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HCDE Students Presenting at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 12:17

The 17th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held on May 16, 2014 in Mary Gates Hall. Find the following teams of HCDE students presenting their latest research:

Analysis of Sentiment and Emotion on Crisis Tweets

  • Megan Torkildson, Senior, Human Ctr Des & Engr: Human-Computer Int
  • Cecilia Aragon, Human Centered Design & Engineering
  • Kate Starbird, Human Centered Design & Engineering

Understanding how people communicate during disasters is important for creating systems to support this communication. Twitter is commonly used to broadcast information from the ground and to organize support during times of need. During the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, Twitter was utilized for spreading information, sharing firsthand observations, and to voice concern about the situation. Through building a series of classifiers to detect emotion and sentiment, the distribution of emotion during the Gulf Oil Spill can be analyzed and its propagation compared against released information and corresponding events. I contribute a series of emotion classifiers trained from 4,000 tweets with preliminary results of accuracy between 51% and 70%. These classifiers are used to analyze the emotional impact of events, such as Obama’s Oval Office Address. A broader implication of this project includes analysis of other disaster datasets through utilizing our open-source visualization and classifiers.

Misinformation on Twitter After the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing

  • Stephen (Jim) Maddock, Senior, Human Centered Design & Engineering, History, Mary Gates Scholar
  • Kate Starbird, Human Centered Design & Engineering

This project – an ongoing collaboration between the Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation (emCOMP) and Social Media (SoMe) Laboratories at UW – investigated the spread of misinformation during the Boston Marathon Bombings over Twitter, ultimately leveraging social media in crisis situations for communication, news reporting, and aid coordination efforts. Thus far we classified six rumors within the roughly twenty million tweet dataset, isolated several temporal “signatures” representative of certain kinds of rumors, and identified tweet characteristics (URLs and location data, for instance) associated with either misinformation or correction. We then further investigated the role of URLs and domains in the spread of misinformation, postulating that outside sources play a significant role in the development of temporal signatures. Finally, using a combination of rumor classification and machine learning, we began to create an application that automatically identifies misinformation in real time as it spreads.

2-Stage Rockoon: High Altitude Launch Systems for High Powered Rocketry  

  • Erin McLean, Senior, Human Centered Design & Engineering
  • Craig Foulds, Senior, Physics: Applied Physics, Earth & Space Sciences (Physics)
  • Robert Winglee, Earth & Space Sciences

To escape Earth’s atmosphere, traditional high powered rockets require significant amounts of fuel. Rocket fuel is very expensive and often consumes a majority of the budget allotted for a rocket. In the 1950’s James Van Allen used weather balloons to lift rockets to high altitudes and take early video of solar activity. This rocket-balloon system, nicknamed the Rockoon, is a potentially cost-efficient way of conducting high altitude sounding experiments and putting low mass payloads in low earth orbit. By launching from high up in the atmosphere, the rocket uses less fuel because the distance to the desired altitude is shorter and the atmosphere is less dense, meaning less drag on the rocket. While Van Allen and others, such as JP Aerospace, have had successful Rockoon launches, they have all been sounding rockets (i.e. the rocket does not enter orbit but comes down after reaching apogee). The long-term goal of our research project is to use our Rockoon system to deliver a payload into a shallow orbit around the Earth. The Rockoon system uses two weather balloons to lift a two-stage high powered rocket and electronics package to a significant height. The rocket is remotely fired from the ground and recovered using GPS and radio frequency transmitters. In March of 2014, the two-stage rocket prototype was launched from an altitude of 5,000ft at Black Rock, NV. The rocket had a maximum velocity of Mach 2.2 and reached an apogee of ~45,000ft. The next phase of our research is to do an untethered launch at 100,000ft using a thermally insulated sounding rocket. By improving upon future iterations of the Rockoon, we can develop a system and instrumentation that can be used by a variety of professionals and amateurs as an affordable and faster method for delivering payloads to space.


  • Peng (Brian) Yin, Senior, Human Ctr Des & Engr: Human-Computer Int
  • Suzanne Dintzis, Pathology
  • Mara Rendi, Pathology
  • Jonathan Henriksen, Pathology

The discipline of Pathology has an enormous scope and students are constantly challenged to determine which topics are essential for clinical patient care and for the National Medical Board exams. There is a significant gap between the material presented in pathology textbooks and the material outlined in medical board review books. In addition, much of the practical knowledge that is most useful for medical students and physicians falls in between this gap. To address this need, we created PocketPath, a web-based modular teaching system, to help students and physicians consume Pathology material more efficiently. PocketPath is designed in an easy to read format that delivers an optimal amount of high yield pathology content, which includes USMLE Step 1 Board Review-style questions and important research papers. Using student surveys, interviews and web usage data, we determined how students consumed PocketPath’s content and improved their pathology test scores. Initial data suggests that PocketPath may replace lecture time, promote active learning, and potentially change the way students prepare for Board exams.

Paid Undergraduate Research Experience for Summer

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 08:48

Researchers at the UW iSchool are looking for an undergraduate student for a paid summer research experience.

Are you passionate about health? Are you in the know about social media trends? Do you like engaging users in research? Then we’ve got a project for you!

We are looking for undergraduates who have a knack for user research to join our project in health informatics. As a user researcher, you will join our energetic team in reaching out to users who have experienced with cancer. You will conduct interviews, surveys, usability testing, and qualitative coding.  As flourishing user researcher, you will join our team led by two iSchool faculty members Wanda Pratt and David McDonald for weekly team meetings.

If you are looking to gain research experience, earn some money, and find a compelling way to spend your summer – don’t pass up this opportunity for an exceptional summer research experience!

To inquire, please see requirements below. Then email (1) your resume and (2) 3–5 sentences describing your interest in this research project to Andrea Hartzler:

Project description

This project involves user research for connecting patients in online health communities. For more about our project see:


  • Ability to obtain human subjects certification on the job (or before)
  • Interest in engaging users in research
  • Coursework or experience in design thinking (e.g., Info 360) and research methods (e.g., Info 447)
  • Ability to work independently with research mentorship
  • Take part in weekly meetings with research team and mentor
  • Applicant must be working towards an undergraduate degree


  •  Coursework in web site development (e.g., Info 343) and information design (e.g., Info 444, Info 424)
  • A knack for user research thinking “outside the box” with example projects from coursework
  • Prior research experience
  • Interest in working with an multidisciplinary team