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The Second International Summer School on Animal-Centered Computing

The Second International Summer School on Animal-Centered Computing

ACC Summer School


19-22 July , 2021

19 - 22 July, 2021

DUE TO COVID-19, THE ACC is going virtual again.

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ACC is Sponsored by the Electrotechnical University of "LETI" , the Research Authority of the University of Haifa and Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space


Animal-Centered Computing (ACC) brings together researchers and practitioners across computing, engineering, veterinary, and behavioral disciplines to promote synergistic interactions that advance hardware, software, and methodologies for technological systems that promote use by, and with, animals.
A partial focus list of areas of ACC includes, but is not limited to:

Developing technological solutions for improving animal welfare and well-being
Developing technological solutions that enable more effective and efficient communication between human and non-human animal species
Using new and existing technologies to improve our understanding of animal behavior, communication, health and welfare

Advancing the fields of animal science, animal behavior and veterinary science

Supporting animals in tasks they perform in our society

The First International ACC Summer School was organized by the University of LETI and the University of Haifa and was held virtually in August 2020. It aimed to introduce and engage students from both technological and animal-related backgrounds in the exciting new discipline that focuses on animals at the center of computing system design and development. 

More than 40 participants from 13 countries participated in the guest talks, activities, and discussions.

This year we plan to have a second edition of the summer school, with a special theme: Emotional State Recognition.


The aims of the second summer school are twofold:

Like in the previous year, promote the education of students with technical and biological backgrounds for working on the challenges related to animal understanding, welfare, and well-being.

Serve also as a platform for creating a network of researchers from different backgrounds interested in the recognition of body language and emotions of animals.

In light of the above, we plan to have two types of activities:

Introductory: aimed mainly for students and other interested participants, covering basic topics in ACC:

  • Introduction to animal welfare, behavior, cognition, emotional states, neurology.

  • Introduction to AI and how it can promote our understanding of animal behavior.

  • Introduction to animal-computer interaction and design with and for animals.

  • Introduction to the study of human-animal relationships.

The students will have interactive meetings with mentors and will participate in a hackathon for developing a technological solution for a problem from the animal world under the mentoring of experts.

Advanced: aimed for researchers aiming to get an in-depth understanding of specific topics. This year our focus will be on emotion analysis: 


Note that participation in the workshop requires a separate registration! 

Daniel Metcalfe
Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Daniel is a designer, design researcher and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion. His PhD, from the University of the Arts London, titled Multispecies Design, looked at design processes that respond to the needs of wild animals within built environments and design’s role in human-animal interactions.
Daniel divides his time between working as a designer and planner - introducing animal perspectives into landscape architecture projects, and the Technion where he teaches and researches topics of social design, nature-centred design, product-service systems, human-animal interactions and somatic design.
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Eleonora Nannoni
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy
Eleonora Nannoni works as a senior researcher at the Vet School of the University of Bologna (Italy). Over the years, she worked on animal behavior, minimally-invasive techniques for assessing animal welfare, environmental enrichment, rearing conditions, welfare during transport, and consumer perception of animal-friendly products. Bologna is close to Parma, and that’s the reason why her research, which is focused on animal welfare, often explores the relationships between pig welfare (Italian heavy pigs intended for the production of traditional
products, such as Parma ham) and the quality of animal-derived products.
She graduated in Veterinary Medicine in 2008 and holds a PhD in “Food Science, Animal Nutrition and Food Safety” achieved in 2013. Since 2016 she is a European Veterinary Specialist (Diplomate) at the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioral Medicine, subspecialty Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law(ECAWBM-AWSEL).
David Roberts
North Carolina State University, NC, US
David L. Roberts received the B.A. degree in computer science and mathematics from Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, USA, in 2003, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA, in 2010. He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science and the Interim Director of the Digital Games Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA. He has a particular focus on computation as a tool to provide insight into human and non-human animal behavior in narrative, virtual world, and game environments. His laboratory regularly works with leading non-profit service animal and animal welfare organizations to bring the power of algorithms and analytics to bear on the challenging problems of understanding (human and non-human) animal behavior. His research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning, social and behavioral psychology, and human–computer interaction. Dr.  Roberts is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and Association for Computing Machinery.
Mark Hansen
University of Bristol, UK
Dr Mark Hansen is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Machine Vision at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a joint venture between UWE Bristol and Bristol University. He spent 10 years in industry as a software engineer before returning to academia in 2008 and  gaining his PhD entitled "3D Face Recognition using Photometric Stereo". Currently, his main research interests lie in designing image acquisition systems, image processing, machine learning and bringing state of the art developments into the field via robust commercial prototypes. His work spans many fields from security to medicine, but in recent years his focus has shifted to agri-tech where recent projects have included "Herdvision", a 3D vision system for welfare monitoring of dairy cows; "Grassvision", which detects broad leaf weeds in pasture and most recently, a deep learning face recognition system for pigs that has been extended to stress detection via facial expressions.
Dirk van der Linden
Northumbria University, UK
Dirk is a Lecturer with the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Northumbria University and co-founder of the Tech4Animals lab. His work intersects the human side of requirements engineering, cyberpsychology, and animal-computer interaction, focusing on how interspecies information systems emerge through the use of technology for animals, and how we can better engineer them. His ACI work has been published in leading software and information systems engineering venues, and he lectures on the challenges of engineering technology for animals in the UK and abroad.
Sarah-Elisabesh Byosiere 
Thinking Dog Center, CUNY, US
Dr. Byosiere is the Director of the Thinking Dog Center and Assistant Professor at CUNY Hunter College where she focuses on studying the behavior and cognition of domestic dogs and other canids. She began her career at the University of Michigan where she studied the function of the play bow in adult pet dogs throughout her undergraduate and master’s degrees. She has worked at various canine cognition and behavior research groups including the Duke Canine Cognition Center, the Clever Dog Lab and the Wolf Science Center. Dr. Byosiere earned her PhD at La Trobe University in Australia within the Anthrozoology Research Group. Her dissertation focused on canine visual perception, specifically evaluating whether or not dogs are susceptible to geometric illusions. At the Thinking Dog Center, her work has expanded to include applied research topics, including dog training methodologies and sheltering practices.
Clara Mancini
Senior Lecturer in Interaction Design, Open University’s School of Computing and Communications
Clara Mancini is Professor of Animal-Computer Interaction at The Open University’s School of Computing and Communications, where she heads the Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) Laboratory. The ACI Lab was funded in 2011 to research the interaction between animals and technology; to design interactive systems that improve animals’ welfare, support their activities and improve interspecies relationships; and to develop animal-centred approaches to inform the design of interactive technology for and with animals. Clara has led and supervised several ACI projects, including ubiquitous and ambient interfaces for mobility assistance and medical detection dogs, interactive enrichment for captive elephants, and wearable animal biotelemetry. She is interested in the design, methodological and ethical aspects of ACI and has published and lectured extensively on related topics.
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Robert Young
School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, Manchester, UK
Professor Rob Young has a degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham (1989) and was awarded a PhD in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh (1993). Most of his research is concerned with using animal behaviour to answer questions in animal conservation and animal welfare.  In terms of research he divides his time between field research (mainly in Brazil) and animal welfare research (in the UK and Brazil).  He is the author of more than 120 full scientific papers and of the book, Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals.  Presently, he is Professor of Animal Conservation at the University of Salford in the UK.
Anna Zamansky  
Information Systems Department, University of Haifa, Israel
Anna has a PhD in Computer Science from Tel Aviv University. After spending two years at the Technical University of Vienna as a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow, she joined the Information Systems Department at the University of Haifa. She is head of the Tech4Animals lab, a multi-disciplinary research group that develops animal-centered technology for improving animal welfare and supporting animal science, and collaborates with numerous research groups and organizations.
Ilyena Hirsky-Douglas
University of Glasgow, UK
Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas is a Lecturer of Animal-Computer Interaction at the University of Glasgow.  She has studied and built novel systems for animals for over ten years speaking internationally on methods and theories behind animals interacting with computer-enabled systems. Her contribution to the field focuses on developing novel methods for dogs and monkeys to control computer systems in their home environment questioning what interaction looks like for animals. Ilyena also focuses on creating and designing animal-to-animal internet systems and is interested in what the future of animal-computing looks like when animals can choose when and where to access computers and connect to each other.
Amos Bouskila  
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Amos heads the Behavioral Ecology Lab at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. During his MSc at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Amos studied the large herbivorous desert lizard, Uromastyx aegyptius. He went on to do the PhD at the Univ. of California, Davis, on the interactions between desert rodents and their snake predators. During the post-doc at Simon Fraser Univ. in Vancouver Amos explored Game-theory models of predators and prey. For many years the Behavioral Ecology Lab focused on the study of predator-prey interactions, reptile and mammal ecology and the conservation of their habitats. Tools include observations in the field, lab work and mathematical models to understand decision making in animals.

During the last 12 years Amos entered new projects that deal with behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild Equids - the Asian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus) that was reintroduced in the Negev Desert and horses that live in the wild in Europe. During last sabbaticals Amos initiated studies on behavior, social network and movement of Konik horses in the Netherlands and the social life and movement of Retuertas horses in southern Spain.  The implications from the studies of horses in the wild are now implemented in studies of social networks, agonistic interactions and movements of domestic horses, aiming to improve the welfare of horses.

Evgenia Novikova
Department of Information Systems, Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI" 
Evgenia Novikova is associate professor of Information Systems department at Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI". Her research interests include security visual analytics, security and privacy risk assessment and malware analysis.
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Dr. McKenzie splits his time between clinical duties in veterinary medicine and serving as Director of Veterinary Medicine for LOYAL, a San Francisco-based biotechnology company research aging and therapies to improve lifespan and health-span in dogs. Dr. McKenzie also manages the SkeptVet Blog and associated social media outlets, including a series of science-based pet health videos on YouTube, contributing also to the popular Science-based Medicine blog.
Firat Guder
Imperial College London, UK
Dr Firat Güder is a senior lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Firat and his team work in the interface of material science, electronics, chemistry and biology, focusing on the development of new materials and low-cost transducers to interface the physical, chemical and biological world around us with machines. Firat is passionate about solving problems concerning animal and human health, agriculture and food systems. For more information on Güder Research Group please visit 
Ceara Byrne
Georgia Institute of Technology
Ceara Byrne is a designer and computer scientist who uses a data-driven, multispecies-centered approach to develop products. Her PhD research at the Georgia Institute of Technology focused on instrumenting dog toys with various sensors for measuring computational ethograms of behavior.

Tatyana Zimina  
St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI”
Graduated St. Petersburg University, Department of Physics. Obtained Ph. D. degree in physics (biophysics) at the Institute of Macromolecular Compounds, Russian Academy of Sciences. The main research interests are in the development of functional components of hybrid analytical systems for express biomedical analysis.
Nareed Hashem Farhat
Manager of Tech4A Lab, ML engineer.
Nareed Hashem is a ML engineer and data scientist managing Tech4Animals Lab and an M.Sc student at the Information Systems Department at the University of Haifa.
All times are in St. Petersburg, Russia time (GMT+3)  
When is this in my timezone?
Tuesday, 20 July
Morning Session - Animals: Behavior and Welfare
09:00 - 09:30
Opening and Welcome
09:30 - 10:15
Robert Young
Introduction to Animal Behavior and Cognition
10:30 - 11:15
Eleonora Nannoni
Complexities in Animal Welfare Assessment
11:15 - 11:30
Presentation of a new international master program "Animal Data Science" by LETI University
Evening Session - Animals and Community
19:00 - 19:45
Sarah-Elisabeth Byosiere
The 3 C’s: Companion Animals, Computers, and Community
20:00 - 20:45
Daniel Metcalfe
Multispecies Design
Wednesday, 21 July
Morning Session: Animal-Centered Design 
09:00 - 09:45
Clara Mancini
Animal-Computer Interaction: Making Sense of Animals’ Interactions with Technologies
10:00 - 10:45
Dirk van der Linden
Interspecies Information Systems Engineering
11:00 - 13:00
Ilyena Hirsky-Douglas
Workshop on Designing Animal Internet Systems
Evening Session - Animal-Centrered Computing 
17:00 - 18:00
Nareed Hashem Farhat
A Practical Tutorial on Automated Tracking Using ezTrack
18:15 - 18:45
Tatyana Zimina
Biochip Express-Diagnostics in Veterinary Practice
18:45 - 19:15
Evgenia Novikova
IoT for Animals: Privacy and Security Aspects
19:30 - 20:15
David Roberts
Designing for In Vivo Studies of Working Dogs: A Case Study of Guiding Eyes for the Blind
20:15 - 20:45
Firat Guder
Stretchable wearable sensors for monitoring cardiac and respiratory activity
21:00 - 21:45
Mark Hansen
Computer Vision and Deep Learning for on-farm Welfare Assessments of Livestock
Thursday, 22 July
Morning Session - Relationships with Animals in the Digital Age.
09:00 - 11:00
"Relationships with Animals in the Digital Age"
A panel presenting a new Research Hub @ University of Haifa

Short talks by the research hub researchers and moderated discussion:
Nir Sapir - Evolutionary & Enviromental Biology
Imad Shams - Evolutionary & Enviromental Biology
Shay Gabbay - Cognition
Shlomo Wagner - Neurobiology
Itai Beeri - Political Science
Orit Hirsch - Anthropology
Matan Yuval - Marine Technologies
Itzik Klein - Marine Technologies
Motti Charter - Ecology
11:00 - 13:00
Student Groups meeting with mentors
Evening Session - Analyzing Complex Phenomena
18:15 - 19:00

19:00 - 19:45
Student final presentations

Amos Bouskila
Towards Improving the Welfare of Horses using GPS and Decision Making Models
20:00 - 20:45
Brennen McKenzie
Aging in Dogs: Physical & Behavioral Signs and Opportunities for Automation
21:00 - 21:45
Ceara Byrne
Instrumenting Toys and Quantifying Canine Object-Play Behavior
To view event time in your timezone press on
The summer school is free for everyone. This is made possible by the sponsorship of the Electrotechnical University of LETI, St. Petersburg, the Research Authority of the University of Haifa and Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

Two types of registration are available: 
  1. Formal participant.
    This is mainly recommended for students who wish to pursue research in ACC in the future. Requires participation in all lectures and activities, working in groups during the summer school, and submitting a final project at the end. Formal participants will get a formal certificate from the University of LETI for attending the school.
    For registering as formal participant, please use this link.
    For any inquiries, please email Nika Domanova, Summer School suprevisor at the University of LETI.
  2. Free listener. 
    This is recommended for experts interested in particular topics, or non-expert participants. No formal requirements.
    For registering as free listener, please use
    this form.
Anna Zamansky
Information Systems Department, University of Haifa, Israel
Independent Researcher, Switzerland
Catia Caeiro
University of Lincoln and University of Kyoto
Dirk van der Linden
Northumbria University, UK
Dmitrii Kaplun
Automation and Control Processes Department, St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University LETI
Nareed Hashem
Tech4animals SW Team Lead, University of Haifa, Israel
Sabrina Karl
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria
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