, and HFES.

[ Publications | CV ]


  • Email:
  • jamie.macbeth [at] gmail.com

  • Mail (Smith):
  • Department of
  • Computer Science
  • Clark Science Center
  • Smith College
  • Northampton MA 01063
  • Office (Smith):
  • Ford Hall Room 252