I'm Karen. I'm a UX researcher, interaction designer, and software developer.

about me

I'm a North Carolina transplant who now lives in Pittsburgh. I'm passionate about building great user experiences. I work at the intersection of design, research, and software development. One of my current projects is a startup I co-founded called Tagalong Tour. Previously, I worked as UX Researcher in the LUCI and STAR labs in the School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. My main researh focus then was in the area of mobile health and consumer health apps. I earned my Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). As a graduate student, I was the recipient of an AT&T Labs Fellowship, an Intel Corporation Ph.D. Fellowship, and a Northrop Grumman scholarship. At CMU, I worked in the CHIMPS lab, researching usable privacy and mobile computing apps. I received a B.S.E. with honors from Princeton University. I majored in Electrical Engineering, with minors in Computer Science and Engineering Biology. My past industry work experiences have included positions at Red Hat, Intel Labs, AT&T Labs Research, and Microsoft. Outside of work, you'll likely find me practicing martial arts. I've studied Tae Kwon Do, Seido Karate, and am now practicing an Eskrima/Filipino-based martial art.

my work process

Whenever possible, I practice a user-centered design (UCD) process. I start by understanding the needs, wants, and abilities of the target user. Depending on the domain I'm working in, several methods can be used at this stage, such as field research, literature review, competitive analysis, and surveys. Based on both qualitative and quantitative data from these methods, I extract important themes and patterns, which I then translate into design opportunities. Ideation and brainstorming follows, and with methods like grounded theory analysis, affinity diagrams,personas, and storyboarding I can par the pool down to a few worthy design candidates. From them, I prototype the design solutions, find the one that works best and fully implement that one. Once I have something that's testable, I iteratively evaluate, analyze, and improve the product.

I like to think of myself as an end-to-end prototyper, in the sense that I'm drawn to all stages of the UCD process. In particular, I'm a big fan of prototyping and building. I find that creating something tangible that can be put into users' hands is extremely fulfilling. It gives me a chance to validate design decisions that were made earlier and can lead to more refined prototypes in further iterations.