Picture of Nuria Oliver

Nuria Oliver is a computer scientist with over 20 years of research experience in Artificial Intelligence, Human Computer Interaction and Mobile Computing at MIT, Microsoft Research, and as the first female Scientific Director at Telefonica R&D, the first Chief Data Scientist at DataPop Alliance and the first Director of Research in Data Science at Vodafone.

She graduated top of her class and top of Spain in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the ETSIT at the Universidad Politecnica of Madrid (UPM), Spain in 1994. She received her PhD degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, in June 2000. From July 2000 until November 2007, she was a researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. After 12 years in the US, she returned to Europe to co-create the Research organization at Telefonica R&D by creating and leading an internationally recognized industrial research team in Barcelona. She has been the first female Scientific Director at Telefonica. She is honored to be the first Spanish female computer scientist named a Distinguished Scientist of the ACM. She is also a Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence (eurAI) and an IEEE Fellow.

She has carried out foundational work in computational models of individual and aggregate human behavior using machine learning techniques, which has helped set the path for today’s intelligent systems. Her research has contributed to the development of intelligent multimodal interfaces, context-aware mobile computing applications, personalized services and Big Data for Social Good.

Her research interests include artificial intelligence, health monitoring, mobile computing, personal and big data analysis, statistical machine learning and data mining, ubiquitous computing, personalization, computational social sciences and human computer interaction.

Her passion is to have positive impact in the world through her research and to inspire others (particularly girls) to pursue careers in science and technology.

Nuria has published over 150 scientific papers in international conferences, journals and book chapters. Her work has been widely recognized by the scientific community with ~ 11000 citations . According to Google Scholar Nuria is one of the most cited female computer scientists in Spain . Nuria has ~40 patent applications and granted patents.

She has received a number of awards, including the European Digital Woman of the Year (2016), the Gaudi Gresol Award to the Excellence in Science and Technology (2016), the Spanish Ada Byron Award by the University of Deusto (2016), ACM ICMI 2014 10-year Technical Impact Award (2014), a Rising Talent Award by the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society (2009), MIT’s ‘TR100 Young Innovators Award’ (2004) and the First Spanish Award of EECS graduates (1994). Her publications have received 3 best paper awards (since 2012), 5 nominations to best paper award (since 2009) and a Special Mention Award from the Pattern Recognition Society as an outstanding publication (2000).

She also invests significant efforts to service for the scientific community as a regular member of the technical program committee of the top international conferences in her field, a member of the External Scientific Advisory Board of the DTIC at UPF, of the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Multimedia, Frontiers in Digital Health and Trends in HCI. She is a member of the ethics panel of Orange D4D (2015) and a member of the PhD thesis committee of several students.

She has held or will hold a co-chair role in 12 top-tier peer-reviewed international conferences since 2009, including technical program co-chair of IUI 2009 and of MIR 2010, general conference co-chair of UMAP 2011, industry-day co-chair of IJCAI 2011, track co-chair of ACM WWW 2013, track founder and co-chair in ACM MM 2014, demo chair of IEEE ICDM 2016, track chair of IEEE Mobile Data Management 2016, ACM Digital Health 2016, general conference co-chair of EAI Pervasive Health 2017, track co-chair of ACM Multimedia 2017.

She regularly gives invited talks about her research both for scientific and the general public. She has been a keynote speaker at IEEE EUSIPCO 2011, European Wireless Conference 2014, ACM and IEEE MODELS 2014, NTTS 2015, IEEE Int. Conf. on Data Science and Advanced Analytics 2015, ACM Digital Health 2015, ICEIS 2015, ACM CERI 2016 and IEEE Int Conf on Intelligent Environments 2016, among others.

She has spoken to government bodies and public institutions, including the Spanish Senate and the ITU, and has participated as an expert in several panels organized by the European Commission, the GSMA, the OECD/PARIS21, United Nations and the Royal Statistical Society, among others.

From a societal perspective, Nuria has a passion for making science and technology available to the general public and to inspire future generations –and especially girls - to study STEM disciplines. She devotes significant effort to this purpose. She has given invited talks to large audiences –including two TEDx talks and a WIRED talk —and to thousands of teenagers as part of Catalonia’s Science Week and the Ingenious! European project. She is part of the jury of several STEM related initiatives, including the STEM challenge, the I national inter-school competition in robotics and programming in Spain, and the MIT TR35 Young Innovator award (Spanish and Colombian editions). 

Education is a key pillar to ensure that future generations are prepared to contribute to the society of the future. Hence, she has co-organized the first TEDxBarcelona event devoted to emerging education with over 1400 participants, and the first Social Thinking course in Spain with ~200 participants. She has also made a proposal in several schools for a computer science curriculum since kindergarten and has written about the concept of digital erudites in contrast to the fallacy of digital natives. 

Her work has been featured over 100 times in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations both in Spain and internationally, including BBC News, WIRED, MIT Technology Review, The Economist, El PAIS, el Mundo, National Public Radio (NPR), ABC Good Morning America, RTVE, RNE, Actualidad Economica, TechCrunch, The Guardian. She has been a technology writer for Tecno2000 magazine and ‘El Pais’ newspapers, among others. Her 2015 article on the future of mobile phones is in the top 10 most read technology articles in EL PAIS in 2015.

She has been featured in Glamour magazine as 'one of the top female directors in Spain' (2015), in EL PAIS Sunday magazine as one of a few 'female directors in technology' (2012), named Rising Talent by the Women's Forum for Economy & Society (October 2009), one of the ' 13 most influential young women in Spain ' (MujerHoy Magazine, 2012), one of ' 100 leaders of the future ' by Capital Magazine (May 2009) and one of the 'Generation XXI: 40 Spanish youngsters that will make news in the Third Millenium ' by EL PAIS (2000).

She is proficient in multiple foreign languages and studied classical ballet for 12 years. She is happily married and is the proud mother of 3 children. Her hobbies have included traveling, cinema, art, classical music, yoga, Formula Dodge racing, dance and swimming.

Short Biography

Nuria Oliver, is Director of Research in Data Science at Vodafone and Chief Data Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance.  She has over 20 years of research experience in the areas of human behavior modeling and prediction from data and human-computer interaction. She holds a PhD in perceptual intelligence from MIT. She worked as a researcher at Microsoft Research for over 7 years and as the first female Scientific Director at Telefonica R&D for over 8 years. At the end of 2016 she was named Chief Data Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance and in early 2017 she also joined Vodafone as the first Director of Research in Data Science.

Her work is well known with over 150 scientific publications that have received more than 11000 citations and a ten best paper award nominations and awards. She is co-inventor of 40 filed patents and she is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences.

Nuria’s work and professional trajectory has received several awards, including the MIT TR100 (today TR35) Young Innovator Award (2004), the Rising Talent award by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society (2009) and the European Digital Woman of the Year award (2016). She has been named “an outstanding female director in technology” (El PAIS, 2012), one of “100 leaders for the future” (Capital, 2009) and one of the “40 youngsters who will mark the next millennium” (El PAIS, 1999). She became an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2016, a Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence in 2016 and an IEEE Fellow in 2017.

 Her passion is to improve people’s quality of life, both individually and collectively, through technology. She is also passionate about scientific outreach. Hence, she regularly collaborates with the media (press, radio, TV) and gives non-technical talks about science and technology to broad audiences, and particularly to teenagers, with a special interest on girls.

Twitter: @nuriaoliver