This week's Information Science Colloquium speaker is Lana Yarosh from AT&T Research Labs.

Title: Designing to Support Strong-Tie Relationships

Summary: What do the relationships between childhood best friends, parents and children, and A.A. home group members have in common? These are all examples of “strong-ties" — types of connections that are key to reducing loneliness, providing a support network, and growing together as individuals. My research focuses on using technology to support such strong-tie relationships, and I present three examples from my personal work. First, after endeavoring to understand the needs of parents and children who live apart, I designed and built the ShareTable to address some of the challenges they face. Second, I investigated technological support for remote play between a child and a remote partner, such as a best friend who has moved away. Third, I examined the opportunities and challenges in using technology to support strong-tie relationships among those recovering from addiction and alcoholism. For all of these contexts, I’ll discuss how I combine ethnographically-inspired formative work, a design-based approach, and empirical investigations of functional prototypes to understand and create novel technology.

Bio: Svetlana “Lana” Yarosh is an HCI researcher at AT&T Research Labs in New Jersey. She was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to America with her family in 1995. She received two Bachelors of Science from University of Maryland (in Computer Science and Psychology) and recently graduated from the Human-Centered Computing Ph.D. program at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research falls primarily in the area of Human-Computer Interaction, with a focus on Ubiquitous and Social Computing and a special interest in Child-Computer Interaction. Lana has a passion for empirically investigating real-world needs that may be addressed through computing applications, designing and developing technological interventions, and evaluating them using a balance of qualitative and quantitative methods. Most recently, her work has focused on supporting strong-tie relationships between family members and in community groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Her work has been featured on CNN and Fast Company, has won multiple innovation competitions, and has been recognized with a Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award. Lana is honored to have been the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships including the AT&T Research Labs Graduate Fellowship, the IBM Graduate Fellowship, and the Nokia University Funding Award.