Desmond Ong
Desmond C. Ong, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Information Systems and Analytics
School of Computing
National University of Singapore

Office: COM2-04-29
dco (at)
Research Scientist
Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC)
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

desmond (underscore) ong (at)
Github Github: desmond-ong
Google Scholar


  • July 2021: Singapore CogSci Meetup on Tuesday 27th July, at NUS Campus! Please register at the above link if you're interested to attend, as we have to account for social distancing requirements.
    As CogSci is being held virtually this year, some members of CogSci proposed to organize local meetups, subject to local pandemic restrictions, as a chance for cognitive science researchers to present research in-person. Please also see this page for more information about this initiative.
    Looking forward to seeing everyone there (and at our Affective Cognition workshop!)

  • June 2021: My Final Year Project student Kong Yan San has won the SoC Outstanding Computing Project Prize! Congratulations to Yan San!

  • April 2021: We just got awarded a large (~$10M over 4 years) grant from AI Singapore, together with David Hsu and colleagues from NUS, SMU, SUTD, and A*STAR, to build better collaborative AI! Am excited about the potential research opportunities with these amazing colleagues!

  • April 2021: We are organizing a workshop titled Interdisciplinary Advances in Affective Cognition at CogSci this year, where we want to bring together a diverse group of scholars on the topic of affective cognition. Looking forward to seeing everyone there! (Also, we have two CogSci papers from my lab, on counterfactual emotional reasoning and on observational causal learning. Do check them out!)

  • February 2021: I will be giving an invited talk at the Emotion Preconference at SPSP, which will be held virtually on 10 Feb. Hope to see you there!

  • December 2020: Grateful to be able to round off the year with an accepted AERA Open paper (on a really cool explore-exploit-prune model of student resource regulation, together with Patricia Chen and colleagues) and an AAAI paper (on aspect-based sentiment analysis, led by my student Zhengxuan). I hope everyone reading this stays safe as we come to the end of a very difficult year. And here's hoping that 2021 will be a much better year!

  • August 2020: My Final Year Project student Terence Lim has won the NUS Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize! Congratulations to Terence!

I am a cognitive scientist interested in how people (and computers) reason about other people: how they think and what they feel.

I am an Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Analytics within the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore, where I lead a team of talented researchers in the Computational Affective and Social Cognition Lab. Within NUS, I am affiliated with:

I also hold a concurrent appointment as a Research Scientist in the Institute for High Performance Computing, A*STAR, where I contribute to Integrative Social Science and human-centric AI research efforts (an initiative formerly known as the A*STAR Artificial Intelligence Initiative). The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the national agency that coordinates Singapore's publicly-funded research and development.

I earned my Ph.D. in Psychology and a Master's degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. For my dissertation research, I worked primarily with Noah Goodman (Computation and Cognition Lab) and Jamil Zaki (Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab). I also hold an undergraduate degree in Economics and Physics from Cornell University.

You can find my CV here (dated October 2020).

And you can read a recent feature about my research here! (and a shorter one, mostly about my scholarship, here)

For the 2021-2022 Academic Year, I am unable to accept any new students.
If the research that I do sounds interesting to you, I am always looking for enthusiastic and capable psychologists, computer scientists, information scientists and researchers in closely-related fields, to join my team. Do get in touch with me! There may be availabilities open at all levels: Full-time post-baccalaureate, post-masters, and post-doctoral positions; post-graduate and PhD opportunities in the School of Computing (for Singaporeans considering a PhD with me, do look into funding sources like the Graduate Tutorship Scheme), as well as shorter-term internships and other potential research attachment opportunities (e.g., NUS Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, or UROP).


At NUS I teach BT1101: Introduction to Business Analytics, a first-year course covering statistics and data analytics in R. I am compiling my notes from the class (as well as several more advanced topics) into a draft web book, here.

In Semester 1 of AY2020/2021, I taught a new course, IS4152: Affective Computing.