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CHCI Alumni Highlight- Stacy Branham

CHCI Alumni Highlight- Stacey Branham

Stacy Branham is a third year Assistant Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where she designs and builds computer technologies to improve the social integration of people with disabilities. Recently, she partnered with Toyota and the Dayle McIntosh Center to provide technologies for remote sighted assistance to hundreds of people with vision impairments in Southern California; this ongoing project seeks to study technology’s impact on quality of life during and after the pandemic. As a woman in computing with an invisible disability, she aligns her teaching and service to increase diversity at all levels in the field. She was recently awarded a Teach Access grant to integrate accessibility into undergraduate HCI curricula and was named the inaugural Adjunct Co-Chair for Accessibility for ACM SIGCHI.

Stacy earned a BS in 2007 and PhD 2014 from Virginia Tech’s Department of Computer Science, with a specialization in HCI. Among the most memorable aspects of her experience as a CHCI student were the camaraderie of students and engagement in slow science. She explained: “[students] organized reading and writing groups; we ran, swam, and cycled together; we shared a sense that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats.” Her lab mates became “family” and still meet regularly to vacation together. Regarding what she called “slow science,” she noted that her faculty mentors, Steve Harrison, Deborah Tatar, and Scott McCrickard, instilled “a dedication to careful questioning, meaning-making, and ethics, before and above the dissemination and commodification of ideas.” These formative experiences, she says, make her a better researcher and mentor to her own students today. She remarks “like Blacksburg’s motto, CHCI at Virginia Tech is ‘a special place.’”