The following are projects I am working on in 2024-2025:

  • Identity presentation for language-capable robots in smart environments
  • Healthy aging and the future of tech support
  • Situational awareness, identity, and well-being in the age of distributed collaboration
  • Creativity, collaboration, and expressivity with generative AI

I am actively recruiting students for all of these projects. If you are a prospective student, here are some ways to work with me (categorized by level):

If you are a(n)…

Prospective PhD student

I am looking for PhD students to start in fall 2024 or later. Please send me an email with your CV/resume, an unofficial academic transcript, and an explanation of your interest in research (see the “Advice for getting in touch” section below).

You will also need to submit an application to the university and mention my name in your application. In your statement, discuss your specific research interests (remember: it’s a starting point, not a promise!) and describe why you want to pursue a PhD. Feel free to reach out to me at any point during your application process.

Most PhD students have a small amount of relevant (i.e., HCI, robotics, or HCI-/robotics-adjacent) research experience before they apply. Not all do, and this is not a requirement.

We admit students on a rolling basis, and they can start in fall or spring. The UML CIS Graduate Program website is a useful resource for information about the application progress, the graduate curricula, etc.

MS student already at UMass Lowell

I advise MS students on independent studies for course credit, supervise their theses, and pay them as RAs. Send me an email with your CV and a brief description of your research interests. If you have no prior experience with HCI or with user studies, I will probably recommend that you take HCI, HRI, or a related class before applying for a research position.

Undergraduate student already at UMass Lowell

The university runs several programs to facilitate research opportunities for undergraduate students, such as Immersive Scholars and the River Hawk Scholars Academy Roads to Research program. If you are a part of one of these programs, please look for announcements from them about research opportunities; they’ll usually include a listing from me called “research in HCI” or similar (I’m recruiting Immersive Scholars for the 2024-2025 academic year right now!).

Whether or not these university-facilitated paths to research are available to you, you can also reach out to me on your own – see the “MS students” section above.

Undergraduate student not at UMass Lowell

I do not have any opportunities for non-UML undergraduate researchers right now, but I may in the future. Please keep an eye on this page.

Advice for getting in touch

I receive a lot of emails asking about research opportunities. Unfortunately, I cannot reply to all of them right away, and there are many that I cannot get to at all.

When you email me to ask about available research positions, the likelihood of receiving a useful response is largely dependent on three things:

1. Relevance of your email to my research

In all of my work, I work directly with humans to design and study technology that fits usefully into people’s lives.

Here are some heuristics to check if you’re not sure if what you want to do is a good fit for my lab:

  • If your research idea doesn’t involve humans at all, it is not a good fit for my lab.
  • If your idea involves humans only to the extent that they generate data that systems can use, it’s highly unlikely that it is a good fit.
  • If you have a hard time identifing the human component of your idea, it is probably either not a good fit or needs more time to mature in order to become a good fit.

I receive a lot of emails from students who say they are interested in areas that I do not do work in. I try to respond to these students to point them in a helpful direction, but I cannot get to all of them. It’s much more likely you’ll receive a response if it is immediately evident from your email that you have a genuine and informed interest in HCI (“I want to make user-friendly systems” is generally not enough).

3. Your experience and skills

A wide variety of skills – including several that fall outside the usual umbrella of CS – are useful for doing HCI research. Different projects also require different skills. Projects in our lab need front-end designers and shop engineers who can make and test prototypes, creatives to help bring possible futures to life, competent programmers to build systems and make robots do things, and “people people” who can conduct in-depth interviews with participants.

I am usually open to exploring new research topics that students propose to me so long as they are somehow related to people, intelligent systems, and user-centered design. Therefore, there is no overarching, particular profile I’m looking for when I scan student emails. It is helpful (and may at times be necessary) to have some experience – which can be anything from a hobby project to a class project to a published paper – with one or more of the tasks involved in my research, such as experimental design, prototyping, or stakeholder interviews.

2. Timing

At the very busy beginning and end of the semester, I (like many students and professors) deal with a large volume of email and a lot of start-up and wind-down tasks. While I aim to process everything that comes into my inbox, emails are more likely to get lost in the shuffle during these time periods. The same is true when I’m traveling (and I try to set up autoresponders to reflect this).

The other timing-related consideration is that funding and lab personnel situations change frequently, and this impacts what kinds of student positions are available and the kinds of projects I can advise.

If you don’t get a response from me, feel free to nudge your message.

General advice on emailing faculty

Please feel free to take a look at my guide to emailing faculty, which is intended as a general guide (not necessarily specific to me), to read some advice about how to make it more likely that faculty will get back to you in a timely manner.