Brown Bag Lunch Schedule

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The HCIL has an open semi-organized weekly "brown bag lunch (BBL)" on every Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm in HCIL (2105 Hornbake, South Wing). The topics range from someone's work, current interest to the HCIL, a software demo/review, a study design, a proposed research topic, an introduction to a new person, etc. The BBL is the one hour a week where we all come together--thus, it’s a unique time for HCIL members with unique opportunities to help build collaborations, increase awareness of each other’s activities, and generally just have a bit of fun together with free food every week.

To sign up for a session, send an email to BBL student co-coordinator Arunesh Mathur ( or Daniel Pauw ( In the email, briefly describe the topic and preferred dates.

To get notified about upcoming events, please subscribe one of these mailing lists.

We thank YAHOO for its sponsorship of the HCIL Brown Bag Lunches Yahoo.jpg.

Fall 2015 Schedule

Date Leader Topic
01/29/2015 Catherine Plaisant
Associate Director of Research HCIL (link)

HCIL's work and its influence

Abstract: An informal discussion as we watch old videos and discuss early work on hypertext, touchscreens sliders, query previews, bringing treasures to the surface, Lifelines, etc. This may be particularly illuminating to those of you that are younger… than the internet. View the history of the HCIL

02/05/2015 Karthik Badam
PhD Student, Department of Computer Science

Cross-Device Frameworks for Collaborative Visualization

Abstract: Collaborative Visualization focuses on shared use of interactive visual representations of data by a group engaged in joint information processing. However, to fully exploit this, we need to also bring cross-device interaction into picture considering that we carry more than a single device these days. In our research, we created two frameworks— Munin and PolyChrome— for building collaborative visualizations on multiple input and output surfaces, such as tabletop displays, wall-mounted displays, and mobile devices. These frameworks follows a layered architecture to abstract out the communication, interaction, and visualization requirements for the aforementioned. Furthermore, PolyChrome utilizes the web as a medium for collaborative visualization while maintaing a server for persistent storage of visualizations and user interaction over time.

Using these two frameworks, we are currently working on 1) development of advanced interaction models for large display environments based on proxemics: the spatial attributes of users such as position, orientation, and distance, and 2) easing the process of collaboration in analytical activities by designing smart ways to share information (for instance, using QR codes).

02/12/2015 Jack Kustanowitz
Principal at MountainPass Technology (link)

BusWhere - Never Miss the School Bus Again

Abstract: BusWhere is a startup that we are working on in parallel with our client work, and it is geared at allowing parents and school bus administrators to track their children's school bus location to meet the bus in the morning and afternoon on time with no uncertainty or waiting around in the cold. We will discuss the history of the company, where things stand now, some technical and business challenges, and open the floor for questions and/or suggestions. We are in beta now at a couple of schools and will be going mass market in the coming months, so it is an interesting point of inflection / reflection.

Bio: Jack founded MountainPass Technology in early 2010 to be the technology partner he was always looking for in previous management roles. Jack has over 18 years of experience managing teams to create and deploy intuitive, attractive, scalable, and secure mobile applications and web applications. On iOS and Android, he worked extensively on the NPR Music and News apps (with millions of downloads), and led development of several other apps including Behavioral Apptivation, Whooley, GrapeVine, iCall4Help, HabitWatch, SeasonClock, and others. He led teams to create user-facing web sites such as,,, and, did extensive work on back end systems to support the and (each with millions of PV/month), and worked with MedText and Privia Health on a full application redesign and HIPAA compliance audit. He also has expertise in setting up operational infrastructure, data warehousing, CPL advertising and lead generation, and email deliverability, and has provided consulting for dozens of companies on a variety of technical challenges.

Jack has a BS in Computer Systems Engineering from Boston University, and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, where he did research at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. He grabs time when he can to play through some Beethoven piano sonatas and is looking forward to hiking with his two sons over an actual mountain pass when they get old enough.

02/19/2015 Jeff Rick
Developer and Researcher, ScienceKit project (link)

Two kids, one iPad

Abstract: Multi-touch devices are starting to replace PCs as the dominant form of computing, particularly for children. As a result, serious efforts are underway to investigate and integrate tablets into the classroom. Most of these research efforts are software agnostic, assuming that the current software ecology is sufficient to realize and study the potential of the hardware. In such a research mode, it is natural to think of tablets as personal devices since the vast majority of software is built around that premise (e.g., tablets as ebooks). Can they be more? Can tablets support collaborative learning?

In this talk, I present a vision of tablets as tiny tabletops to support at-device collaboration. We developed the Proportion iPad app to realize and study this vision. In Proportion, two children work at one tablet to complete a series of increasingly difficult ratio / proportion problems. In our studies at German primary schools (grade 4, age 9-11), we used Proportion to study the role of collaboration and multi-touch. I will present both early empirical findings across conditions and a case study of a particularly successful group.

Bio: Jochen "Jeff" Rick designs innovative and effective applications for the newest technologies to research the potential of these technologies to support collaborative, social, and exploratory forms of learning. With an M.S. Electrical Engineering (1999, Georgia Tech) and a Ph.D. Computer Science (2007, Georgia Tech), he feels comfortable developing for emerging platforms. He developed CoWeb, the first wiki designed to support learning, well before Wikipedia existed. He developed DigiTile, a tabletop application for two children to collaboratively learn about fractions through constructing colorful mosaic tiles, before there was a commercial touch tabletop. As an experienced designer (two major server technologies, six applications for interactive tabletops, two applications for tablets, two applications for multiple devices, etc.), he seeks to realize the future of learning technologies. He is the lead developer on UMCP's Science Everywhere project.

02/26/2015 Wei Bai
PhD student, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (link)

BrowserCrypt: A Research on Encryption Usability

Abstract: Using encryption tool is the only way to truly protect users’ confidentiality from third-party services. Although many encryption tools have been designed so far, they have been tested for usability either only in the lab or not at all. In this talk, we will present our research of usability about a particular encryption tool, called BrowserCrypt. First, we will talk about the overall design about this in-the-field study. Specifically, the usability of BrowserCrypt ignoring key management issue is detailed. Second, we will present our progress so far, including how BrowserCrypt works on Piazza and the data we have collected. Then, the challenges and limitations we encountered will be described, and our corresponding solutions will be proposed. Finally, we will introduce the future work.

Bio: Wei Bai is the third-year Ph. D student in ECE department. He obtained this B.S in Electrical Engineering from Beihang University, Beijing, China in 2012 with distinction. He is currently working with Prof. Michelle Mazurek in Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2). His research interests include cyberattack detection and mitigation, and human factors for security and privacy.

(Cancelled due to snow)
Kurt Luther
Center for Human-Computer Interaction, Virginia Tech (link)

Designing Social Technologies for Creativity and Discovery

Abstract: Computing has given rise to a wide range of software tools for supporting all stages of a creative process, from ideation and prototyping to disseminating finished creative works. More recently, these tools have begun to incorporate social elements, drawing on a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of collaboration for enhancing creativity. Crowdsourcing platforms like Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which allow software developers to programmatically seek out human workers to complete online micro-tasks and integrate the results directly into a user interface, suggest exciting new opportunities to design social technologies that support creative processes. In this talk, I will describe some of my recent projects in this space. These include Pipeline, a tool for supporting leaders of artistic collaborations organized online; and CrowdCrit, a system that crowdsources critiques of visual designs and aggregates the results for designers. I will also present some preliminary work using social technologies to help solve historical mysteries. Throughout the talk, I will identify broader theoretical and design implications for social computing and creativity support tools.

Bio: Kurt Luther is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, where he is also a member of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction and a faculty affiliate in Human Centered Design. His general research interests include social computing, crowdsourcing, and creativity support tools. Specifically, he builds and studies social computing systems that support creativity and discovery, with applications to citizen science, movie and game production, visual design, digital humanities, and other domains. His research has been featured by TIME, CNN, and Harvard Business Review. Previously, he was a postdoc in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech, where he was named a Foley Scholar, the GVU Center's highest honor. His undergraduate degree is from Purdue University, where he studied computer graphics, art, and design. He has also worked in the Social Computing groups at Microsoft Research and IBM Research, and the User Experience team at YouTube.

03/12/2015 Michele Williams
PhD student, Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) (link)

SWARM: Sensing Whether Affect Requires Mediation

Abstract: SWARM (Sensing Whether Affect Requires Mediation) is a wearable affective technology designed to allow a user to reflect on their own emotional state, help a user modify their affect, and help a user to interpret the emotional states of others. SWARM aims for a universal design (inclusive of people with various disabilities), with a focus on modular actuation components to accommodate users’ sensory capabilities and preferences, and a scarf form-factor meant to reduce the stigma of accessible technologies through a fashionable embodiment. Using an iterative, user-centered approach, this talk presents SWARM’s design and additionally contributes findings for best practices in creating personal emotion management systems, communicating emotions through technology actuations, wearable design techniques (including a modular soft circuit design technique that fuses conductive fabric with actuation components), and universal design considerations for wearable technology.

Bio: Michele A. Williams is a Human-Centered Computing PhD candidate at UMBC. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Bowie State University and a Masters of Software Engineering from Auburn University where she concentrated in human-computer interaction and her thesis consisted of a multimodal intelligent tutoring system. She has worked in industry as both a Voice User Interface Designer for IVR systems and an Accessibility Analyst evaluating systems for compliance with accessibility standards. Her doctoral research has included several projects focused on making technology more accessible for people with disabilities including using wearable computing and social collaboration to make “accessible fashion” and conducting studies to inform the design of mobile navigation technology for people with vision impairments.

Spring Break
(no food)
Sana Malik
UMD CS PhD Candidate (link)

IUI '15 Practice Talk

Abstract: Finding the differences and similarities between two datasets is a common analytics task. With temporal event sequence data, this task is complex because of the many ways single events and event sequences can differ between the two datasets (or cohorts) of records: the structure of the event sequences (e.g., event order, co-occurring events, or event frequencies), the attributes of events and records (e.g., patient gender), or metrics about the timestamps themselves (e.g., event duration). In exploratory analyses, running statistical tests to cover all cases is time-consuming and determining which results are significant becomes cumbersome. Current analytics tools for comparing groups of event sequences emphasize a purely statistical or purely visual approach for comparison. This paper presents a taxonomy of metrics for comparing cohorts of temporal event sequences, showing that the problem-space is bounded. We also present a visual analytics tool, CoCo (for “Cohort Comparison”), which implements balanced integration of automated statistics with an intelligent user interface to guide users to significant, distinguishing features between the cohorts. Lastly, we describe two early case studies: the first with a research team studying medical team performance in the emergency department and the second with pharmacy researchers.

Bio: I'm a 4th-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science and the HCIL.

03/26/2015 Hyojoon Kim
PhD Student, Georgia Institute of Technology (link)

uCap: An Internet Data Management Tool for the Home

Abstract: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have introduced “data caps”, or quotas on the amount of data that a customer can download during a billing cycle. Under this model, Internet users who reach a data cap can be subject to degraded performance, extra fees, or even temporary interruption of Internet service. For this reason, users need better visibility into and control over their Internet usage to help them understand what uses up data and control how these quotas are reached. In this paper, we present the design and implementation of a tool, called uCap, to help home users manage Internet data. We conducted a field trial of uCap in 21 home networks in three countries and performed an in-depth qualitative study of ten of these homes. We present the results of the evaluation and implications for the design of future Internet data management tools.

Bio: Hyojoon Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the supervision of Professor Nick Feamster. He is broadly interested in computer networks and systems, but currently focus more on network configuration analysis, network reliability enhancement, and building better abstractions for network management. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from University of Wisconsin - Madison and M.S. from Georgia Tech. In the past, he has worked as a research engineer at Future Systems, a major manufacturer of network & security solutions in South Korea, and did several internships at HP Labs-Palo Alto, CA, USA.

04/02/2015 Matthew Mauriello
PhD Student, Department of Computer Science (link)

CHI Practice Talk: Understanding the role of thermography in energy auditing: current practices and the potential for automated solutions

Abstract: (Video Preview) The building sector accounts for 41% of primary energy consumption in the US, contributing an increasing portion of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. With recent sensor improvements and falling costs, auditors are increasingly using thermography—infrared (IR) cameras—to detect thermal defects and analyze building efficiency. Research in automated thermography has grown commensurately, aimed at reducing manual labor and improving thermal models. Though promising, we could find no prior work exploring the professional auditor’s perspectives of thermography or reactions to emerging automation. To address this gap, we present results from two studies: a semi-structured interview with 10 professional energy auditors, which includes design probes of five automated thermography scenarios, and an observational case study of a residential audit. We report on common perspectives, concerns, and benefits related to thermography and summarize reactions to our automated scenarios. Our findings have implications for thermography tool designers as well as researchers working on automated solutions in robotics, computer science, and engineering.

Meethu Malu
PhD Student, Department of Computer Science (link)

CHI Practice Talk: Personalized, Wearable Control of a Head-mounted Display for Users with Upper Body Motor Impairments

Abstract: Head-mounted displays provide relatively hands-free interaction that could improve mobile computing access for users with motor impairments. To investigate this largely unexplored area, we present two user studies. The first, smaller study evaluated the accessibility of Google Glass, a head-mounted display, with 6 participants. Findings revealed potential benefits of a head-mounted display yet demonstrated the need for alternative means of controlling Glass—3 of the 6 participants could not use it at all. We then conducted a second study with 12 participants to evaluate a potential alternative input mechanism that could allow for accessible control of a head-mounted display: switch-based wearable touchpads that can be affixed to the body or wheelchair. The study assessed input performance with three sizes of touchpad, investigated personalization patterns when participants were asked to place the touchpads on their body or wheelchair, and elicited subjective responses. All 12 participants were able to use the touchpads to control the display, and patterns of touchpad placement point to the value of personalization in providing support for each user’s motor abilities.

04/09/2015 Fan Du
PhD Student, Department of Computer Science (link)

CHI Practice Talk: Trajectory Bundling for Animated Transitions

Abstract: Animated transition has been a popular design choice for smoothly switching between different visualization views or layouts, in which movement trajectories are created as cues for tracking objects during location shifting. Tracking moving objects, however, becomes difficult when their movement paths overlap or the number of tracking targets increases. We propose a novel design to facilitate tracking moving objects in animated transitions. Instead of simply animating an object along a straight line, we create "bundled" movement trajectories for a group of objects that have spatial proximity and share similar moving directions. To study the effect of bundled trajectories, we untangle variations due to different aspects of tracking complexity in a comprehensive controlled user study. The results indicate that using bundled trajectories is particularly effective when tracking more targets (six vs. three targets) or when the object movement involves a high degree of occlusion or deformation. Based on the study, we discuss the advantages and limitations of the new technique, as well as provide design implications.

Leyla Norooz
PhD Student, iSchool (link)

CHI Practice Talk: BodyVis: A New Approach to Body Learning Through Wearable Sensing and Visualization

Abstract: (Video Preview) Internal organs are hidden and untouchable, making it difficult for children to learn their size, position, and function. Traditionally, human anatomy (body form) and physiology (body function) are taught using techniques ranging from worksheets to three-dimensional models. We present a new approach called BodyVis, an e-textile shirt that combines biometric sensing and wearable visualizations to reveal otherwise invisible body parts and functions. We describe our 15-month iterative design process including lessons learned through the development of three prototypes using participatory design and two evaluations of the final prototype: a design probe interview with seven elementary school teachers and three single- session deployments in after-school programs. Our findings have implications for the growing area of wearables and tangibles for learning.

04/16/2015 Yla Tausczik
Assistant Professor, iSchool (link)

Open Government Data and Civic Applications: What would successful collaboration look like?

Abstract: A growing number of governments are opening their data to the general public. The hope is that citizens and business will be able to transform the data into insights, services, and products that will provide social and economic value. Grassroots organizations and non-profits have begun to make use of the data through the development of civic applications. In this talk I focus on a network of 48 city level organizations. I compare these organizations to the open-source software community. By analyzing GitHub repositories, I evaluate how many civic applications are being created, how many people are involved, and how many of these projects last. Finally I imagine how community design, collaboration tools, and crowdsourcing techniques could be leveraged to better support distributed analysis of open government data.

Heather Bradbury
Maryland Institute College of Art

Building a Plane in Mid-air

Abstract: How do you launch a new program in an emerging field at an established design school – data, information, and visualization. When the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) decided to create a new graduate program in Information Visualization, there was a document and a great deal of confidence that the program would help take the college in a new direction. This talk will tell the story of pits and perils of how the program moved from an idea, to launch, to bringing its fourth year of students, and how data, information, and visualization was the pilot, engineer, and passenger.

Bio: Heather Bradbury, Director of MICA’s Masters of Professional Studies programs in Information Visualization and the Business of Art and Design, comes to MICA with over 15 years of experience in the fields of creative and educational project development and strategic communication. Heather’s background and broad professional experience, including Communications Specialist at the Maryland State Department of Education, Office of the State Superintendent; IDEAS Grants Manager and Education Specialist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (Home of Hubble Space Telescope); and co-owner of Balance-the Salon, an award-winning hair salon and photo gallery, provides her with a unique perspective in business operations and management as well as communication through various mediums to tell stories. Heather has additional experience working in the fields of architecture/interior design, engineering, catering, and production pottery.

04/30/2015 Andrea Forte
Associate Professor of College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel University (link)

Social Information Spaces: Designing for Smart(er) Societies

Abstract: People are pretty smart. When someone uses bad information, it’s often because the tools they use to find that information were not designed to support good assessments. The need for an integrated HCI response to the problem of information assessment is critical in an age of participatory information sources like Wikipedia, Wikia sites, Reddit, and These are information sources produced and curated by thousands of contributors using collaboration or aggregation platforms. Such technologies can be designed to support human needs in different ways; for example, they can be designed using well-understood principles of usability, accessibility, or ergonomics. However, HCI currently lacks a shared vocabulary for talking about “assessability” — those properties of designed spaces that allow people to make good judgments about the information they encounter there. Assessable designs don’t just deliver assessments of information quality, but support people in getting *better* at judging the information they encounter online.

Bio: Andrea Forte ( is an assistant professor in the College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University. Her work focuses on how social technologies can be designed to support the development of both information and computational literacies. Andrea's research spans several disciplines and she regularly publishes in the areas of human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work and social computing (CSCW), computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL), computing education, and library science. She is a research leader at Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center. Her current projects are supported by the National Science Foundation and Institute for Museum and Library Services. She is an NSF CAREER award winner, holds a PhD in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

05/07/2015 Peter Teuben
Astronomy dept (link)

Interface design for the Analysis and Data Mining of the large data coming out of the ALMA telescope

Abstract: ALMA telescope is a large radio interferometer in Chile, operated by a large international consortium (Europe, North America, and Japan), and is starting to show groundbreaking new science. The data products will be delivered a series of large data cubes, requiring detailed analysis to get down to the real science. I will explain the ALMA data format, and what we are proposing to do to extract science and visualize these complex results to the user. We have played with some GUI designs, but decided on a pragmatic approach, to adopt and adapt an existing web interface that ALMA is using. We are looking forward to your feedback and suggestions to improve the design.

05/14/2015 CHI-tacular
Come talk (and listen) about the HCIL's time at CHI 2015!

Past Brown Bags

Past Brown Bag schedules are archived here.

BBL Coordinators

Learn more about the BBL student (co-)coordinator position.