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Speaker Narges Mahyar

Thursday, April 21 2022

Room 1-441  Frances Searle


The Center for Human-Computer Interaction + Design and TSB are proud to host Narges Mahyar. 


Public participation is a pillar of a functioning democracy. Current technology for facilitating public  participation has been focused on broadening access and data collection from the public. However, these  technologies still face several challenges in democratizing public participation, especially for marginalized  populations and integrating data analysis into civic decision-making processes. In this talk, I present examples of  my recent work on building and studying social computing tools to democratize civic data collection and  visualization techniques to empower the general public to understand and explore data around complex  sociotechnical problems such as urban design and climate change. These examples demonstrate applications of 1) collaborative technologies and interactive visualization to increase public engagement, 2) low barrier 

technology to engage reticent participants to provide feedback during town hall meetings, 3) online platforms and  crowdsourcing techniques to scale public participation and empower the public to contribute meaningfully in a short  amount of time, and 4) visualization tools to enable civic leaders to make sense of a large amount of public input. I  describe a vision for expanding my research by building novel tools and visualization techniques to  empower the public to understand the data that is increasingly part of their lives and to be able to take a more active  role in shaping civic policies. 

Narges Mahyar is an Assistant Professor in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the  University of Massachusetts Amherst. Narges’s research falls at the intersection of visualization, social  computing, and design with the goal of augmenting groups’ abilities to solve complex problems. She designs,  develops, and evaluates novel social computing and visualization techniques that help people (both experts and non 

experts) make better decisions. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, an MS in  Information Technology from the University of Malaya, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tehran  Azad University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University  of British Columbia from 2014 to 2016 and in the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego from  2016 to 2018. Her recognition in the field has been repeatedly confirmed through many accolades for her research,  including two Best Paper awards from the ACM Conferences on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work  and Social Computing 2020, and IEEE Conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology 2014; an  Outstanding Paper award from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2017, and two Honorable  Mention awards from the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems 2021 and from Interactive Surfaces  and Spaces 2016. Her research is supported by several NSF grants. She has served as a Program Co-Chair for  ACM Creativity and Cognition and Fast Forward Co-Chair for IEEE VIS and served on several program  committees for premier venues in her field.

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