“My favorite thing about UMBC is the amount of support I have gotten from my co-advisers, Dr. Stacy Branham and Dr. Foad Hamidi. They have been amazing mentors and collaborators on my thesis research.”
Hometown: Forest Hill, MD
Degree Program: Human-Centered Computing (M.S.)
Faculty Advisor: Stacy Branham, Foad Hamidi
Awards/Fellowships: Best Paper at CHI 2018, Google Travel and Conference Grant 2017, Graduate Student Association Travel & Presenter Grant 2017 and 2018.
Thesis/research topic: Exploring Transgender Individuals’ Experiences of Safety with Technology
May 2016, B.A., Communications (and minor in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Goucher College
Why did you decide to attend UMBC?
I decided to attend UMBC because of the Human-Centered Computing program that they offered. The fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Human-Centered Computing are something I discovered in my final semester of undergrad, thanks to a course I took on online interaction and the history of the Internet. I also had the opportunity to talk to professionals in the user experience field during an internship I had. Almost all of them had attended the UMBC HCC program and had great things to say about it.
What is your favorite thing about UMBC?
My favorite thing about UMBC is the amount of support I have gotten from my co-advisers, Dr. Stacy Branham and Dr. Foad Hamidi. They have been amazing mentors and collaborators on my thesis research.
What is your favorite thing about Baltimore?
I also love that Baltimore is so rich and diverse, and is so heavily involved in activism. Our participants from the Baltimore community have so much to say, and are definitely experts in their domains and experiences.
What are some of the benefits of being part of the graduate community at UMBC?
I feel like UMBC really supports its graduate students and wants them to succeed. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many opportunities to get involved with outside-the-classroom learning and research opportunities. Before I even started the program, I was invited to participate on a research team. The faculty in the department really care about student success.
Briefly describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications:
My research is on the intersection of gender and technology, specifically exploring the ways transgender and non-binary individuals experience harm when interacting with technology. My research includes two perspectives on this, one being the way harm manifests on social media when transgender individuals interact with other users, and another being the way technologies themselves may cause harm. In this second case, I explored the perceptions transgender individuals have about gendered recognition technologies, which very acutely represents the way binary conceptions of gender can be embedded in technology and thus perpetrate harmful and exclusive stereotypes.The purpose of this work is to incite a more nuanced understanding of the way marginalized users experience technology and how to better design for safe experiences for those users.
Have you worked on any specific research projects (including any opportunity to publish or present your research) that you would like to highlight?
Most recently, I have published and presented a paper at CHI 2018 alongside Foad Hamidi and Stacy Branham based on my thesis research. This paper was titled Gender Recognition or Gender Reductionism?: The Social Implications of Embedded Gender Recognition Systems and won a Best Paper award, which denote the top 1% of papers at the conference. When I first started at UMBC, I worked on a project exploring navigational cues for people who are blind. I published and presented a poster paper at CHI 2017 on this work, called Learning the Language: The Importance of Studying Written Directions in Designing Navigational Technologies for the Blind. I also co-authored a paper at ASSETS 2017 with fellow students and faculty discussing experiences of interpersonal safety for individuals who are blind, titled “Is Someone There? Do They Have a Gun”: How Visual Information about Others Can Improve Personal Safety Management for Blind Individuals.
What are your plans after you complete your degree at UMBC?
I was honored to be accepted to many wonderful PhD programs. I recently confirmed that I will be attending University of Colorado Boulder’s Information Science program. I am looking forward to continuing my research on conceptions of technological harm for transgender users.
When you are not teaching/researching, what are your hobbies or interests?
I am really into traveling and exploring new places. It is something I hope to do a lot more of in the future. I also love going to new restaurants and cafes and just chatting with friends. I enjoy hiking and being in nature, but also watching Netflix or reading a book for some down-time. My biggest guilty pleasure is anime and I enjoy going to conventions, as well. I have an associate degree in photography, so that is another passion of mine.