Women in Computing – Maithilee Kunda

Ph.D. student, Computer Science, School of Interactive Computing


Maithilee's research interests lie at the intersection of computing and cognitive science, specifically in the areas of autism, visual thinking, and information-processing accounts of cognition. Working with Professor Ashok Goel in the Design and Intelligence Lab, she founded the "Visual Thinking in Autism" (VITA) project, which was heavily inspired by Temple Grandin, Bob Morris and other "visual thinkers" on the autism spectrum.  The VITA project seeks to explore whether certain individuals on the spectrum may have a bias towards thinking visually, with the goal of improving understanding of, communication with and education for people with autism. Maithilee's work encompasses human behavioral studies as well as computational models of cognition, and she is currently investigating how purely visual solution strategies can successfully solve Raven's Progressive Matrices, which is a standardized test of general intelligence that may prove to be a unique and important measure of cognitive performance for individuals with autism.


  • American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Visual Representations and Reasoning workshop co-chair 2010
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship, 2009 - present
  • School of Interactive Computing PhD Student Research Excellence Commendation, 2008
  • NDSEG Graduate Fellowship, 2006 - 2009
  • Global Change Education Program Scholar, 2004-2006

Visit Maithilee's website