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HCDE students awarded Graduate Research Fellowships

Leah Pistorius
April 1, 2021

Jay Cunningham, Neilly Herrera Tan, and Emma McDonnell, PhD students in Human Centered Design & Engineering, have received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, and PhD student Akeiylah DeWitt is recognized with an Honorable Mention from the National Science Foundation.

LogoThe National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, or NSF GRFP, recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees to be paid to the institution. They also gain opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

Find details below about the research the HCDE students will be pursuing in the coming years.

HeadshotJay Cunningham
HCDE PhD student

I am a Computational Social Scientist and my work explores the social and ethical implications of race, culture, identity, and power at the intersection of AI, mixed-reality and ubiquitous computing. I am particularly interested in fairness, accountability, transparency, & ethics (F.A.T.E.) in AI. Holistically, I am working to understand how complexities of design techniques, automated systems, and digital media impact, oppress, and engage society.

With support from the NSF, I am empowered to continue my pursuit of knowledge and research in human-centered AI, tackling coded bias, and deconstructing systems of oppression. My current agenda investigates the relationship between low-resourced ethnic minority and multicultural communities and financial technology (fintech) applications.

HeadshotNeilly Herrera Tan
HCDE PhD student

My research broadly focuses on personal data, privacy, and IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Specifically, I investigate the smart home camera as one form of IoT where many tensions with personal data and privacy exist, especially when considering non-consenting individuals and non-primary users of this technology. 

With support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, I hope to continue engaging in research that centers these often left-out and marginalized perspectives with IoT technology through critique, speculation, and reflection.

HeadshotEmma McDonnell
HCDE PhD student

I am an accessibility researcher particularly interested in building and studying tools that aim to foster accessible social dynamics. Right now I am exploring how live feedback can support mixed groups of hearing and d/Deaf and hard of hearing people in adopting captioning-friendly norms during online captioned conversations. My work draws from HCI, design, disability studies, and Deaf studies perspectives.

With support from the NSF I am excited to continue investigating ways to support group use of real-time captioning and, more broadly, exploring ways that technology can position accessibility as a shared responsibility.

HCDE also congratulates PhD student Akeiylah DeWitt on receiving an Honorable Mention from National Science Foundation, a significant academic achievement that recognizes DeWitt for her research potential. Learn more about the NSF GRFP, here.