Technology and Social Behavior (TSB) is a joint Ph.D. program in Computer Science and Communication that draws on Northwestern's strong support for interdisciplinary research, benefits from talented faculty who contribute to a tradition of collaboration, and attracts unique students who are eager for academic experiences that cross traditional departmental boundaries.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and receive rigorous training in human-computer interaction, drawing on computer science and social sciences methodologies. The combined degree benefits students by providing: training in a diverse set of quantitative and qualitative methods, experience designing and implementing new technologies, practice incorporating the results of empirical research into these technologies, and preparation for the widest range of academic and industrial jobs.

TSB Research Spotlight: "Empowering Female Agents of Change"

Emily Harburg, TSB Ph.D. student and co-founder of Brave Initiatives, has been working with a group of Northwestern students and alumni to build programs that increase female participation in large-scale design projects. Their programs introduces female high school students to design thinking, coding, and leadership training that are used on real-world projects. Participants then use these skills for projects in areas like health, education, and social infrasturcture.

Featured Lab: MU Collective

MU Collective The MU (Midwest Uncertainty) Collective, lead by Professor Jessica Hullman, explores how data visualization and other tools can best support uncertainty communication and cognition. Researchers in the MU Collective develop novel ways for people to use visualizations to convey complex data and uncertainty information in ways that people can understand, such as new visualization techniques, interaction paradigms, authoring systems, and models of cognition.

See more about Prof. Hullman's MU Collective

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.

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; studying and designing new technologies for health; and designing natural user interfaces for collaboration, learning, and accessibility.

News and Announcements

NU at CSCW: TSB faculty and students represented Northwestern with 14 papers and over 21 presentations at CSCW 2019, 2 of which won Best Paper Award and Honorable Mention Award.

NU at CHI: Northwestern faculty and students are authors on 14 papers and over 25 presentations at the CHI 2019 conference, 3 of which won Best Paper, Honorable Mention Awards.

We are accepting applications for admission to the TSB program for Fall 2020. Please see the Admissions page for more information.

Welcome new students: We are delighted to welcome Evey Huang, Harrison Kwik, Priyanka Nanayakkara, Gustavo Umbelino as our newest TSB students!

Congratulations to recent TSB doctoral graduates Miriam Boon, who is a postdoctoral research fellow at Universiteit van Amsterdam; Sneha Narayan, who is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Carleton College; and Marlon Twyman, who is an Assistant Professor of Communication at USC Annenberg.

TSB Speaker Series

Ece Kamar

Our next speaker is Dr. Ece Kamar who is a principle researcher of the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at Microsoft Research.

Thanks to the wonderful speakers from the 2019-2020 series thus far: Paul Dourish (UC Irvine), Lilly Irani (UC San Diego), Matthew Kay (Univ. of Michigan), Niloufar Salehi (UC Berkeley), Munmun De Choudhury (Georgia Tech), Haiyi Zhu (Univ. of Minnesota), Tarleton Gillespie (Cornell), Sean Munson (Univ. of Washington) and Nithya Sambasivan (Google).

The TSB Distinguished Colloquium take place on select Thursdays @ 4pm. Check out our list of previous and upcoming speakers for the talk series.

Awards and Publications

Anne Marie Piper Darren Gergle Bryan Pardo

Congratulations to Prof. Anne Marie Piper, Prof. Darren Gergle, and Prof. Bryan Pardo on receiving an NSF award for their work on "Next Generation Content Production Tools for People with Vision Impairments".

Aaron Shaw

Congratulations to Prof. Aaron Shaw on receiving an NSF award for his work on "Collaborative Research: Modeling the Ecological Dynamics of Online organizations".

Jessica Hullman

Congratulations to Prof. Jessica Hullman for being named a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellow for her work developing computational tools that improve how people reason with and make decisions from data.


TSB Student Spotlight

Congratulations to TSB student: Mark Diaz for participating in the CSCW '19 Doctoral Colloquium.

Congratulations to TSB students: Eureka Foong on receiving a research grant from Adobe Research, and Priyanka Nanayakkara on receiving a Data Science Fellowship from Northwestern NICO.

Congratulations to TSB student: Eureka Foong who spoke at the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore in October 2019.

Congratulations to TSB student Maitraye Das on receiving a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award at CSCW '19 and a Best Paper Award at COMPSAC '18