Informatics Ph.D. student Xi Lu of UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) was awarded the ICS Steckler Family Endowed Fellowship for 2022-2023. The goal of this fellowship, which covers fees and tuition and includes a $10,000 quarterly stipend, is to support Ph.D. students who are committed to promoting the field of computing to women.
“I felt super excited the moment I received this fellowship! I thank the Steckler family for supporting my work and study,” says Lu, who is working to design technology for women. “I also appreciate the support from my advisor, Dr. Daniel Epstein.”
Lu’s research interests lie at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI) and personal informatics, as she studies and designs self-tracking technology that improves people’s health and wellness. She also examines technology beyond individual-level interactions, seeing how specific socio-cultural contexts influence people’s situated needs and uses of everyday technology.
“Much of my work to date has focused on rethinking and designing health monitoring technology for and with women, such as tracking technology for menopause, and food and diet monitoring technology for women,” she says, noting that many technologies designed for general populations either prioritize men’s needs or are based on men’s experiences. “My research surfaced how food and diet monitoring technology designed for general populations may impose a beauty norm that emphasizes body shape on females, subtly encouraging standards like a thin ideal and projecting judgment when those standards are not met.”
Lu is taking steps to encourage more women, especially Asian females, to consider the field of computing by involving female undergraduate and master’s students in her research around women’s complex health needs. “I wish to enhance women’s self-efficacy in conducting computing-related research and ultimately let women design technology for women,” she says. A main priority of her dissertation work is to design and build a technology ecosystem composed of social, tracking and learning technologies to help women manage complex health conditions.
“The Steckler Family Endowed Fellowship will give me the flexibility to enact my future research plans, centered around technology for women,” she says, “and it will allow me to have the influence to inspire more female scholars.”
— Shani Murray