HCD / HCI / InfoVis / CSCW

I use human centered design and experimental methods to study and design human experiences with the increasingly data infused products and socio-technical systems that support our everyday life.





I seek to understand technology mediated human percpetion, decision-making, and behavior in order to design, build, and evaluate user experiences, human-centered products, and socio-technical systems that deliver positive social and sustainable impact.

#medium is a message 
User Centered Design (UCD)
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
Information Visualization (InfoVis)
Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)
Information Systems (IS)
Speculative Design / Design Fiction (DesFi)

#user behavior #usability #experience
#perception #cognition #decision-making
#collective action #cooperation #teamwork
#social science #social psychology #communication #innovation #digital nudging #ethics

#sustainability #energy
#automotive #product lifecycle management
#politics #civics #government #public sphere
#children #autism #accessibility #wearables
#situation awarenes #cyber security
#education #health #well-being

#fake news #misinformation #trust
#ethical AI #bias transparency #AI usability
#useable privacy #useable security

I am an Independent Interdisciplinary PhD candidate in the departments of Design, Computer Graphics Technology and Technology Innovation Leadership at Purdue University. In my dissertation, I use experimental human computation and qualitative methods to explore how graph design affects people’s social interpretations and cooperative behaviors. I am co-advised by Dr. Cheryl Zhenyu Qian, Dr. Victor Yingjie Chen and Dr. Sabine Brunswicker, from the three departments, respectively. I’m honoured to have Dr. Leigh Raymond (Political Science) and Dr. David Ebert (Electrical and Computer Engineering) as my PhD committee members. In 2016, I received a Dean’s Graduate Research Award of Excellence from Purdue Polytechnic, and in 2018 I was awarded the Bilsland Dissertation Award. My research is supported by the NSF, Purdue Discovery Park, and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research. 

I received a
MSc in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where I trained in social scientific research methods and applied visual analyses to study how cause-advertising mediates as public moral education. At LSE, I was advised by Professor Lilie Chouliaraki, a leading scholar in humanitarian communications.

I am fortunate to have worked at a number of great research firms (e.g.
Human Digital) and labs including NASA’s Visualization Studio in Greenbelt, MD, Whirlpool’s Global Design in Benton Harbor, MI, and Indiana Government’s Management Data Hub in Indianapolis, IN. Currently, I am a senior user experience research consultant at Purdue User Experinece Group for a Fortune 500 automotive company.

My work has been published in numerous scientific peer-reviewed publications in IEEE, ACM, AIS and AAAI venues. Please see my publications on 
Google Scholar and ResearchGate.

My CV will be available here soon.


A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, but a great teacher inspires - William Arthur Ward

Teachers can profoundly influence the aspirations and future directions of generations. Since, students do their most engaged work when they tackle meaningful problems in challenging real life contexts, it is with active learning-through-doing courses complemented with interdisciplinary cooperative efforts that I can best support the excellence and growth of my students.

My teaching statement will be available here soon.

I am puzzled by the profound awareness gap between our everyday actions and their effects on our health, others, and environment. To address this, I approach design as a mediating discourse between people and the increasingly data infused materiality and hypothesise about material morality to encourage positive social and ecological behaviors.

As data-driven feedback and interactions are changing the way we make decisions, I strive to understand how data visualizations, and their embeddedness in everyday life, can help address fundamental societal needs.

Scholars have focused on the role data visualizations play for individuals (e.g., insights and self-awareness). Little attention has been paid to how socially interconnected data may help resolve fundamental problems of collaboration and cooperation needed to preserve the environment, reduce energy consumption, realize successful teams, or enhance our democracies through political participation.

To this end, I design, build, and evaluate user interactions with data infused digital products that address issues of environmental sustainability, accessibility, social cohesion, and personal wellness. My work covers the entire spectrum of user experiences: from utility and usability to desires, feelings and the mediating socio-cultural impact. I have examined these varying levels in a number of award-winning designs, including information visualizations (IEEE VAST 2013), assistive technologies (NordiCHI 2014) and consumer products (Whirlpool and GE).
My research statement will be available here soon.

︎   Elon Musk —
“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”




HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN (HCD): Delight and Empower Users

#ethics #transparency #empowerment #cooperation #user studies #autism #children #wearables #health #education

I marry my design thinking and social scientific research skills in my human centered design research approach, where scientific inquiry helps me identify user needs, desires and wants at an in-depth level, informing novel solutions that meets user expectations they did not know they had.

This research stream engages me in user research, design thinking, speculation and evaluation, all in an effort to design a more equitable, enjoyable and delightful world. My work in this area spans from the traditional consumer (e.g. GE, Whirlpool) and enterprise UX (e.g. Fortune 500 Automotive company) to the less prevalent social inclusion (e.g. NordiCHI 2014), welfare (e.g. Black Flame) and accessibility (e.g. VOSS Memorial UX) topics, but is driven to empower users to make the most of their lives. More human centered design research is needed in areas of marginalized communities such as children with autism, people with disability, and those who make the ultimate sacrifice and service in the US armed forces, who all struggle with participation in public life. 
Leather Neckband for Children with Autism, Winner of NordiCHI’14 Student Design Competition - Weekly contextual inquiries (lasted for 6 months), surveys and interviews with parents, teachers, caregivers and importantly with people with autism informed the design on a leather neckband that would empower a child with autism to rely less on their parents and caregivers and grant them the tools with which to better self-manage their relationship with their environment.
Black Flame Induction Cooktop, Whirlpool Bravo! Employee Award - Inspired by first hand campfire experience, Black Flame breaks down the host-guest relationships and brings the “kitchen” to the dinner table.
TreeBreeze, Top 4 Finalist, GE-Purdue Student Design Competition - a cross cultural diary across US, UK, and Estonia investigated laundry related practices, norms, and emotions to innovate in this conventional consumer ‘white goods’ space. VOSS Memorial, Permanent Installation at Purdue Discovery ParkUsing stakeholder and user research (e.g. surveys, personas, user flow mapping, etc.) to inform the design information panels that guide memorial guests through the “solar system” art installation. 


HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION (HCI): Technological Transparency and Cooperation

#design #mediation #user behavior #innovation #social politics #design thinking #transparency #cooperation #community

Cognizant of the fact that the material world, whether digitally enhanced or not, is designed by us and it guides users’ decisions, behaviors, and interactions with others. Therefore, questions about technological comprehension, access, and useablity are curcial to how humans interact with computers. My primary research in HCI is to understand how technology is perceived, understood and how it guides individual user behaviors. I investigate the human side of technology use to inform how technology could help people better understand novel technologies (e.g. AI, ML, etc.), and how it can support human communication and cooperation, weather in organic communities or more structured teams.

Knowledge Management UI, 3-year Enterprise UX Consulting project - a two-year user research (surveys, interviews, contextual inquiries) informed the design of new knowledge management features (iterative and agile user centered development process) for a novel light product lifecycle management interface that threads varying databases in one enterprise solution.
Smart & Connected Communities, NSF funded project -
I lead the theory- and lab studies driven design of a novel home energy monitor to be installed in 200 homes in 4 housing communities in IN for a 3-year field study on energy usage behaviors.


INFORMATION VISUALIZATION (INFOVIS): From Situation Awareness to Behavioral Nudging 

#infovis #visual design #social psychology #perception #theory-driven-design #crowdsourcing #controlled experiments #situation awareness #decision-making #teamwork #cyber security #community cooperation #sustainability

The broader data, information and knowledge visualization community can benefit from a designer eye and social scientific insights that helps address the myriad usability and user experience issues still present in the complex expert solutions that are proposed in the field.

SpringRain - using color coding to triage for effective team response.

SolarWheels - using users’ distance to the screen to auto-adjust between different levels of data detail.
With the increasing prevalence of data based feedback, especially social comparisons, I theoretically derive and empirically investigate which chart and visualization features can increase social transparency, enhance teamwork and encourage cooperation in communities. These are curcial questions if we are to address the many societal challenges that we face as a society, such as sustainability, energy conservation, community participation, social inclusion, etc. 

EnergyVis (PhD dissertation project)

︎   Jeffrey Zeldman  —
Content precedes design.
Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.



Please see full list on Google Scholar and projects on ResearchGate.


6. Promann, M., and S. Brunswicker (forthcoming)
“A Framework for Eco-Feedback Design For Home Energy Interactions”
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction – 1st revision

5. Zhang, T., Stonebraker, I., Promann, M., (2016)
“Understanding Library Users’ Preferences and Expectations of Online Help”

References Services Review, 44(3), 362-374.

4. Zhang, T., Niu, X., Promann, M., (2017)
“Assessing the User Experience of E-Books in Academic Libraries”

College and Research Libraries, 78(5), 578-601.

3. Promann, M., Wei, S., Qian, Z.C., and Chen, Y.V., (2015)
“The Role of Aesthetics and Perception in Raising Situation Awareness: Lessons from SpringRain”

International Journal of Human Computer Interaction, 32(4), 308-324. 


2. Promann, M., & Zhang, T., (2015)
“Applying Hierarchical Task Analysis Method to Discovery Layer Evaluation”

Information Technology and Libraries, 34(1), 77-105.

1. Zhang, T., Barnes, I.R., & Promann, M., (2014)
“Building Better Help: User Characteristics' Effect on Library Help Design”

Communication Design Quarterly, 2(2), 21-28.



12. Promann, M., Qian, Z.C., and Chen, Y.V., (work-in-progress)
“Designing for Children with Autism or their Caregivers? Finding Commonalities Among Stakeholders Through User Research”

ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing.

11. Promann, and Brunswicker, S., (2018)
“The Effect of Proximity in Social Data Charts on Perceived Unity”

IEEE Vis Conference on Visual Analytics Sciences and Technology (VAST), Berlin, Germany, October 21-26.
[paper] [video
10. Saenz, M.,Promann, M., Creager, A., and Rasche, N., (2018)
“Below the Interface: Evaluation of PLM Software Usability and User Self-Efficacy”

International Conference of Design, User Experience, and Usability (DUXU), Las Vegas, NV, July 18-20.

9. Promann, M., and Brunswicker, S. (2017)
“Affordances of Eco-Feedback Design in Home Energy Context”

AIS Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS)
Boston, MA, August 10-12.


8. Promann, M., (2017)
“Fire in the Kitchen: The Campfire Empathy that Led to Innovation in Human Product Interaction”

International Conference of Design, User Experience, and Usability (DUXU), Vancouver, Canada, July 9-14.
7. Promann, M., Qian, Z.C., and Chen, Y.V., (2016)
“Pitfalls and Potentials of Home Energy Monitoring System Design: a User Experience Perspective”

International Conference of Design, User Experience, and Usability (DUXU), Toronto, Canada, 494-506.

6. Zhan, T., Niu, X. and Promann, M. (2016)
”Assessing the User Experience of E-Books in Academic Libraries: Search, Usage, and Information Finding”
Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L)
Austin, TX, April 3-6.



5. Promann, M. (2018) 
“Examining the Role Visual Graph Structures Play in Collective Awareness and Cooperative Decisions”
ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Montreal, Canada, April 21-26.
[paper] [video] - FINALIST (top 6)

4. Promann, M., Lei, W., and Phillips, C. (2014)
“Using Digitized Leather to Empower Children with Autism”
ACM Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI), Helsinki, Finland, October 26-30.
[paper] [video] - WINNER (1st place)

3. Promann, M., Ma, Y., Wei, S., Lei, W., Chang, J.S., Qian, Z.C., and Chen, Y.V. (2013)
“SpringRain: an Ambient Information Display”

IEEE Vis Conference on Visual Analytics Sciences and Technology (VAST), Atlanta, GA, November 9-14.
[project] [demo] [video- WINNER (1st place)

2. Chang, J.S., Lei, W., Wei, S., Promann, M., Ma, Y., Chen, Y.V., and Qian, Z.C., (2013)
“SolarWheels: an Interactive Situation Awareness Visual Display for Large-scale Computer Networks”
IEEE Vis Conference on Visual Analytics Sciences and Technology (VAST), Atlanta, GA, November 9-14
[project] [demo] [video] - WINNER (2nd place)

1. Wang, W., Promann, M., Ma, Y., Yang, B., and Chen, Y.V., (2013)
“A Real-Time Network Hosts Visualization System”
IEEE Vis Conference on Visual Analytics Sciences and Technology (VAST), Atlanta, GA, November 9-14.[paper] NOTABLE MENTION

︎   Joshua Brewer —
Socrates said, “Know thyself.”
I say, “Know thy users.” And guess what?
They don’t think like you do.


Marlen Promann

Independent Interdisciplinary PhD candidate in Design, Technology and Innovation Leadership at Purdue University.
Sr. UX Research Assistant at Purdue HCDD Group.

Volunteer Research Assistant at Smart & Connected Communities NSF Grant (1737591) at Purdue Discovery Park.


Tech Office:

Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI) Seng-Liang Wang Hall 516 Northwestern Ave
West Lafayette, IN-47906, USA
4th floor
Purdue University

Design Office:

Department of Art & Design
Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts
552 West Wood Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
3rd floor
Purdue University

© Marlen Promann 2019