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© Photo: Michael Setzpfand

Meet Dr. Tanja Schneeberger

Psychologist, Senior Researcher at DFKI Berlin

Please introduce yourself briefly and describe your current role at DFKI 

I am Tanja Schneeberger, originally from the Saarland, now based in Berlin. I am a researcher with a psychology background in the field of human-computer interaction. I got to know DFKI in 2011 during an internship researching new ways of interaction for future cars. I have been hooked ever since: I stayed for my bachelor’s, started as a research assistant and finally finished my PhD in the interdisciplinary field between psychology and AI called Affective Computing.


In which of the 26 research departments do you work at DFKI? 

Now, I work in the Affective Computing Group within the Cognitive Assistants research department. As a subfield of AI, Affective Computing tries to develop machines that understand humans’ individual affective experiences and act accordingly. In this way, machines can be used to help different types of people in difficult situations, such as preparing for a job interview, practising teaching in front of an reluctant class or trusting autonomous cars.

What are you working on at the moment, or in other words, what are your plans for saving the world? 

I am currently working on new ideas on how we can improve the treatment of people with depression through the use of virtual agents. In Germany, one in five to six adults will experience a depressive episode at least once. Well-trained specialists are needed to diagnose and treat this large number of people. But even now, and even more so in the future, these are in short supply. Empathic interfaces equipped with AI tools could assist these professionals to provide better patient care.

What are your strengths and what has been your greatest success or favourite experience so far? 

By merging insights from psychology and AI, I embrace their best qualities. This fusion enables me to imagine projects that revolutionise the way we interact with technology and each other, paving the way for a more inclusive and empathetic future. Interdisciplinary work means understanding and integrating the motivations of people from different backgrounds. We want to create innovative solutions that resonate with diverse audiences and are both cutting-edge and deeply empathetic.


What do you enjoy most about your job at DFKI? What inspires and fascinates you? 

DFKI is a great place to work because we always face new challenges in different projects where we work with new people. I also like the fact that our Affective Computing group is like a family that not only celebrates new research results, but also celebrates each other's successes work-related or personal.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you have become? 

A carpenter who creates beautiful objects for people to live and work around, such as kitchens or large dining tables where friends and families can enjoy time together.