Alexandra To, PhD

Alexandra is an Assistant Professor jointly appointed in the College of Arts, Media & Design in the Art + Design (Games) department and the Khoury College of Computer Science at Northeastern University. In her work she uses human-computer interaction research methods, storytelling, and design to illuminate patterns of racial oppression in technology.

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Alexandra is an HCI researcher, game designer, and racial justice activist.

She received her Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University where she was advised by Dr. Jessica Hammer and Dr. Geoff Kaufman. Previously she received both an M.S. and B.S. in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in HCI and a minor in Asian American Studies at Stanford University, advised by Dr. Michael Bernstein.

Research Overview

In my work I use qualitative methods to explore and study experiences of marginalization. I then utilize design methods to empower people in marginalized positions.

I have additional experience with UX research, educational games research, and expert crowdsourcing research.

Download Research Statement (2020)

PhD Thesis

"Empowering Uncertainty Resolution for Marginalized Populations through Social Technologies"

My thesis focuses on how marginalization can harmfully amplify the negative impact of uncertainty. I focused on two contexts of marginalization: 1) STEM learning environments for female and/or students of color and 2) social coping with interpersonal racism for adults.

Download PhD Thesis

Selected Research Projects

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Coping After Racist Experiences (CARE)

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Critical Race Theory for HCI

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Sensing Curiosity in Play and Responding (SCIPR)

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Tandem Transformational Game Design

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Character Diversity for Digital and Non-Digital Games

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Flash Teams & Orgs


Get in touch with me to chat about research collaboration, speaking engagements, or to learn more about my work!

Prospective Students

I'm happy to speak with PhD students looking for an advisor or co-advisor in CAMD (e.g., Interdisciplinary Design and Media PhD) or Khoury (e.g., Computer Science PhD). In an email to me, please include your interests, program, CV, and why you think we might be a good fit.

Undergraduate and Masters students who have already been admitted to Northeastern and are interested in studying human-computer interaction and critical race theory or who are interested in designing or developing games or social technologies are welcome to contact me. Include your interests, degree or major, and resume or CV.

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