top of page


10+ years experience leading impactful human-centered and agile generative, usability, and end-to-end UX research projects


UX Research Lead & Research Professor
Segal Design Insitute, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University

2018 - Present

Led team of 4 UX researchers, a UX designer, a product strategist, & a product manager to a) uncover expert diabetes self-care workflow & b) conducted 5 design sprints to identify & fix usability issues in diabetes self-care e-learning technology—led redesign of site & service.

Methods: Task analysis, usability testing (remote), benchmarking, surveys, tree-tests.

Impact: Increased successful patient self-care from 25% to +90%—in prep. for clinical trial.

Led team of 2 UX researchers consulting for COPD medical start up Wellinks in a design sprint to uncover usability issues in real-world deployment of online L&D messaging tech.

Methods: Design sprints, usability testing (remote).

Impact: Validated usability in preparation for product launch. Identified usability issues for design team, including accessibility challenges (text size).

Co-led team of 3 UX researchers consulting for Pfizer in usability testing experiment with stratified randomization comparing two prototype instructions for covid medication.

Methods: Experiments, usability testing (remote).

Impact: Validated instructions helped 100% of participants to take correct dosage & identified informational architecture changes to improve usability.


UX Research Lead (Co-Founder) 

2015 - 2020

Led team of a UX designer, product manager & marketing strategist in generative research to identify needs of educators, admin, IT and students to inform product & business strategy—developed a L&D B2B subscription model to sell to school districts for teacher training.

Methods: Contextual inquiry, interviews, surveys.

Impact: Product strategy and vision led to £2,000,000+ funding from US R&D programs.


Led team of a UX researcher, UX designer, software engineer, & product manager to develop 3 L&D feedback technologies to provide feedback on work products (e.g. product designs) and conduct an experiment with 200 users with 50 products.

Methods: Experiments, usability testing, literature review, expert review.

Impact:  Validated one prototype as doubling quality of feedback (measured by expert review).


Led team of 2 UX researchers, a UX designers & a software engineer to discover differing communication norms between early career designers & their coaches, accounting for limited online coaching—designed messaging for L&D training site.

Methods:  Interviews, ethnography, log data analysis (analytics), benchmarking.

Impact:  Messaging software increased online coaching 21x compared to benchmark.


Led team of 2 UX researchers & 2 UX designers to identify supports needed for school teachers to make lesson improvements—designed & tested L&D project management tech.

Methods: Contextual inquiry, usability testing, benchmarking.

Impact:  Project management software increased the rate of lesson improvements by 50%.


UX Researcher
Design for America

2012 - 2015

Led team of 5 UX researchers to discover workflow of product designers to increase cadence of user testing—used insights to design enterprise system project management tool.

Methods:  Tasks analysis, usability testing, benchmarking.

Impact: 100% increase in testing cadence & evidence-based product improvements.


Led team of a UX researcher & 2 UX designer to create Design for America Process Guide.

Methods: Usability testing, field testing, design-thinking workshops.

Impact: Spread Process Guide to 2,000+ users. Won Core 77 Design Award.

UX Researcher & Learning Consultant

2011 - 2012

Codified practices of high performing UX team to create employee UX training.

Methods: Contextual inquiry, task analysis, interviews.

Impact: HR director adopted guide across the US as part of Global Insights Operating Model.

UX Researcher
Garibay Group

2011 - 2012

Validated the effectiveness of tech museum exhibit for increasing caregiver-child engagement.

Methods: Usability testing (video analysis).

Impact: Led to the installation of technology in 3 museums.


PHD — LEARNING SCIENCES* — 2013 - 2018
Delta Lab; School of Education & Social Policy 
Northwestern University
Advisors: Matthew Easterday; Elizabeth Gerber
Committee: Chris Riesbeck; Bruce Sherin

MA — LEARNING SCIENCES* — 2010 - 2011
Delta Lab; School of Education & Social Policy 
Northwestern University
Advisors: Jim Spillane

* combines UX Research, Cognitive Science, Sociology, & Education

School of Cultural and Community Studies
The University of Sussex




  • Pepper Scholar Fellowship. 2022.  “Leveraging Human-Computer Interaction and Learning Sciences to Support Older Adults’ Use of Telehealth Software for Chronic Disease Self-care”. National award for innovative research in healthcare ($100,000).

  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. 2020-22. Project: “Providing High-Quality Online Feedback to Support K-12 Teachers Instructional Improvement Through Principled Adaptation”. Global award for the top 30 high potential early career education researchers—awarded for my UX education research ($70,000).

  • Northwestern Segal Design Cluster Fellow. 2016. Award for top interdisciplinary Ph.D. researchers in design at Northwestern ($18,000).

  • Northwestern University Advanced Cognitive Science Fellow. 2014-15. Award for most promising Ph.D. students research in cognitive science ($36,000).

  • Northwestern University Cognitive Science Fellow. 2013-14. Award for promising first-year Ph.D. student research in cognitive science ($36,000).

  • Core 77 Design Awards: Runner Up: Best Education Initiative, 2014. (with collaborators).


  • Nguyen, M. (PI), Rees Lewis, D.G. (Co-PI), Easterday, M.W., (Co-PI), Gerber, E.M. (Co-PI). “The Loft: A Platform for Innovation Education”. NSF SBIR Phase I ($224,864). 2019.

  • Gerber, E.M. (PI), Rees Lewis, D.G. (Co-PI*), Lesser, J. (Co-PI), Shyrokova, A. (Co-PI), Nerenberg, S. (Co-PI), Easterday, M.W., (Co-PI).  “Design for America: A badge community for innovation” Digital Media Learning Competition Grant supported by the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations ($175,000). 2012-14. *Led writing and delivered pitch.

  • Easterday, M.W., (PI), Gerber, E.M. (Co-PI), Rees Lewis, D.G. (Co-PI & Entrepreneurial Lead). “The Loft: A digital studio for training networks of novice innovators”. National Science Foundation (US) I-Corps ($50,000, 2015.

  • Wallia A. (PI), Ackermann, R.T. (co-I), Ankenman B. (co-I), Cooper, S.B., Gatchell D. (co-I), Rees Lewis, D.G. (co-I), & Welty, L (co-I). “Adaptation Implementation and Testing of a Telehealth Diabetes Discharge Intervention to Improve Transitions of Care.” NIH ($331,746). 2021. National Institute of Health R01 ($331,746). 2021



  • Mentored 20+ early career UX researcher and project managers who now have positions at top tech companies (e.g., Meta, Peloton, Doximity, IBM, Google).


  • Human-centered Service Design

  • Design of Learning Environments

  • Qualitative Research Methods

bottom of page