Brenna McNally – PhD iSchool

Featured Student: Brenna McNally – PhD iSchool

IMG_4624aSquareBrenna McNally is a Ph.D. student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Advised by Dr. Allison Druin, her research focuses on the design of technologies for children and the considerations around including children in the design process. She received her M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Maryland in 2012 and her B.A. in Telecommunication- Digital Media, Art, and Technology from Michigan State University in 2008.

Tell us about your research interests.

My research in Human-Computer Interaction revolves around working with children to design technologies for children. I study the ethical considerations around including children in the design process as well as the experiences of children who are part of the design process. I also research how to leverage mobile technologies to design learning opportunities.

Why did you choose to join the HCIL?

The impactful research, rich history, and supportive community at the HCIL was precisely what I was looking for. It was a combination that I could not find anywhere else.

Do you have any advice for students interested in studying HCI at UMD?

If you are in the area, I suggest visiting. Come to one of our Brown Bag Lunches on Thursdays or to the HCIL Symposium in spring to see what work is being done at the HCIL and to meet our faculty and students.

If you are not in the area, I still suggest that you reach out to the students. We are happy to talk with prospective HCIM and PhD students about research, courses, and what it is like to be a member of the HCIL.

*Note: You can check out the upcoming events in the HCIL here. All are welcome.

Kotaro Hara – PhD CS

Featured Student: Kotaro Hara – PhD CS

kotaroharaKotaro Hara is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park advised by Prof. Jon Froehlich. His research focuses on designing, building, and evaluating systems powered by both people and machines to improve the accessibility of the physical world. He received a B.E. in Information Engineering from Osaka University in 2010 and was named an IBM Ph.D. Fellow in 2014.

Tell us about your Research Interests

My research in Human-Computer Interaction focuses on creating technologies to support people with mobility impairments. We create systems to collect geographical data about accessibility from Google Street View using methods such as crowdsourcing and computer vision. Using the collected geo-tagged accessibility information, we create tools like a navigation system for people with mobility impairments.

What has been your favorite part of being a student in the HCIL?

One of the things that is great about the HCIL is the lab has researchers from many different backgrounds. Some of my friends are working on information retrieval projects using multiple cluster computers for social network analysis; some are making technologies and conducting qualitative research on designs to support kids to learn human body anatomy. This diversity is great because when I have questions, there is someone in the other side of the office that I can walk up to and ask things like: “how do I apply this one machine learning technique to my problem” or “what is the best design of a formative usability study for my research!”

Do you have any advice for students interested in studying HCI at University of Maryland?

UMD is one of the top places to do research in Human-Computer Interaction. If you are interested in doing research in this area, you should definitely apply. Depending on your background and what you want to research, consider applying to Department of Computer Science, iSchool, or other departments that affiliate with HCIL.