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Future Students

PhD Grad Ambassadors

The Human Centered Design & Engineering PhD Graduate Ambassador program enables prospective students to learn from the experiences of current HCDE doctoral students.

Meet with a phd grad ambassador

Graduate Ambassadors

Jeffrey Basoah

Hello! I'm Jeff (he/him), a Ghanaian native raised in Northern Virginia. I'm a second-year PhD student in HCDE, focusing on understanding the unintended impacts of everyday digital and AI technology on our lives. My research specifically delves into the Black user experience with AI technology, exploring their expectations, experiences, and perceptions in this evolving space. I chose HCDE because the faculty and administration are genuinely dedicated to student success. They've fostered a supportive community where everyone contributes to each other's growth and success. I feel truly supported here. If you have any questions about the program, living in Seattle, grad school, or research alignment, feel free to reach out via email (

Leslie Coney

Hey! I’m Leslie (she/her), a Chicago native and Howard University alumna. I’m a third-year PhD student in HCDE and my research interests are Black maternal health and health equity. I decided to pursue a PhD because I wanted my work to be meaningful and impactful to communities I care about. I love the flexibility and freedom in HCDE to pursue what YOU’RE interested in. I look forward to the impactful contributions I will make to HCDE, the HCI community, and more importantly, Black birthing people across the world! Currently, I aspire to turn my research into a non-profit or social impact business and teach at an HBCU after obtaining my PhD. You can connect with me on LinkedIn :)

Sourojit Ghosh

Hi! My name is Sourojit Ghosh (pronouns: he/him), and I also go by G! I am a fourth year PhD student in HCDE, and I was driven by this department's commitment to interdisciplinary and collaborative research to come here and pursue my PhD. Several other institutions I applied to asked me to put away my Creative Writing minor and focus on my "more serious" Computer Science background, something that I was vehemently opposed to. Everyday, HCDE gives me the opportunity to practice skills from both parts of my background and confirms that my choice was right! My research is centered around studying human-centeredness in social recommender systems and designing such systems, as I explore questions of harm caused by existing social recommender systems towards traditionally marginalized populations. My interests are situated in the broad space of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within designed systems, as I also incorporate into my work other topics such as advocating for supporting HyFlex modalities of learning to improve accessibility, and stronger and more accurate representation for low-resource languages in machine translation systems. Upon graduating, I aim to be a faculty member at a department with similar values as HCDE! Feel free to schedule a meeting with me, on my Calendly.

Brett Halperin

My research integrates HCI and design with cinema and media studies. At this nexus, I focus on how filmmakers resist, reimagine, and reckon with generative AI. More broadly, I investigate computational media and film production, primarily in labor and grassroots organizing contexts, from a design lens. I largely draw upon critical theories as well as participatory, community-based, and speculative methods that seek to rework the normative orientations of technology development. In turn, I work toward developing novel approaches and recommendations that can enhance design, practice, and policy. 

Before coming to HCDE, I worked as a Senior User Experience Designer at digital agencies and management consultancies. On the side, I also worked with grassroots projects and collectives. Before that, I studied at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. If I can be of any help, please say hello via email: bhalp at uw dot edu.

Adam Hyland

Hi! I'm Adam Hyland, a PhD student working in Charlotte Lee's lab. I am interested in how communities of practice (often but not always engineering communities) coordinate around standards, standards processes, and things which look a bit like standards but aren’t. I care a lot about making the invisible parts of systems all around us easier to understand. Not just so we become better informed (which is cool) but so we are equipped to play with, break, and transform those systems (which is way cooler).

One thing I love about HCDE is that I can connect history to human uses of engineering! Right now I'm researching how we standardized computer arithmetic--when computers were first designed to be a programmer or engineer working at the interface of humans and computers was in some sense to be someone who deeply understood arithmetic. That's not true anymore. We've opened up both computer use and computer programming to a much wider range of people. How that happened and what that means for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the story I'm telling and HCDE is the only place in the world where that story can be told in full.

I also love teaching and have gotten to do quite a lot of it at HCDE. Please see my website for other stuff I'm interested in and my contact information:

Joey Schafer

Hi! My name is Joey Schafer (he/him), and I’m a 2nd-year PhD student advised by Kate Starbird. I did my undergraduate degree at UW in the department of Computer Science, so I was thrilled to be able to continue at UW in grad school. I have really appreciated the support for interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse research that HCDE has, and the broad array of questions that are supported. My primary research interests are focused on online influencers and misinformation, and in particular how people react to receiving sudden attention online, but I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of other projects both within HCDE (working with Mark Zachry and Daniela Rosner, and many of the other wonderful PhD students in the department), and outside of the department, with colleagues in the UW iSchool, Computer Science, Political Science, and Sociology. After I obtain my Ph.D., I hope to become a professor at a department that supports the kind of interdisciplinary, collaborative environment HCDE has cultivated. Feel free to reach out via email (, or on Calendly. Thanks! 

Mina Zavary

Hi there, I'm Mina (she/her)! I'm a first-year PhD student in HCDE and I also graduated from the HCDE BS program last year. My research is centered around education, everyday forms of data and data practices, and participatory design. I was drawn to the program because of its interdisciplinary nature and the opportunity to continue to foster my interest in usability and UX research/design. As a first-gen student, I am excited to talk to people navigating the Ph.D. application process that have had access and/or support barriers. I am also happy to talk about my experiences with disability and religious accommodations or just navigating with those identities in research and higher education settings. Feel free to reach out via email (