Robert Hubal, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Robert Hubal, Ph.D.’s, research interests center on the intelligent use of technology to better train and assess knowledge and skills. He has experience developing embodied conversational agents for interaction skills training and situated assessment; conducting cost-effectiveness studies of simulation training systems; conducting expertise, linguistic codability, and mental modeling studies; investigating adaptive intelligent tutoring; implementing patterns of life into the portrayal of activity within game-based environments; and investigating visual analytics and representation. Hubal has applied research results to such everyday and specialized domains as medical informed consent, clinical assessment of social and interpersonal skills, consumer decision making, vigilance in security and Intelligence, law enforcement interactions, warfighter/ civilian sociocultural engagement, survey nonresponse, and driving skills assessment.

Hubal’s research has centered on four overlapping areas:

Technology Assisted Learning

Hubal has extensive experience in developing situated training and assessment systems, always working with subject-matter experts to design the most appropriate and focused systems. Examples include evaluating the cost-effectiveness of simulation training systems; developing adaptive intelligent tutoring; developing intelligent virtual advisors; developing an information-processing model of experts’ knowledge and skill; exploring augmented cognition and user-sensing technologies for simulation training systems.

Hubal, R.C., & Helms, R.F. (1998). Advanced learning environments. Modern Simulation & Training, 5, 40-45. ERIC Number: ED415348

Frank, G., Hubal, R., & O’Bea, M. (2007). Using competency definitions to adapt training for mission success. Proceedings of I/ITSEC (pp. 1262-1270). Arlington, VA: NDIA.

Hubal, R. (2012). The imperative for social competency prediction. In S.J. Yang, A.M. Greenberg, & M. Endsley (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling, & Prediction (pp. 188-195). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-29047-3_23

Hubal, R., & Pina, J. (2012). Serious assessments in serious games. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 4(3), 49-64. DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2012070104

Intelligent Virtual Humans

Hubal has developed behavioral software that enables virtual humans to act and behave realistically in controlled learning contexts. Applications developed include assessing medical practitioners in history taking for both asthmatic and pediatric patients; training civilian police officers in how to handle mentally disturbed individuals; training telephone and field interview staff in obtaining respondent participation. Developed virtual vignettes to assess social functioning deficits in at-risk youth. Investigated models of cultural daily activities and patterns of life integrated into simulations of intelligent virtual humans.

Hubal, R.C., Frank, G.A., & Guinn, C.I. (2003). Lessons learned in modeling schizophrenic and depressed responsive virtual humans for training. Proceedings of the Intelligent User Interface Conference (pp. 85-92). New York, NY: ACM Press. DOI: 10.1145/604045.604062

Paschall, M.J., Fishbein, D.H., Hubal, R.C., & Eldreth, D. (2005). Psychometric properties of virtual reality vignette performance measures: A novel approach for assessing adolescents’ social competency skills. Health Education Research: Theory and Practice, 20(1), 61-70. PMID: 15253996

Hubal, R.C., Fishbein, D.H., Sheppard, M.S, Paschall, M.J., Eldreth, D.L., & Hyde, C.T. (2008). How do varied populations interact with embodied conversational agents? Findings from inner-city adolescents and prisoners. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(3), 1104-1138. PMID: 19412316

Hubal, R., Folsom-Kovarik, J., Woods, A., Jones, R., & Carbone, J. (2015). Patterns of life in the foreground and background: Practical approaches to enhancing simulation-based interaction skills training. Proceedings of the Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation Conference (pp. 75-83). The BRIMS Society.

Healthcare Simulation

Hubal has developed a number of applications focuses specifically on medical and clinical settings. Approaches are to train clinicians on difficult content and skills, augment their practices by providing simulation environments to capture important diagnostic details, and improve patients’ understanding of processes and procedures.

Hubal, R.C., Kizakevich, P.N., Guinn, C.I., Merino, K.D., & West, S.L. (2000). The virtual standardized patient–Simulated patient-practitioner dialogue for patient interview training. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 70, 133-138. PMID: 10977526

Fishbein, D.H., Herman-Stahl, M., Eldreth, D.L., Paschall, M.J., Hyde, C., Hubal, R., Hubbard, S., Williams, J., & Ialongo, N. (2006). Mediators of the stress-substance use relationship in high-risk urban adolescents. Prevention Science, 7(2), 113-126. PMID: 16791520

Hubal, R.C., & Day, R.S. (2006). Informed consent procedures: An experimental test using a virtual character in a dialog systems training application. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 39(5), 532-540. PMID: 16464644

Hourani, L.L., Kizakevich, P.N., Hubal, R., Spira, J., Strange, L.B., Holiday, D.B., Bryant, S., & McLean, A.N. (2011). Predeployment stress inoculation training for primary prevention of combat-related stress disorders. Journal of CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation, 4(1), 101-116.

Kizakevich, P.N., Hubal, R., Brown, J., Lyden, J., Spira, J., Eckhoff, R., Zhang, Y., Bryant, S., & Munoz, G. (2012). PHIT for Duty, a mobile approach for psychological health intervention. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 181, 268-272. PMID: 22954869

Visual Analytics, Emotion, and Representation

Hubal has investigated visual analytics, which allow for looking at data prospectively and visually. He has studied approaches to deriving mental models to ultimately develop training to encourage adaptive thinking about test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment, with the intent to develop an approach to modeling the structure and process of knowledge and skills and to determine an approach to identifying differences between experts’ models and novices’ models. Interested in modeling emotion in and extracting emotion from dialog. Developed a process model for alternative representations and investigated the interaction between expertise and representation.

Guinn, C., & Hubal, R. (2003). Extracting emotional information from the text of spoken dialog. Proceedings of the Workshop on Assessing and Adapting to User Attitudes and Affect: Why, When and How? Johnstown, PA: User Modeling, Inc. DOI:

Hubal, R., Frank, G., Guinn, C., & Dupont, R. (2004). Integrating a crisis stages model into a simulation for training law enforcement officers to manage encounters with the mentally ill. In E. Hudlicka & L. Canamero (Eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Architectures for Modeling Emotion: Cross-Disciplinary Foundations, AAAI Spring Symposium Series (pp. 68-69). New York, NY: ACM Press.

Hubal, R., & Day, R.S. (2006). Understanding the frequency and severity of side effects: Linguistic, numeric, and visual representations. Proceedings of the Workshop on Argumentation for Consumers of Healthcare, American Association for Artificial Intelligence Spring Symposium Series (pp. 69-75). New York, NY: ACM Press.

Hubal, R.C. (2009). Mental models for effective training: Comparing expert and novice maintainers’ mental models. Research Report 1898. Arlington, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Hubal, R., Mitroff, S.R., Cain, M.S., Scott, B., & DeWitt, R. (2010). Simulating a vigilance task: Extensible technology for baggage security assessment and training. Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security (pp. 543-548). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE. DOI: 10.1109/THS.2010.5654982

Past Positions and Employment

1987-1990    Andersen Consulting, New York, NY

1996-2012    RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC

2012-2016    Soar Technology, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI

Professional Memberships

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)

International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, and Rehabilitation (iACToR)

National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)

Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH)

Submissions Reviewer

Cognitive Science Society

Computers in Human Behavior

Cross-Cultural Decision-Making Conference

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies

IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) Challenge

International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces

International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling, & Prediction

Journal of Biomedical Informatics

Journal of CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation

Military Medicine

Military Operational Medicine Joint Program Committee

National Institute on Mental Health

National Science Foundation

RTI Press


Responsive Virtual Human Technology NSF EIA-0121211 2001-2006 PI
Neuropsychological And Emotional Deficits Predict Correctional Treatment Response NIJ 2002-MU-BX-0013 2002-2004 Technical Lead
Collaborative Systems Involving Synthetic Characters And High-Risk Adolescents NSF IIS-0534211 2006-2009 PI
Mental models for effective training: Comparing expert and novice maintainers’ mental models ARI W74V8H-04-D-0044, SubPR-04-06 2008-2009 PI
Combat Stress Casualty Reduction: Development And Testing Of A Predeployment Stress Inoculation Training Program ONR, USAMRMC N00014-08-C-0504, N00014-12-C-0383 2008-2012 Technical Lead
PHIT For Duty: A Personal Health Improvement Tool For Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury USAMRMC W81XWH-11-2-0129 2011-2012 Technical Lead
Cultural Urban Synthetic Characters And Their Patterns Of Life PEO-STRI W900KK-13-C-0053 2013-2014 PI
AVANT: An Avatar-Based Neuropsychological Battery Administrator TATRC W81XWH-14-C-0016 2013-2016 PI
CRAFT: Cognitive Resilience And Flexibility Training ONR N00014-15-P-1135 2015-2016 Co-PI


Duke University Ph.D. 12/1996 Cognitive Psychology
North Carolina State University M.S. 06/1992 Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology S.B. 06/1987 Computer Science and Engineering