Convocation Spotlight: Yasamin Heshmat

June 10, 2020
About Yasamin

My PhD research is in the field of human computer interactions. I create, design, and study systems aimed at supporting the everyday activities of families, co-workers, and community members. These include domestic technologies such as tangible artifacts for connecting families in different time zones, telepresence robots, and new ways to use mobile devices to connect individuals together.

When I look at my time during my academic life, my time at SIAT was when I was the most content with myself, my research, and what I accomplished. So much of it was thanks to my great supervisor Dr. Carman Neustaedter for being an amazing mentor for me and the faculties here at SIAT who helped me. At the beginning of the program I was a little anxious just because it was a new field I stepped into and I challenged myself to pursue something that I truly felt mattered to me rather than something I just knew I could do.

Why did you choose SIAT?

I always had two main interests in my life, one was technology and engineering and the other was art and design. After completing a co-op during my masters and understanding how much I pay attention to UX research and design issues, I started to learn more about the Human Computer Interaction field. I was looking for a multidisciplinary department with strong research in field of HCI and that was when I learned about SIAT.

How did your studies in SIAT fit into your future goals?

My career goal is in Academia. I might take a couple of years of research in industry, but I think my aspiration is to be a professor. I love teaching and mentoring students and see a value in training future HCI researchers. I believe I can contribute more to the field of HCI by researching and training the next generation of researchers in the future.

What was the highlight of your graduate experience?

There were many highlights that I can share but finishing my last project called FamilyStories looked like an impossible one to complete and took so much planning, time and energy. I still remember how I was over the moon when I read the reviews I received for the paper submitted on. Also, later on the paper got an award from the CHI conference which felt like all the hard work and many sleepless nights was paid off and recognized by other researchers.

Any advice for prospective students considering pursuing a graduate degree in SIAT?

Make sure to choose your topic of research and your supervisor wisely. Make sure the excitement and passion are there for the research based on your own interests. Grad school is also a good time to know more about yourself and examining your capabilities and reaching a better understanding of what your skills are.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience in SIAT?

SIAT is a great place to explore and learn more from all the different disciplines that shape the school. We have variety of technologies, different equipment in the library to experiment with, great researchers and faculty members in SIAT each with very interesting perspectives. The grad study program is a unique opportunity for grad students to learn from and grow.