Alex Q. Chen

Alex Q. Chen: I am a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. My research interests include User-Centred Design, Human Factors and Human Behaviour on the Web, and Web Accessibility. The focus of my research aims to improve the user experience and the accessibility of digital information for elderly and physically challenged users.


The goal of the Stepgreen project is to leverage Internet scale technologies to create opportunities for reduced energy consumption. The original vision of the project was to leverage existing online social networks to encourage individual change. Since then the project has broadened to include a number of other ideas. We have explored the impact of demographics on energy use practices; studied the value of empathetic figures such as a polar bear for motivation and exploredorganizational-level planning. We have also developed mobile technologies that can provide feedback about green actions on the go. Website Website

Try out: The website provides a mechanism for allowing individuals to report on and track their environmental impact. It includes a visualization that can be displayed on an individual’s social networking web page. Go to Stepgreen.organd see for yourself how we leverage social networks to engage individuals in green behaviors.

Learn about our software productsStepgreen  is a service that we are hoping to share with non-profits that are encouraging behavior change,  such as an open API you can use to build your own clients for encouraging green behavior. Please contact us at if you are interested in collaborating with us. 

Learn about our research and our publications

Keep in touch with us through our Facebook page  and Twitter account.

Sample Publications


  1. J. Mankoff. “HCI and Sustainability: A Tale of Two Motivations,” Interactions.
  2. Dillahunt, T. & Mankoff, J. (2011) In the dark, out in the cold. ACM Crossroads 17(4):39-41
  3. Jennifer Mankoff, Robin Kravets, Eli Blevis, Some Computer Science Issues in Creating a Sustainable World, IEEE Computer 41(8):102-105. (pdf)
    1. Reprinted as: Jennifer Mankoff, Robin Kravets and Eli Blevis, Some Computer Science Issues in Creating a Sustainable World. Posted on November 17th, 2008 in Articles, Climate, OpEd, Technology


  1. Tawanna Dillahunt, Jennifer Mankoff, Eric Paulos. Understanding Conflict Between Landlords and Tenants: Implications for Energy Sensing and Feedback. Ubicomp ’10.  (full paper)(pdf)
  2. Jennifer Mankoff, Susan R. Fussell, Tawanna Dillahunt, Rachel Glaves, Catherine Grevet, Michael Johnson, Deanna Matthews, H. Scott Matthews, Robert McGuire, Robert Thompson. Increasing Energy Saving Behaviors via Social Networks. ICWSM’10.  (full paper) (pdfvideo of talk)
  3. C. Grevet, J. Mankoff, S. D. Anderson Design and Evaluation of a Social Visualization aimed at Encouraging Sustainable Behavior. In Proceedings of HICSS 2010.  (full paper) (pdf)
  4. T. Dillahunt, J. Mankoff, E. Paulos, S. Fussell It’s Not All About “Green”: Energy Use in Low-Income Communities. In Proceedings of Ubicomp 2009. (Full paper) (pdf)
  5. J. Froehlich, T. Dillahunt, P. Klasnja, J. Mankoff, S. Consolvo, B. Harrison, J. A. Landay, UbiGreen: Investigating a Mobile Tool for Tracking and Supporting Green Transportation Habits. In Proceedings of CHI 2009. (Full paper) (pdf)
  6. J. Schwartz, J. Mankoff, H. Scott Matthews. Reflections of everyday activity in spending data. In Proceedings of CHI 2009.  (Note). (pdf)
  7. Jennifer Mankoff, Deanna Matthews, Susan R. Fussell and Michael Johnson. Leveraging Social Networks to Motivate Individuals to Reduce their Ecological Footprints. HICSS 2007. (pdf)


  1. Rachael Nealer, Christopher Weber, H. Scott Matthews and Chris Hendrickson. Energy and Environmental Impacts of Consumer Purchases: A Case Study on Grocery Purchases. ISSST 2010
  2. Dillahunt, T., Becker, G., Mankoff, J. and Kraut, R. Motivating Environmentally Sustainable Behavior Changes with a Virtual Polar Bear.” Pervasive 2008 workshop on Pervasive Persuasive Technology and Environmental Sustainability. (pdf)
  3. Johnson, M., Fussell, S. Mankoff, J., Matthwes, D., and Setlock, L. “When Users Pledge to Take Green Actions, Are They Solving a Decision Problem?” INFORMS Fall 2008 Conference. (ppt)
  4. Johnson, M., Fussell, S. Mankoff, J. and Matthwes, D. “How Does Problem Representation Influence Decision Performance and Attitudes?” INFORMS Fall 2007 Conference. Abstract
  5.  Johnson, M.P. 2006. “Public Participation and Decision Support Systems: Theory, Requirements, and Applications.” For presentation at Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management Fall Conference, Madison, WI, November 3, 2006. (pdf)

Aarudra Moudgalya

Headshot of Aarudra MoudgalyaAarudra Moudgalya is a Graduate Mechanical Engineer from CMU who’s interested in designing and manufacturing for assistive technology. His creativity is focused towards making affordable prosthetics and exoskeletons using rapid prototyping techniques. Aarudra is currently working on designing modular upper limb prostheses at the Human Computer Interaction Institute. He enjoys DIY projects, making music and doodling.

Tawanna Dillahunt

Tawanna Dillahunt is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information (UMSI) and holds a courtesy appointment with the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department. Before starting as an Assistant Professor, she was a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in UMSI from January 2013 – July 2014. She also leads the Social Innovations Group at UMSI and her research interests are in the areas of human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and social computing. She is primarily interested in identifying needs and opportunities to further explore how theories from the social sciences can be used to design technologies that have a positive impact on group and individual behavior. With the narrowing of the digital divide, the ubiquity of smart devices and mobile hotspots in common places in the U.S. (e.g., libraries, community centers, and even McDonald’s) she sees an urgent need to explore the use of these technologies for those that stand the most to gain from these resources. Therefore, she designs, builds, enhances and deploys innovative technologies that solve real-world problems, particularly in underserved communities.

Tawanna holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, a M.S. in Computer Science from the Oregon Graduate Institute School of Science and Engineering (now a part of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR), and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. She was also a software engineer at Intel Corporation for several years

Disability Studies and Accessible Technology Creation

Jennifer Mankoff, Gillian R. HayesDevva Kasnitz:
Disability studies as a source of critical inquiry for the field of assistive technology. ASSETS 2010: 3-10

Disability studies and assistive technology are two related fields that have long shared common goals–understanding the experience of disability and identifying and addressing relevant issues. Despite these common goals, there are some important differences in what professionals in these fields consider problems, perhaps related to the lack of connection between the fields. To help bridge this gap, we review some of the key literature in disability studies. We present case studies of two research projects in assistive technology and discuss how the field of disability studies influenced that work, led us to identify new or different problems relevant to the field of assistive technology, and helped us to think in new ways about the research process and its impact on the experiences of individuals who live with disability. We also discuss how the field of disability studies has influenced our teaching and highlight some of the key publications and publication venues from which our community may want to draw more deeply in the future.

Exiting the cleanroom: On ecological validity and ubiquitous computing

Carter, Scott, Jennifer Mankoff, Scott R. Klemmer, and Tara Matthews. “Exiting the cleanroom: On ecological validity and ubiquitous computing.” Human–Computer Interaction 23, no. 1 (2008): 47-99.

Over the past decade and a half, corporations and academies have invested considerable time and money in the realization of ubiquitous computing. Yet design approaches that yield ecologically valid understandings of ubiquitous computing systems, which can help designers make design decisions based on how systems perform in the context of actual experience, remain rare. The central question underlying this article is, What barriers stand in the way of real-world, ecologically valid design for ubicomp?

Using a literature survey and interviews with 28 developers, we illustrate how issues of sensing and scale cause ubicomp systems to resist iteration, prototype creation, and ecologically valid evaluation. In particular, we found that developers have difficulty creating prototypes that are both robust enough for realistic use and able to handle ambiguity and error and that they struggle to gather useful data from evaluations because critical events occur infrequently, because the level of use necessary to evaluate the system is difficult to maintain, or because the evaluation itself interferes with use of the system. We outline pitfalls for developers to avoid as well as practical solutions, and we draw on our results to outline research challenges for the future. Crucially, we do not argue for particular processes, sets of metrics, or intended outcomes, but rather we focus on prototyping tools and evaluation methods that support realistic use in realistic settings that can be selected according to the needs and goals of a particular developer or researcher.