I am currently seeking academic appointments in the areas of racial/social justice, games and play, and/or human-computer interaction. Get in touch with me if you spot any connections!

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I am a PhD Candidate in the Human Computer Interaction Institiute (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon University, advised by Jessica Hammer and Geoff Kaufman.

My work focuses on experiences of uncertainty. Specifically, I am focused on how targets of interpersonal racism cope with trauma and uncertainty through social support. Related to this work, I have interests in empowering marginalized groups and examining systemic inequality and bias.

I also design and research non-digital games for middle school students to encourage STEM comfort and engagement through increased curiosity.

During my undergraduate and Masters programs, my research with the Stanford HCI Group examined how to facilitate work within groups of experts from the crowd.

  • aato {at} cs.cmu.edu
  • Download CV [pdf]


My current research focuses on race and computing.

Specifically I am studying how people who experience racism seek social support using social technologies. I am also working on applications of Critical Race Theory for HCI.


Critical Race Theory for HCI

Exploring how to apply main tenets of Critical Race Theory to Human-Computer Interaction research and practice.

Coping After Racist Experiences (CARE)

This project focuses on how people respond to and recover from instances of racism in personal interactions. We examine specifically how those targets leverage their social networks both online and offline to communicate about their experiences.

Tandem Transformational Game Design

Tandem Design is a transformational game design process that pulls from best practice in transformational games, design, psychology, and organizational behavior. Go to tinyurl.com/tandemdesign for more information.


Sensing Curiosity in Play and Responding (SCIPR)

Designing and researching game-based interventions for marginalized STEM students to increase scientific curiosity in order to increase comfort with STEM topics.

Character Diversity in Games

This project examines current techniques both digital and non-digital games employ in order to represent diverse players through game characters.

Flash Orgs

Flash orgs are rapidly assembled, reconfigurable organizations of online expert crowd workers working on highly complex, open-ended goals. (Published at CHI 2017)


WearWrite is a system that enables users to write documents from their smartwatches by leveraging a crowd to help translate their ideas into text. (Published at CHI 2016)

Flash Teams

Flash teams are modular, self-contained, replicable, and computational workflows for expert crowdsourcing. (Published at UIST 2014)


Please see my CV for a complete and updated list of my publications.


Critical Race Theory for HCI

[To, A., Ogbonnaya-Ogburu, I.F., Smith, A.] Toyama, K.
CHI '20 [early release draft]

Character Diversity in Digital and Non-Digital Games

To, A., McDonald, J., Holmes, J., Hammer, J., Kaufman, G.
ToDiGRA Diversity Special Issue

Tandem Transformational Game Design: A Game Design Process Case Study

To, A., Fath, E. Zhang, E., Ali, S., Kildunne, C., Fan, A., Hammer, J., Kaufman, G.
Meaningful Play 2016

Integrating Curiosity and Uncertainty in Game Design

To, A., Ali, S., Kaufman, G., Hammer, J.
DiGRA/FDG 2016: Digital Games Research Association and Foundations of Digital Games First Join International Conference

Expert Crowdsourcing with Flash Teams

Retelny, D., Robaszkiewicz, S., To, A., Lasecki, W., Patel, J., Rahmati, N., Doshi, T., Valentine, M., Bernstein, M.
UIST 2014: ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology


Empowering Uncertainty Resolution for Marginalized Populations [Proposed 6/25/2019]

Advisors: Jessica Hammer, Geoff Kaufman
Committee: Jason Hong, Kevin Jarbo, Kody Manke
HCI PhD Thesis Proposal

Experts On Demand: Enabling Flash Organizations with Rapid Onboarding

Advisor: Michael Bernstein, Second Reader: Melissa Valentine
Symbolic Systems Program Masters Thesis 2015

Foundry: Managing Teams of Experts Online

Advisor: Michael Bernstein, Second Reader: Daniela Retelny
Symbolic Systems Program Senior Honors Thesis 2014



05-410/05-610 (User-Centered Research and Evaluation)

CMU - Spring 2019

User research methods course for HCI students. Lead weekly lab of 16 students covering basics of prototyping, qualitative and quantitative research.

05-430/05-630 (Programming Usable Interfaces)

CMU - Fall 2017

Programming class for HCI students. Lead weekly lab of 30 students covering basics of prototyping, designing, and programming for the web.

85-357 (Navigating Race and Identity in America)

CMU - Spring 2017

Advanced psychology seminar on race and identity in America.

SymSys 100 (Minds & Machines)

Stanford - Fall 2014

Overview course of the interdisciplinary study of cognition, information, communication, and language. Leading a discussion section of 30 students.


Facebook - User Experience Research Intern

Summer 2018

Working on the Emerging Verticals team performing qualitative research (e.g., diary study, interviews) with small business owners and consumers.

Schell Games - Design Intern

Summer 2017

Working on an interdisciplinary team with eleven game designers, artists, and developers working on transformational game design for a digital app. Gathered and synthesized research related to the project’s transformational goals, contributed to design brainstorms and iteration, and wrote narrative content.

Stanford Bing Overseas Study Program - Head Student Advisor

Sept. 2013 - June 2015

(Previously) Beijing Student Advisor Sept. 2012-June 2013
Organizing BOSP team of student advisors. Organizing efforts around large outreach events and panels.

Stanford Residential Computing - Residential Computer Consultant

Sept. 2013 - June 2015

Assistant residents with internet, hardware, and other personal computing and technology issues.


Game Design Blog

An ongoing game design blog created for Jesse Schell's ETC Game Design course
Click here to read.

10 Second Game

A game I made in Twine for fun for LURP (learn usable repeatable prototyping) at Schell Games.
Click here to play.

School Source

A fully functional app prototype designed for teachers and students to manage school information (e.g., grades, attendance, assignments, etc.). Made with a team during Intro to HCI Design (CS 147) at Stanford University.


Get in touch with me to learn more about my research.

Undergraduate and Masters students looking to get involved in this work (e.g., research, development, game design, data analysis, etc.) can get in touch with me via email in order to do an independent study in either of my advisor's labs, the OH! Lab (Dr. Jessica Hammer) or the eheart Lab (Dr. Geoff Kaufman).

Newell-Simon Hall
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA

CV: Download