Lab Directors

Dr. Sheena Erete 

Sheena Erete is an assistant professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media School of Design at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She co-directs the Technology for Social Good | Research and Design Lab with Dr. Denise Nacu. Her research focuses on examining and designing socio-cultural appropriate technologies that support collaborative prosocial behavior in local communities to address various social issues such as crime, education, local governance, political efficacy, and economic development.

Dr. Erete received her Ph.D. from the Technology and Social Behavior program at Northwestern University, a joint degree in Computer Science and Communication. She received her Masters in Computer Science focusing on Human Computer Interaction from the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. Before attending Georgia Tech, Dr. Erete received two Bachelors of Science degrees from Spelman College in Computer Science and Mathematics. Prior to returning for her Ph.D., she was an User Experience Engineer at IBM.

Dr. Denise C. Nacu

Denise C. Nacu is a faculty member of the College of Computing and Digital Media School of Design at DePaul University. She received her Ph.D. in Education (Learning Technologies) from the University of Michigan in 2004. She also holds a B.S. in Art History (minor in Psychology) from Columbia University (1995), an M.S. in Education (Educational Technology) from the University of Michigan (2000).

She is an educational designer and researcher with almost two decades of experience developing technology tools to support teaching and learning. Before joining the faculty at DePaul, she was the Director of Design at UChicago Impact (University of Chicago), where she led efforts to create interactive technology tools for educational improvement.

Faculty and Research Affiliates

Dr. Nichole Pinkard

Nichole Pinkard has led efforts to implement 1:1 computing in urban schools, integrate digital media into core instruction, and create digital media learning opportunities outside of the formal school day.

Dr. Pinkard is a recipient of the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies and an NSF Early CAREER Fellowship. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, and on the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Games Research program.

Caitlin Martin

Cailtlin K. Martin is a Lead Researcher for Digital Youth Network. Since 2005 she has been studying DYN learning environments, looking at the impact and outcomes of participation in DYN opportunities for youth, adult educators, and local communities.

Caitlin is a co-writer of the recent book about the Digital Youth Network, published by MIT Press, and has presented her work at conferences including Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, and the International Conference on Computer Supported Education.

For over 15 years, Caitlin’s work has concentrated broadly on the design, implementation, and study of environments that encourage youths from diverse communities to develop technological fluency. In the past few years, her work has increasingly focused on online participation within the networked communities, including DYN’s iRemix site. Specific themes include how to collect and look at log data in terms of learning, how to understand blended environments that use online environments within face-to-face programs, and how to design for more generative learning interactions between youth and educators.

Dr. Jonathan Gemmell

Jonathan F. Gemmell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computing at DePaul University. He holds a BA in Classics, an MS in Computer Science and a PhD in Computer Science. His research focuses on the social web, data analysis and artificial intelligence. He is a faculty member at the Web Intelligence Laboratory. He has published dozens of articles in international peer-reviewed conferences and journals. His previous business experience includes trading foreign currency derivatives on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and managing a trading and investment group.

Dr. Daniela Raicu

Daniela Stan Raicu is a Professor of School of Computing, College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University, Chicago. She is the co-director of the Medical Informatics and the Intelligent Multimedia Processing Laboratories. Daniela is the founding Director of the Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Center at DePaul. Her research interests include medical imaging, multimedia retrieval, pattern recognition and data mining. Daniela’s projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Argonne National Laboratory, Department of Education, and McArthur Foundation. She is the recipient of the DePaul Excellence in Teaching Award 2008, the DePaul Spirit of Inquiry Award in 2010, and the IBM Faculty Innovation Award in 2010. She also serves on the National Council of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) honor society in Computer and Information Sciences since 2008. Daniela holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Oakland University, Michigan, a M.A. in Computer Science from Wayne State University, Michigan, and a B.S. in Mathematics from University of Bucharest, Romania.

Jim Sandherr

Jim Sandherr is a Research Associate at the Digital Youth Network. Jim is currently working on developing methods for integrating digital technology, social networks, and badges into educational spaces to create blended learning environments. Jim supports both teachers and students in the implementation of media literacy programming by collaboratively authoring curriculum that suits the learning goals of modern educators.

Elaina Boytor

Elaina Boytor is currently earning a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in both English and Sociology from Loyola University Chicago. Her interest lies in ways that technology is used and could be used as social and interactive mediums, particularly to enhance education as well as accessibility. Her goal is to conduct social science research that aligns with her intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm for technology integration, and pursuit to discover and share knowledge. 

Graduate Students

Dominic Amato – Lab Manager

Dominic Amato is originally from Milwaukee, he is pursuing his masters in Human Computer Interaction. As an undergrad he studied Art and Technology at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He thinks technology has the power to change peoples lives and he wants to contribute to peoples well being through it. He currently is researching ways to broaden participation in computational thinking activities and computer science education.

Jennifer Baltes

Jennifer Baltes is a Predictive Analytics Graduate Student at DePaul University.

Jessa Dickinson

Jessa Dickinson is a PhD candidate in the human-centered design program at DePaul University. She holds an MS in human-computer interaction. She has worked in the UX field since 2015 and has filled the roles of researcher, information architect, and interaction designer. At  Digital Youth Network she conducts qualitative research on the factors that affect the accessibility of informal STEM programs for youth (particularly girls) in low-income communities. Her PhD research explores if and how low-income communities are engaged in governance of technology and data in their neighborhoods and what role technology and data can play in developing equitable and environmentally sustainable urban communities.

Taha Hamid

Taha Hamid is a Predictive Analytics Graduate Student at DePaul University.

Taihua Li

Taihua Li is a Predictive Analytics Graduate Student at DePaul University. He is a data scientist with strong quantitative and qualitative research background. He is interested and passionate in applying data mining techniques and data science to solve business challenges.

Undergraduate Students

Aneta Baran

Aneta Baran is a senior undergraduate student at DePaul University working towards a degree in Interactive and Social Media (with a concentration in design) and a minor in Graphic Design. She enjoys studying technology as it relates to learning and education, and hopes to learn more about the relationship between the two.

Evelyn Flores

Evelyn Flores is a senior undergraduate student at DePaul University majoring in Interactive and Social Media with a concentration in development. She is also working toward a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction.

Nina Keoborakot

Nina Keoborakot is a sophomore at DePaul University majoring in Interactive and Social Media with minors in Art History and Graphic Design. In addition to her work with TSG, she serves as Treasurer for DePaul Model United Nations, co-founder and Graphic Designer for the Model UN Chicago conference Crosstown Classic, and a volunteer graphic designer for the Laotian American Organization of Elgin.

Maddie Shiparski

Maddie Shiparski is a sophomore at DePaul University studying Interactive and Social Media and Graphic Design.


Corey Buchillon

M.S. In Human-Computer Interaction, now a User Experience Researcher at W. W. Grainger, Inc.

Kyle Burger

B.S. in Interactive and Social Media.

Jenny Hanna

B.S. in Interactive and Social Media.

Aarti Israni

M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction.

Phoebe Larner

M.S. in Human Computer Interaction, now User Experience Researcher at Humana.

Lauren Lucchese

M.S. in Human Computer Interaction, now UX Content Strategist at Capital One.

Ivanda Melo

B.S. in Interactive and Social Media.

Gelayol Moradzadeh

M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction.

Emily Moser

B.S. in Interactive and Social Media now User Experience Specialist at Centralis.

Mayi Nabine

B.S. in Interactive and Social Media.

Laura Paradis

M.S. in Human Computer Interaction, now at Motorola.

Michael Schutzenhofer

M.A./Ph.D. in Psychological Science.