SAMANTHA FINKELSTEIN

UX researcher & designer  | learning scientist | acrobat
PhD, Carnegie Mellon University HCII

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Hi, I'm Samantha

I earned my PhD from Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction program in 2017, and am currently looking for UX research positions. Let's talk!

I practice value-sensitive design.  I've focused the majority of my work on supporting the needs of marginalized communities, especially youth. I've spent a lot of time in classrooms.  I've worked on projects that involved web interfaces, conversational agents, mobile platforms, and immersive and augmented virtual reality systems (before they were cool).

My work is always influenced by an understanding that people are people, not 'learners' or 'users.' In the end, the goals of people are almost always to feel like themselves, without anxiety, with some feeling of connection.  I believe that the first step of designing systems is understanding people.

 
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My approach to UX is qualitative, flexible, and interdisciplinary

My methods toolkit pulls from qualitative HCI / UX research and design, the learning sciences, sociolinguistics, and behavioral science. I love working on projects centered around understanding people - who they are and what they need. I love flexibly adapting methods to answer nuanced questions.

For example, I was once designing a training tool that could help reduce prejudice among teachers. Because we didn't think a traditional interview would be very effective, we had to gain our insights from a different angle. We asked teachers to design a video game character for African American students. This allowed us to have tricky conversations with educators about their beliefs and biases in a safer environment.