Today’s world faces several complex problems, such as climate change, transportation, and infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Technology, if designed right, can play an essential role in informing people, raising awareness, sharing data, and connecting communities and decision-makers to take data-informed actions. In this talk, I present examples of my recent work on building and studying community-centered tools to empower the general public to engage in real-world sociotechnical problems such as urban planning and climate change and bring their ideas and comments for shaping future policies. I then describe a vision for expanding my research to further advance democracy, equity, well-being, and sustainability by fostering the inclusion and empowerment of marginalized populations. I close with a discussion of how my work can be applied to other sociotechnical problems, such as health informatics and learning sciences.
Narges Mahyar is an Assistant Professor in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Narges’s research falls at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Information Visualization, Social Computing, and Design. She designs, develops, and evaluates novel social computing and visualization techniques that help people explore, understand, and make data-informed decisions. In addition, over the past nine years, she has focused on an emerging interdisciplinary area of “Digital Civics,” which explores new strategies for scaling and diversifying public engagement in massive decision-making processes related to civic issues. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, an MS in Information Technology from the University of Malaya, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tehran Azad University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British
Columbia from 2014 to 2016 and in the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego from 2016 to 2018. Her recognition in the field has been repeatedly confirmed through many accolades for her research, including four Best Paper Awards from Eurovis 2022, CSCW 2020, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2017, and VAST 2014; and two Best Paper Honorable Mention Awards from DIS 2021 and ISS 2016.