The Northwestern University Robert E. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and School of Communication offer the combined Ph.D. program in Computer Science and Communication, known as the Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior.

The study of Technology and Social Behavior involves many disciplines, but until now it has been rare to find graduate training that prepares students to bridge several of those disciplines in the way that is so demanded by both academic and industry research jobs of today. The Northwestern TSB doctoral program recruits students from a variety of backgrounds and gives them rigorous training in Humanities, Social Sciences, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Science methodologies to allow them to understand and participate in technological developments in their broadest possible contexts.

TSB Research Spotlight: "Cobi"

Cobi Cobi, designed by Professor Haoqi Zhang and colleagues, engages an entire academic community in planning a large-scale conference. Program committee members group papers sharing a common theme. Authors mark which other papers they find relevant to their paper. Conference chairs use the web-based, visual scheduling interface that combines community input and constraint-solving intelligence. Conference attendees use the web app to decide where to spend their time during the conference.

see more about this project

Featured Lab: Inclusive Technology Lab

Inclusive Technology Lab Inclusive Technology Lab Professor Anne Marie Piper and her students are designing natural user interfaces to support communication and social interaction for people with disabilities. Her lab is creating new forms of hybrid social media and e-mail to help engage socially isolated older adults. Also in the Inclusive Technology Lab, students are investigating new uses of haptic touch screens to support the needs of children with disabilities.

See more about the Inclusive Technology Lab

TSB Research Examples

Life on Earth: Professor Michael Horn and collaborators created Life on Earth to teach the public about evolution and the history of life through interactive visualizations and collaborative games on multi-touch displays. See more here.

SocialEQ: Professor Bryan Pardo's research group has developed a new tool that learns the meaning of adjectives describing sound from people on the web. Try it out here.

Omnipedia: Professor Darren Gergle and graduate students Patti Bao and Brent Hecht are studying ways to provide users native language access to over 8 million concepts from up to 25 language editions of Wikipedia. Learn more.

We are also examining the digital divide from sociological, policy and engineering perspectives; exploring ways to use crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding to support creativity and innovation; developing new ways to mine cultural diversity and develop culturally-aware technologies; and designing natural user interfaces for collaboration and learning.

News and Announcements

NU at CHI: TSB faculty and students will be representing Northwestern with six papers at CHI 2014.

NU at CSCW: TSB faculty and students represented Northwestern with four papers at CSCW 2014.

Congratulations to recent TSB graduate Sheena Lewis, who joined the faculty in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University this fall.

Welcome new students: We are delighted to welcome the incoming class of TSB PhD students joining us this fall:
Robin Brewer (BS, Computer Science, Maryland; MS, Human-Centered Computing, UMBC), Sarah D'Angelo (BS, Cognitive Science, UCSD), Emily Harburg (BA, Social Anthropology, Harvard), and Marlon Twyman (BS & MS, Biomedical Engineering, Wright State).

Congratulations to recent TSB graduate Patti Bao, who completed her PhD this summer and has joined Google's Android team as a User Experience Researcher.

TSB Speaker Series

Jeffrey Bigham
Our next speaker will be
Jeffrey Bigham,
Carnegie Mellon University. He will be presenting his talk "Crowd Agents: Creating Intelligent Interactive Systems from the Top Down" on April 24th at 4pm in Frances Searle 2-107.

previous & upcoming speakers

Awards and Publications

Two publications by TSB faculty and graduate students have received Best Paper Honorable Mentions at the upcoming ACM CSCW 2014 conference:

"Understanding the Role of Community in Crowdfunding Work"
Julie S Hui, Michael D Greenberg, Elizabeth M Gerber

"Awkward Encounters of an "Other" Kind: Collective Self-Presentation and Face Threat on Facebook"
Eden Litt, Erin Spottswood, Jeremy Birnholtz, Jeff T Hancock, Madeline E. Smith, Lindsay Reynolds

TSB Student Spotlight

Emily HarburgColin Fitzpatrick

Congratulations to TSB doctoral students Emily Harburg and Colin Fitzpatrick! Emily received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Colin was selected as an NSF GK-12 fellow.