LMC Scholar of Cognition and Creativity Named Regents’ Professor

Posted April 25, 2024

Brian Magerko, whose groundbreaking work in cognition, coding education, and creativity has been featured in classrooms across the country and even in celebrity-led music competitions, has been named a Regents’ Professor by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. 

“This is really as much a comment on the amazing quality of collaborators and mentors that I have had the good fortune to work with as it is anything about me,” said Magerko, who has been at Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) since 2007. “I wouldn't be able to do the kind of multidisciplinary work I do in creativity and computing without their invaluable efforts and insight. I feel very fortunate to be working at Georgia Tech and just hope that my work has helped make the world a little bit of a better place.” 

In their nomination letter, LMC Chair Kelly Ritter and former Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Dean Kaye Husbands Fealing said that Magerko is “not just a leading researcher who serves as a role model for junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students; he is also someone who takes that expertise and puts it to work in creating a strong and forward-looking vision for his colleagues and program, and in doing so, provides pathways for others to accomplish their own professional and intellectual goals.” 

Magerko, who has brought more than $15 million in funding to Georgia Tech, becomes the second active Regents’ Professor in LMC, along with science fiction scholar Lisa Yaszek, and the fifth in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. The others are Marilyn A. Brown in the School of Public Policy, Willie Pearson in the School of History and Sociology, and Seymour E. Goodman in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Additionally, Brad Fain, director of the Center for Advanced Communications Policy, holds the title of Regents’ Researcher, and Kirk Bowman in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs holds that title of Regents’ Entrepreneur. 

Ritter praised Magerko as a researcher who “makes significant, impactful, and cross-disciplinary contributions to the fields of cognitive science, computer science, and computational media research.” 

“He seeks to better understand social collaboration and creativity between humans and artificial intelligence, as well as how to use computing to improve the lives of marginalized populations, which is emblematic of the humanistic-centered, social-justice mission that undergirds LMC as a whole,” Ritter said. 

Working with Jason Freeman in the School of Music, Magerko helped lead development of EarSketch, a popular application designed to teach coding through music. More than 1.5 million students across the U.S. and overseas have used the platform. The program was also central to “Your Voice is Power” music competitions sponsored by Amazon Future Engineer and featuring Pharrell Williams, among others. 

Since then, he has worked on National Science Foundation grants to extend EarSketch’s capabilities to include artificial intelligence and more capabilities for users with visual impairments. He also helped create TuneTable, a musical interactive tabletop exhibit that teaches the basics of computer coding. 

More recently, he has been working on a project called LuminAI, which involves creating an avatar powered by artificial intelligence capable of improvising dance moves with humans. That project will soon culminate in an exhibition at Kennesaw State University, where Magerko is collaborating with Andrea Knowlton of KSU’s Department of Dance. 

Additionally, Magerko — who holds courtesy appointments in the School of Psychology and the College of Computing — has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on computational media, cognition, and learning during his career. He is also a senior researcher at the NSF Adult Learning and Online Education AI Institute

In addition to his research work, Magerko also serves as director of graduate studies for LMC’s Digital Media program, which produces master’s and Ph.D. graduates prepared to take on jobs in digital media, game design, user experience research, higher education, and more. 

“Dr. Magerko exemplifies our teaching and educational mission in his work on behalf of our Digital Media program,” Ritter said. “He has built an already strong and forward-looking program into an even better one that provides pathways for students to accomplish their own professional and intellectual goals. He is a tremendous asset to LMC, the Ivan Allen College, and Georgia Tech, and we’re thrilled the Board of Regents has chosen to award him this well-deserved distinction.” 

Magerko is one of 19 Georgia Tech faculty to receive Regents’ distinctions this year. 

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Contact For More Information

Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts