Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Kantwon Rogers smiling at the camera in a classroom.

Ph.D. Student Earns 2021 Focus Fellowship from Georgia Tech's Office of Minority Educational Development

School of Interactive Computing (IC) Ph.D. student Kantwon Rogers was awarded a 2021 Focus Fellowship by Georgia Tech’s Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED).

The award recognizes participants in the Focus Program who have demonstrated academic excellence, community leadership, and been granted admittance to a graduate program. The Focus Program aims to introduce minority students to graduate school in hopes of increasing the number who pursue higher degrees.

Rogers attended the Focus Program five years ago as an undergraduate student at Georgia Tech.

“It helped me learn about grad school and set me up for success,” Rogers said of the program.

The award, which carries a prize of up to $2,500 per student based on funds available and number of awardees, is not based on specific research but recognizes overall accomplishments. In an application essay, Rogers shared how OMED was pivotal to is success at Georgia Tech.

As an undergraduate, he participated in the Challenge Program, a five-week academic residential program for incoming first-year students. Later, he became a counselor in the same program, an OMED tutor, a Focus participant, a Focus panelist, and last summer a computer science (CS) instructor in the Challenge program.

“It was really spooky because I was teaching the new Challenge students in the exact same room that I sat in when I was learning CS for the first time in Challenge a decade ago,” Rogers said. “Truly full circle. OMED has truly been a foundation for me here at Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful.”

Rogers’ research focuses on human-robot interaction, investigating the effects that intelligent agent verbal deception has on human interaction.

“Animals deceive. Humans deceive. Should robots and AI deceive?” Rogers poses in his research tagline.

Additionally, the work aims to provide AI systems the ability to autonomously produce contextually meaningful and successfully deceptive utterances while determining when it is appropriate to verbally deceive humans.

He is advised by IC Chair Ayanna Howard.