Honors Thesis 2023 - Camila Calviño

The Emora College Companion: A Socialbot for College Students

Camila Calviño

Highest Honor in Quantitative Theory and Methods


The social chatbot, Emora, was first designed in 2020 by researchers at the Natural Language Processing Lab at Emory University to compete in the Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 3. Motivated by the inquisitive social chatbot’s success in the challenge, a team of Emory NLP researchers created the Emora College Companion, a socialbot for undergraduate students. The relevant release of this technology to Emory’s Undergraduate population follows a shift in higher education settings towards using chatbots to support student populations. Unlike current chatbot models however, the Emora College Companion differentiates itself by being fully conversational and learning about its user through meaningful and human-like interactions. The Emora College Companion helps undergraduate students achieve their academic goals by being a faithful companion who is there for students from orientation to graduation. To the best of available knowledge, the Emora College Companion is the first socialbot catering to college undergraduate students. Current versions of chatbots utilized in higher education serve to answer frequently asked questions and send reminders. These chatbots function well to fulfill the needs they were designed for: easing workloads of advisors, professors, and teaching assistants and keeping students engaged in completing deliverables required for college enrollment. Nonetheless, none complete these tasks through natural-language-driven social interactions. The Emora College Companion tackles the task of asking students to think differently about how they approach resolving day-to-day tasks and challenge, such as preventing procrastination and resolving interpersonal issues. Currently, Emora spends most of her time conversing with a young and technologically influenced population. Some of her most robust and successful topics include video games, movies, and trendy food options. The most recently tested version of the College Companion, Version 8, is able to sustain over 40 distinct and personalized conversations, ranging across 13 topics. In order to exhaust the contents of College Companion Version 8, users would need to complete approximately 456 turns, which sums to about 3,360 seconds (56 minutes) of non-stop conversation. Version 8 of the Emora College Companion has a misunderstanding rate of 5.05% and poor response rate of 4.46%, based on 10 user conversations.

Department / School

Quantitative Theory and Methods / Emory University

Degree / Year

BS / Spring 2023


Jinho D. Choi, Computer Science and QTM, Emory University (Chair)
Roberto Franzosi, Computer Science, Emory University
Peter Roberts, Organization & Management, Emory University


Anthology | Paper | Presentation

Peter Roberts, Camila Calviño, Jinho Choi, Roberto Franzosi