With Professors Pattie Maes and Rosalind Picard
MIT Media Lab
Kristy Johnson is a PhD candidate in the Affective Computing research group at MIT, where she works at the intersection of neuroscience, engineering, and autism. In particular, she focuses on science and technology to improve the lives of individuals with complex neurodevelopmental differences, especially those with nonverbal autism and intellectual disabilities. Her research centers on personalized, naturalistic study paradigms; strengths-based research questions; and translational work extending from the lab to daily life. She combines techniques ranging from deep brain stimulation and fMRI neuroimaging to wearable biosensors and human-centered AI systems. Her most recent work has developed personalized machine learning models to interpret non-speech vocalizations from nonverbal individuals. This research connects fundamental questions (“What is verbal communication?”) to real-world solutions that can enrich the lives of neurodiverse individuals.