Keynote speakers

Simon Baron-Cohen

4th of September


Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is Director, Autism Research Centre (ARC) in Cambridge. He has a degree in Human Sciences from New College, Oxford, a PhD in Psychology from UCL, and an M.Phil in Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, and he held lectureships in these departments. He is author of Mindblindness, The Essential Difference, Prenatal Testosterone in Mind, and Zero Degrees of Empathy. He has edited scholarly anthologies including Understanding Other Minds, Synaesthesia, and The Maladapted Mind. He has written books for parents and teachers including Autism and Asperger Syndrome: The Facts, and Teaching Children with Autism to Mindread. He has celebrated autism in An Exact Mind. He is author of the DVDs Mind Reading and The Transporters, to help children with autism learn emotion recognition, both nominated for BAFTA awards. He is author of >450 scientific articles. He has supervised 32 PhD students.
In 1985 Baron-Cohen formulated and went on to test the ‘mindblindness’ theory of autism. In 1997, he formulated and went on to test the ‘fetal sex steroid’ theory of autism. He has also made contributions to the fields of autism prevalence and screening, autism genetics, autism neuroimaging, autism and technical ability, typical cognitive sex differences, and synaesthesia. In 1999 Baron-Cohen created the first UK clinic for adults with suspected Asperger Syndrome, called the CLASS clinic (Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service), at a time when the National Health Service (NHS) did not see the clinical need for this. This has helped over 1,000 patients to have their disability recognized, the “lost generation” of adults who had missed out on diagnosis in childhood, and has been used to create a model for similar clinical services all over the UK.

Baron-Cohen has received awards from the British Psychological Society (BPS) (Spearman Medal); the American Psychological Association (McCandless Award); the BPS (May Davison Award); the Autism Award Philadelphia Autism Association/Princeton University; the Presidents’ Award (BPS); the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA), Joseph Lister Lecturer; the Lifetime Achievement Award, MENSA; and Kanner-Asperger Medal (German Society for Research into Autism). He is a Fellow of the BPS, the British Academy, and the American Psychological Association. He is Vice-President of the National Autistic Society, Autism Anglia, and was President, Psychology Section of the British Association and Vice-President, International Society for Autism Research (INSAR). He was Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group for Autism (Adults), is Scientific Advisor or Patron to 6 autism charities, and a member of the Department of Health Program Board, Autism Strategy. He is Chair of the Psychology Section of the British Academy. He is co-editor in chief of the journal Molecular Autism and on the Editorial Board of many journals, including the Lancet Psychiatry. He is an Andrew D White Professor-At-Large, Cornell University, and received Doctor of Science degrees from Roehampton University and Abertay University. He is President-Elect of INSAR and an National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator.

Lisa Feldman Barrett

5th of September

Lisa Feldman Barrett
Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory (IASLab) at Northeastern University, with research appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research focuses on the nature of emotion from both psychological and neuroscience perspectives. Dr. Barrett has been called “the most important affective scientist of our time” and “the deepest thinker on since Darwin” and has been honored with election to numerous scientific societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Barrett is a prolific scientist, publishing over 200 peer reviewed scientific papers and she has edited five scientific volumes, including the 4th edition of the Handbook of Emotion, published by Guilford Press. Her research has been called “groundbreaking,” “inspirational,” and “transformative,” and has been continuously funded by the US National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation for over 20 years. She has received numerous research awards, including a Director’s Pioneer Award from the US National Institutes of Health for transformative research. She has also received awards for her service, including the 2018 Lifetime Mentor Award from the Association for Psychological Science and the Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science from the American Psychological Association. In 2019, she will serve as president of the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. Barrett educates the public about emotion and neuroscience, with articles in the New York Times, Popular Science, Nautilus, Cosmo, and Time Magazine (for a full list, see Her TED talk, published in January 2018, has been viewed over 2M times. Her research has been discussed in over 200 pieces published on major media outlets, including on NPR, NBC, and Invisibilia, and in The Wall Street Journal, WIRED magazine and Time magazine. Dr. Barrett educates lawyers, judges and other legal actors about emotion, neuroscience and the law as part of her work for the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, and in 2007, she testified before US Congress in support of basic behavioral research. Her popular science book, How emotions are made: The secret life of the brain, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017, and was described as “brilliant and original”, “mind blowing”, and “a delight to read.”

Thomas Ploetz

Date: 6th of September

Thomas Ploetz
Thomas Ploetz is a computer scientist with expertise and almost 15 years of experience in Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning research (Ph.D. from Bielefeld University, Germany). His research agenda focuses on applied machine learning, that is developing systems and innovative sensor data analysis methods for real world applications. Primary application domain for his work is computational behavior analysis where he develops methods for automated and objective behavior assessments in naturalistic environments. Main driving functions for his work are “in the wild” deployments and as such the development of systems and methods that have a real impact on peoples’ lives.

In 2017, Dr. Ploetz joined the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he works as an associate professor. Prior to this, he was an academic at the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K., where he was a reader (associate professor) for Computational Behavior Analysis affiliated with Open Lab, Newcastle’s interdisciplinary center for research in digital technologies.