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Nell O'Rourke

Assistant Professor in Computer Science and the Learning Sciences

Nell is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where she co-directs the interdisciplinary Delta Lab. Her research explores the design of novel computational systems to support motivation and learning in STEM domains. Recent projects include studying student beliefs about programming ability in introductory computer science courses, designing game mechanics that encourage students to practice problem-solving skills, and developing web inspection tools that allow novice developers to learn directly from authentic professional websites. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, where she was a member of the Center for Game Science and DUB. When not at work, she loves visiting local playgrounds, beaches, and museums with her family   Her interventions have been used by over 100,000 students online, adopted by companies, and integrated into classrooms. Her work has been recognized through an NSF CAREER Award, a Google Systems Research Award, and best paper awards and nominations at SIGCSE, UIST, and CHI. 

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Haoqi Zhang

Associate Professor in Computer Science and Design

Haoqi is an Associate Professor in Computer Science and Design and founder and director of the Design, Technology, and Research (DTR) program, which provides an original model for research training for over 100 graduate and undergraduate students. His research advances the design of integrated socio-technical models that solve complex problems and advance human values. His work bridges the fields of Human-Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, Social & Crowd Computing, Learning Science, and Decision Science. Haoqi received his PhD in Computer Science and BA in Computer Science and Economics from Harvard University. He is the proud parent of Stella (@stellystarship), an Australian Shepard.   His work is generously supported by grants from the National Science Foundation in Cyber-Human Systems, Cyberlearning, and the Research Initiation Initiative; the Buffett Institute of Global Affairs; and the Center for Advancing Safety in Machine Intelligence. 

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Matt Easterday

Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences

Matt Easterday is an Associate Professor at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. His research focuses on technology for the new civics – producing scientifically supported educational technology to create informed and engaged citizens who can solve the serious policy problems facing our society such as poverty, global warming, and militarism. He received his PhD in 2010 from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a fellow in the Institute for Educational Science’s Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research and a Siebel Scholar. He is the director of PB Evanston, a student and community-led organization that aims to institutionalize participatory budgeting in Evanston by training volunteers and advising city officials. He is one of the most effective outreach volunteers with over 500 Evanstonians recruited!  He is a Northwestern Center for Civic Engagement Faculty Fellow, a Northwestern Searle Center for Teaching Excellence Fellow, and winner of the 2015 Northwestern Ver Steeg Graduate Advising Award. 

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Liz Gerber

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Communication Studies

Liz is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Communication Studies, Co-Director of the Center for Human Computer Interaction + Design, Faculty Founder of Design for America, and Co-Director of Delta Lab. She designs and implements new social technologies to enable new ways to solve problems with diverse stakeholders and studies how the technologies change the roles stakeholders play and the new organizations needed for this work. Her work cuts across design, human-computer interaction, and organizational studies and is informed by her formal training in product design, management science, and studio art at Stanford University and Dartmouth College. When not at work, she loves being on the lake or in the mountains with friends and family.  She is the recipient of the 2022 ACM Social Impact Award and the 2018 Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Award for Institutional Excellence. Her work has been featured in outlets including NPR, ABC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Forbes, The Guardian, Harvard Business Review, and Wired. 

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Garrett Hedman

Ph.D. Candidate

My name is Garrett Hedman, and I am a 6th year CS+LS student. I am interested in building and learning how to build the next generation of digital educational tools. Currently I am researching what design principles help people create microworlds that support students in learning complex math and science concepts. If you ever want to talk about measurements, game design, or children’s understanding of the world, I’m your person! :D 

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Gobi Dasu

Ph.D. Candidate

Gobi is a 6th year PhD candidate in Computer Science advised by Prof. Haoqi Zhang and Prof. Nell O'Rourke. His research interests are in Engineer Training, the Future of Work, and ICT4D. Currently, there is a need to train enough engineers to meet 21st century demand, but MOOCs only go so far. Gobi is interested in problems in this space from both a research and practical perspective. Specifically, he is working on the rale-modules project, which is a sensemaking procedure and tool that will help novice programmers gain an architectural understanding of professional websites, and then use that understanding to build their own applications. Outside of the lab, he tries to apply HCI research lessons to LD Talent, a platform he started to help companies hire, manage, and upskill diverse tech talent. Gobi received his undergrad and masters in Computer Science from Stanford University. Gobi is also obsessed with productivity techniques. He invented a new way of frictionless time tracking for developers in Slack: Developer Time Tracking using Slack – beyond Fixed Price vs Hourly

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Kapil Garg

Ph.D. Candidate

Kapil is a 6th year Ph.D. candidate in Technology and Social Behavior, a joint program between the Computer Science and Communication departments. His research interests broadly fall at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI), social and crowd computing, and artificial intelligence, where he is interested in building human-machine systems for a variety of tasks. His current work seeks to develop machine supports that aid students and mentors in identifying and addressing project needs that arise while conducting research work in the Agile Research Studio (ARS) setting. Kapil received his B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from Northwestern University.

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Leesha Maliakal Shah

Ph.D. Candidate

Leesha is a 6th year Ph.D. candidate in the Technology and Social Behavior program at Northwestern. She uses design-based research methods to design, build, and test continual support systems, primarily situated in studio- based learning environments. Her current interest is to study how technology might facilitate surfacing challenges and coordinating support within research communities of practice, and further explore possible learning and growth outcomes for students. She hopes that these systems will enhance and extend the natural ways in which communities reflect, learn, grow, and provide support for one another in our communities. Leesha received her B.A. in Computer Science and M.S. in Computer Science and Communication Studies at Northwestern.

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Aidan Fitzsimons

Ph.D. Student

Hi, I'm Aidan!

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Ayse Hunt

Ph.D. Student

Hi, I'm Ayse!

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Caryn Tran

Ph.D. Student

Caryn is a 2nd year PhD student in the Joint Program in Computer Science and Learning Sciences at Northwestern, advised by Professor Eleanor O’Rourke. Caryn researches and designs educational programming tools for K-12 computer science. She is interested in student-centered learning and design; more specifically, how to provide students with authentic learning experiences. Her work is informed by her experiences as a middle school computer science teacher and ed-tech developer; as well as her undergraduate and master’s education in computer science and artificial intelligence from UC Berkeley. In her free time, Caryn loves dancing, playing tennis, and chasing her cat, Gandalf.  

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Evey Huang

Ph.D. Student

Evey is a 4th year PhD student in the TSB program and is advised by Dr Elizabeth Gerber and Dr Matt Easterday. Her research interest lies at the intersection of HCI, AI, and education. She uses human-centered research methods to design and build mixed-initiative human-AI systems that can support coaching and learning in real-world, ill-defined domains like design and entrepreneurship. Prior to grad school, she got her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in Economics and worked on numerous research projects in HCI and data science. Outside of research, you can find her playing tennis, painting, and going to lots of live concerts.  

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Gus Umbelino

Ph.D. Student

Gus is a 5th year PhD student in the Technology and Social Behavior program advised by Liz Gerber and Matt Easterday. His research focuses on civic technologies to support emerging democratic processes, like participatory budgeting. He draws on his personal experience as a political activist and academic training in computer science and psychology from the University of California, San Diego. He is the president of the Open Democracy Project, a student and community-led organization that aims to train the next generation of political activists. He is one of the most effective outreach volunteers in PB Evanston with over 500 Evanstonians recruited! Gus is a Northwestern HCI+D Design Cluster Fellow and the recipient of a Cognitive Science Graduate Fellowship in 2021. 

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Jessica Zier

Ph.D. Student

Hi, I'm Jessica!

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Melissa Chen

Ph.D. Student

Melissa is a 2nd year PhD student in the Computer Science program advised by Professor Eleanor O’Rourke. She is interested in designing intelligent tools for beginner programming students’ motivation and self-efficacy. Currently, she is working on a feedback-based intervention to help students reframe moments when they might be negatively self-assessing their abilities due to unrealistic expectations of the programming process. Prior to starting at Northwestern, Melissa received her BS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Outside of research, she enjoys exploring Evanston and Chicago with friends, reading, and playing video games. 

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Morgan Wu

Ph.D. Student

Morgan is a 3rd year PhD student in the Learning Sciences program advised by Professor Matt Easterday. Her research focuses on deliberative negotiation, delving from the process in deliberation for a better understanding of the linkage problems that impede deliberation outcomes from being implemented. Her research interest lies on learning how civic education can help people to be effective citizens. Morgan is the recipient of a government scholarship from Ministry of Education, Taiwan from 2021 to 2025.

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Yinmiao Li

Ph.D. Student

Yinmiao Li is a 2nd-year PhD student at Northwestern University's Joint Program in Computer Science and Learning Sciences, advised by Professor Eleanor O’Rourke and Professor Michael Horn. Her research focuses on studying metacognitive and self-regulated learning skills in computer science students. She also designs interventions to support effective metacognitive learning strategies. Yinmiao's background includes formal training in Interactive Media Arts and Human-computer interaction from New York University and Carnegie Mellon University. Outside of her work, she enjoys music and spending time outdoors. 

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Elizabeth Dudley

Undergraduate Student Researcher

Elizabeth is a 4th year undergraduate student studying Art History, Economics, and Design Studies program advised by Professor Liz Gerber. She is interested in the interactions between design and society that play out across past and present. Currently, she is working on two projects: understanding teachers’ long-term success in crowdfunding for their classrooms & a thesis on the resonance of 18th-century aesthetics and aesthetic politics in cottagecore fashion as it exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of research, she enjoys baking, sewing, making art, and playing video games. 

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Lauren Lin

Undergraduate Student Researcher

Hi, I'm Lauren!

Alumni

Headshot of Daniel Rees Lewis

Daniel Rees Lewis

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Daniel!

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Emily Harburg

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Emily!

Headshot of Eureka Foong

Eureka Foong

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Eureka!

Headshot of Jamie Gorson

Jamie Gorson

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Jamie!

Headshot of Josh Hibschman

Josh Hibschman

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Josh!

Headshot of Julie Hui

Julie Hui

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Julie!

Headshot of Kristine Lu

Kristine Lu

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Kristine!

Headshot of Mike Greenberg

Mike Greenberg

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Mike!

Headshot of Nick LaGrassa

Nick LaGrassa

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Nick!

Headshot of Ryan Louie

Ryan Louie

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Ryan!

Headshot of Spencer Carlson

Spencer Carlson

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Spencer!

Headshot of Yongsung Kim

Yongsung Kim

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Yongsung!

Headshot of Harrison Kwik

Harrison Kwik

Ph.D. Alum

Hi, I'm Harrison!

Headshot of Elsie Michaels

Elsie Michaels

Masters Alum

Hi, I'm Elsie!