Natalie Parde

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My primary research interests lie in several areas:


Below, I provide a brief overview of the ongoing and previous projects in which I’ve been involved; for additional details, refer to the relevant papers listed (if applicable) or feel free to send me a message. My recent work has been conducted in UIC’s Natural Language Processing Laboratory, which I co-direct. Most of my earlier research was conducted in UNT’s Human Intelligence and Language Technologies Laboratory.



Healthcare Applications

My work at the intersection of natural language processing and healthcare focuses primarily on aspects of cognition, health behavior, and caregiver support. My current and past collaborators in this area include researchers from UIC, UI Health, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of North Texas.  

In my group’s work towards cognitive assessment, we develop automated language-based approaches for course- and fine-grained dementia detection, predicting both diagnostic status and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores based on speech and language patterns in transcribed speech samples. Some of our recent publications in this area include:


In my group’s project collaborating with researchers in UIC’s CPERL group, we are investigating ways to support caregivers of children with pediatric rehabilitation needs through the development of smart and connected tools for equitable early intervention service design. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation and involves the development of novel techniques for dialogue systems and caregiver strategy classification. Some papers describing more about aspects of the project background include:


Class Example Description
No SD 1) I wish you all the strength x.
2) Cheers and happy new year!
No disclosure of medical issue.
Possible SD 1) I’m not angry, I’m not even sad as such, I’m just tired…
2) I do think my rib pain is from bad posture. I have worked at a computer for years.
General, non-specific mention of or allusion to medical issue.
Clear SD 1) Metoprolol gave me the most horrendous headaches, so I had my doctor take me off.
2) I did the ultrasound a couple times now since this started 2 yrs ago I’d like to find a good ortho doc.
Clear disclosure of specific symptom, diagnosis, and/or treatment.

In my group’s work pertaining to medical self-disclosure in online communities, we created a dataset of health-related forum posts, annotated for self-disclosure status, and established a performance benchmark for automatically detecting medical self-disclosure. More information about this project, including details for accessing the dataset, can be found here:

  • Mina Valizadeh, Pardis Ranjbar-Noiey, Cornelia Caragea, and Natalie Parde. Identifying Medical Self-Disclosure in Online Communities. In the Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies (NAACL 2021). Online, June 6-11, 2021.


A robot sitting on a couch, reading a book.

In my earlier work towards providing cognitive support, I developed a human-robot book discussion system, implemented using NAO robots. The robots generated questions about novel metaphors automatically identified in fiction literature, which they used as the basis for conversation. Some publications regarding this project include:




My work in multimodal natural language processing has primarily centered on language and vision. My group investigates numerous topics falling under this umbrella, recently including visual storytelling and the detection of misogynistic memes. Papers addressing these topics can be found here:


A robot standing in front of a white surface containing a variety of household objects.

In my earlier work, I focused on grounded language learning, which seeks to model language leveraging non-linguistic experience in additional to more traditionally-examined word co-occurrence. I implemented a human-robot guessing game using NAO robots that facilitated language learning through interactive gameplay. Some publications regarding this project include:



Creative Language

My work on creative language has primarily focused on metaphor and sarcasm processing. In the context of metaphor processing, I have specifically examined automated detection of metaphor novelty—that is, the distinction between conventionalized and novel metaphor usage. I created a large, publicly available dataset of syntactically-related word pairs labeled for metaphor novelty on a continuous scale, and performed a series of experiments to establish proof-of-concept for the task as well as a performance benchmark. Some publications regarding this work include the following:


In my work on sarcasm detection, I developed a domain-general approach that distinguished between sarcasm and other forms of emotional communication in Twitter and Amazon product reviews. Some papers describing this work include:



Other Prior Research

In addition to my main areas of interest, I have previously collaborated with cybersecurity and cognitive science researchers on several projects. My research group has conducted a small amount of work on video generation, finance, and reproducibility, and as an undergraduate I was part of the team developing UNTANGLED, an award-winning online game that sought to harness human intuition to solve real-world hardware mapping problems by abstracting them as puzzles. More details about all of these projects can be found on my publications page.