23rd November 2023

ISSAI Researcher Zhanat Makhataeva Defended her PhD Thesis 

SEDS PhD student in Robotics Engineering and ISSAI researcher Zhanat Makhataeva successfully defended her PhD Thesis on Augmented Reality-Based Human Memory Enhancement Using Artificial Intelligence. Zhanat delivered her PhD Thesis Defense Presentation on 23 November 2023 online. Zhanat’s doctoral studies were also supported by the tech giant Microsoft through the Microsoft Research Fellowship. 

Zhanat’s human memory augmentation system (ExoMem) combines advances in Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence to create an external representation of objects placed along the three floors of the research building on the campus of Nazarbayev University. This thesis paves the way for the development of AR-based assistive technologies for individuals with memory impairments (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) and cognitive assistive systems capable of decreasing the cognitive load and increasing human performance during tasks that require human spatial object location memory. The topics covered in the thesis include augmented reality, cognitive assistive systems, artificial intelligence, human memory augmentation, cognitive ergonomics, system test and evaluation, and human information processing concerns. 

Zhanat’s PhD supervisor is Prof. Huseyin Atakan Varol, ISSAI Founding Director and Department Chair of Robotics Engineering. Her internal co-supervisor is Prof. Anara Sandygulova, Associate Professor in Robotics Engineering at Nazarbayev University. Her external co-supervisors are Prof. Erdem Erdemir, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Director of Graduate Studies at Tennessee State University (United States), and Dr. Cecily Morrison Senior Principal Research Manager at Microsoft Research Cambridge (United Kingdom). 

The defense was chaired by Prof. Michele Folgheraiter, Associate Professor of Robotics Engineering at NU. The examination committee included Prof. Matteo Rubagotti,  Associate Professor of Robotics Engineering (NU), and Dr. Juan Antonio Corrales Ramón from the University of Santiago de Compostela and CiTIUS Laboratory (Spain). The defense was attended by an online audience of over 50. Associate Provost for Graduate Studies Prof. Luis Ramón Rojas-Solórzano also attended the event.

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