Active Waiting Education (AWE)

In this research project, I consider the role of the waiting area as an informal learning environment where people can learn about relevant topics. In my initial study case, I focus on pediatric clinics and how patients and their families can learn about their bodies and health. I believe that the location and wait time provide an opportunity for educating patients on relevant health matters, and that health education is not properly considering the resources and materials available in this space.

Life on Earth

Life on Earth is an NSF-funded project that is exploring the use of multi-touch tabletop technology to create interactive museum exhibits on evolution. The Life on Earth project is a collaboration with Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Nebraska. Our partner museums include the Field Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and the University of Nebraska State Museum.


The B.E.A.M. is a tangible user interface designed to help teach mathematical concepts. This research considers the role of Montessori pedagogy and traditions in the design of new, digitally enhanced educational manipulative materials. From learning to stand and walk to solving complex physics problems, balance is a concept we encounter and adapt throughout life. This research aims to enhance the lessons along this path by creating a tool to reflect physical and symbolic implementations of a balance system connected with various virtual simulation results.

Conservation Kids

Conservation Kids is a research and design initiative with the goal of helping families reduce wasteful consumption of domestic resources such as water, electricity, and natural gas. Two research questions drive this work: First, how can we design technology to encourage entire families, children as well as adults, to become meaningful and active participants in the management of household resource consumption? And second, how can we design interactive systems that engage families in inquiry-based learning around concepts of consumption and sustainability?

Montessori Research

Using ethnographic data collection through weeks of observations, I analyzed behaviors in free-form learning environments to learn more about the practicalities and practices of the students. I focused on the routines of students in a Montessori classroom to learn more about how they use materials, how they communicate with each other, and how they spend their time.

Adolescent Friendship Formation in Second Life

Although there have been many studies of the effect that online friendships have on adolescents, fewer have investigated how young people form friendships online. Those that have studied online friendship have found that it is generally different than real-world friendship in form and function. This study applies Monge & Contractor’s (2003) Multi-theoretical Multilevel model to study the emergence of adolescent friendships in the online world. This study presents the results of a large scale social network analysis based on computer logs of friendships in Teen Second Life , an online social world for adolescents age 13-17.

Chicago Climate Action Plan

Engaging Chicago Communities in the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP) was a pilot research project commissioned by the City of Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) to begin identifying strategies for effectively engaging diverse communities throughout the city in the mitigation activities of the CCAP. The research was conducted over six months, from September 2008 through February 2009. It involved intense fieldwork in one community—South Chicago—as well as three city-wide focus groups, which provided a broader context for analyzing the community data.

Social Networks on Knowledge Sharing Websites

To solve the most critical intellectual and social problems, teams need to be made up of the best possible people, linked to the best possible resources. While there is growing awareness of the socio-economic consequences of team collaborations, there is little socio-technical understanding of how teams are assembled or how a given mode of assembly impacts its effectiveness. This project seeks to address this limitation by developing a theoretical framework to understand the socio-technical dynamics shaping the assembly of teams in virtual communities.


Anival (short for “Animation Festival”) project explored the design and development of an online community to support the collaborative creation of short animated films. Created a website to promote and study collaboration in the creation of animated movies. Designed and implemented the communication systems for collaboration teams and members of the site. Created a study centered on improving education in free form educational environments. Ran the study to research the influence of a workshop on the members’ maintenance of challenging long-term projects.