Bio

I am currently the Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at Northwestern University. I am also an Assistant Professor in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. From January 2015 to July 2018 I was an Assistant Professor in the iSchool at University of Washington and an adjunct Assistant Professor at UW CSE, where I was a member of the Interactive Data Lab and the DataLab. Before this (2014) I was a postdoc at UC Berkeley Computer Science, working with Maneesh Agrawala (supported by Tableau Software). My Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan School of Information, where I worked with Eytan Adar (advisor), Priti Shah, and others. Before I got my Ph.D., I earned a Masters of Science in Information Analysis and Retrieval at the University of Michigan, with the original goal of doing natural language processing, though visualization eventually won out!

Learn more about my current research.

Background

Before doing a masters and Ph.D., I vacillated more or less continuously between science and arts. On the arts side, I had a longtime interest in critical theory and writing. I switched majors as an undergrad from hard sciences to Comparative Studies, which was fitting label given the wide variety of courses I took. Fascinated with the idea of dedicating myself to experimental writing, I next did an M.F.A in Writing and Prose Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, CO, chasing an interest in exploring the boundaries of experimention with language (i.e., language poetry and hybrid prose). I spent more time than expected studying critical aesthetic theory during the M.F.A., and ultimately chose not to pursue a writing career for a few reasons - what I perceived to be the largely subjective influence of “taste” and limited ability of most aesthetic production to interact productively with other disciplines, and a simpler longing to get back into more analytical subjects (I missed stats!).

… imagine having to sketch a sharply defined picture “corresponding” to a blurred one. In the latter there is a blurred red rectangle: for it you put down a sharply defined one. Of course—several such sharply defined rectangles can be drawn to correspond to the indefinite one.—But if the colours in the original merge without a hint of any outline won’t it become a hopeless task to draw a sharp picture corresponding to the blurred one? Won’t you then have to say: ‘Here I might just as well draw a circle or heart as a rectangle, for all the colours merge. Anything—and nothing—is right.’

– Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, pg 36