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  • PhD Defense - Sarah Cooney

    Wed, May 04, 2022 @ 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM

    Computer Science

    University Calendar

    PhD Candidate: Sarah Cooney

    Title: Toward Sustainable and Resilient Communities with HCI: Physical Structures and Socio-Cultural Factors


    Barath Raghavan (Chair), Ramesh Govindan, Bistra Dilkina, Heather Culbertson, Hajar Yazdiha (Outside Member, Sociology)

    Abstract: Today more than ever we are faced with urgent, global-scale sustainability challenges. Scientists are urging everyone to contribute, and this includes the computing community. The Sustainable Human-Computer Interaction (SHCI) community has been working on these kinds of sustainability problems for almost two decades now. My research builds on the work of this community, in particular the use of Practice Theory to examine the external structures that act on individuals, often hampering their ability to make sustainable decisions. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods from human-computer interaction, my research aim is to find local solutions to global sustainability challenges while increasing community resilience and individual well-being.

    First, I look at physical infrastructure through the lens of ``social infrastructure''. I build a prototype software, PatternPainter, to enable ordinary individuals to create 3D visualizations for designs of new social spaces on abandoned land in their communities. Evaluation shows this prototype allows individuals without design training to successfully create designs in 3D. I then turn to qualitative methods from HCI, specifically photo elicitation and surveys, to add context by examining how trained designers and untrained citizens view their physical environments differently in the CommYOUnity Data Study. The observations from this study can be used to inform building future technologies in the social infrastructure space. Finally, I turn to automation. I create a pipeline using the Pix2Pix style transfer algorithm and semantic segmentation to automate the process of revitalizing city streets for pedestrian use.

    In parallel, I also examine religion as a socio-cultural factor impacting sustainable decision making. This builds on previous work in SHCI, which suggests that it is important to understand the social, cultural, and psychological motivations behind sustainable decision making, so that more effective technological solutions to facilitate these decisions can be built. To that end, I conducted an interview study with 14 individuals from Catholic organizations who are involved in sustainability work from a faith-based lens. I show how the insights from this study might be used to build future technology in this space.

    WebCast Link: https://usc.zoom.us/j/97131163793?pwd=MXZ0NUNyd1BWK2F4U0lmUWJtNEVLdz09

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Lizsl De Leon


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