What sort of research are you doing? I enjoy exploring different types of interfaces and interaction techniques. I’m particularly interested in how human factors, like culture, gender, and age, affect the way people perceive and use technology. My project is part of my INDS capstone and explores how we can use data visualization to represent task performance in using a computer to an older adult.
How long have you been doing this research? What inspired you to become involved/ how did you become involved? I just started this project this year, but I’ve been involved in HCI research since my freshman year through summer research experiences for undergraduates (REU) and on-campus opportunities in the Human-Centered Computing program. I really wanted to work with Dr. Hurst since I’d heard about the work she did at Carnegie Mellon, so together we developed this project in the hopes of making it my capstone. Dr. Hurst and Dr. Rheingans were instrumental in helping me form my proposal and make it happen.
How much time do you spend doing research? As much as I possibly can! I’m always working on something. I try to balance my school work and research projects, and one way I cut down on the workload is by interweaving topics I’m interested in for my research into my classwork! For instance, I’m working on this project as my course project for CMSC 436H- Data Visualization. I’ve done some of the literature reviews in previous courses or even in other internships.
Do you plan to become involved in URCAD? Or, are you being supported by any scholarships or fellowships? Yes! We will definitely be at URCAD in the Spring. This project is funded by a grant from the Computer Research Association for Women Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates (CRA-W CREU). I am also a Meyerhoff and NSA Scholar and a Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) Affiliate.
What is the best part of your research so far? The best part is that I have the freedom to explore an interesting question, dig through and synthesize work from a variety of disciplines, and to indulge my secret art-self.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while doing research so far? Well, time of course is a challenge. Also, coming in with little background in the field of data visualization made work slow at the beginning. But, I asked Dr. Rheingans tons of questions whenever I get stuck, read stacks of papers, and blab about the project to anyone with a smidgen of a background to get their input (networking = great resources!) Basically, I just jumped in!
What do you hope to achieve with this research? Naturally, I aim to make every person over sixty-five a savvy computer user within the next three years.
Seriously, to be realistic, I hope to make some small contribution to our understanding of how data and information visualization can be used to represent one’s behavior to oneself and how to make data accessible to a wider audience than just scientific domain experts. There has been some discussion and informal work in this area of “ego-visualization,” but it is a pretty new concept. Few (if any) studies target older adults as their typical computer users. I’m a firm believer in inclusive design, so most of the “humans” in my work are from underrepresented populations in technology research, like older adults and people with varied ability.
Some of the application areas we’ve thought about down the road are using these types of visualizations to help occupational therapy patients keep track of their progress or in a “Nursing care environment of the future,” we can visualize other types of personal data– like blood pressure, movement patterns, or eating habits to help the elderly and their assistants take better care of themselves.
Do you feel like this research is preparing you for post-college plans? YES!!! I’m applying to graduate schools right now so the more research experience I have, the better. Plus, since I am so heavily involved in the project, I have something intelligent to talk to prospective faculty mentors about.
*Jasmine was interviewed in October 2011.