Dr. Simone Ashby is a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Madeira and a Research Fellow at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute. Dr. Ashby served as Director of the dual Master's degree program in Human Computer Interaction with the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute and Carnegie Mellon University from 2013-2016. She is currently the Innovation Coordinator and authoring member of a €2M Horizon 2020 project to create a network of inclusive, ICT and text-to-speech enhanced, low power FM radio platforms for citizen engagement low power community radio stations in Ireland, Portugal, and Romania (Grassroot Wavelengths, nº780890, review score: 15/15). Over the next three years, in addition to steering this project's innovation efforts across partnering institutions, she will also be leading a team (speech engineering postdoc and PhD students) and working with the partnering development firm CereProc to develop new localized text-to-speech (TTS) voices and integrate CereProc's state-of-the-art technologies and other ICT components into the RootIO architecture, thereby expanding network broadcast capabilities to include RSS and text-based content (weather reports, shipping forecasts, emergency information, local buy and sell notices, etc.), and extending the power and accessibility of micro-stations. Dr. Ashby is also also currently co-leading a €200K MAC 2014-2020 project to develop a civic media infrastructure for autonomy and resilience on remote islands in Macaronesia (Alert4You), including the co-supervision of a postdoctoral researcher and Cape Verdean fieldwork apparatus.
Additional more small-scale LARSyS funded projects for which Dr. Ashby is the PI or co-PI include:
- Words in Freedom, a design project aimed at artists, activists, and others that draws from research on the manifesto to create a studio environment or ‘Manifesto Machine’.
- North Circular, a design fiction project and future scenario-based interactive public art installation that invites participants to navigate an urban environment built from geolocated big data fragments exposing the political, social, and consumer behaviour of a fictitious populace.
- Citizen X, focused on leveraging crowdsourcing in urban environments, geospatial annotation, social curation, and engaging citizens through social media applications and community-aware, place-based computing systems design of a holistic community engagement platform for a people's GIS (geographical information system) for enhanced urban liveability.
Prior to joining M-ITI, Dr. Ashby coordinated an FCT project for maintaining and improving the Portal da Língua Portuguesa online lexical knowledge base (www.portaldalinguaportuguesa.org). She was also the author and coordinator of the FCT supported R&D project 'The Portuguese Unisyn Lexicon (LUPo): An accent-independent pronunciation lexicon for Portuguese' for developing an accent-independent lexicon and rule system for generating accent-specific phonetic transcriptions for regional variants of Portuguese.
In her PhD dissertation, she describes the interaction between speech production and different listener-orientated modes of communication. Dr. Ashby was also involved in a project using finite state methods to develop and evaluate multilingual phonotactic descriptions. Just after completing her PhD, she worked as a Research Associate for the Augmented Multiparty Interaction (AMI) project at the University of Edinburgh, where she developed gesture annotation schemes for head and hand movements and managed a 100-hour multimodal corpus. She also has experience maintaining and augmenting a set of extensive lexical, ontological, and semantic databases for a natural language search engine (InQuizit Technologies, USA).