STATEMENT OF RESEARCH INTERESTS

I grew up breathing Internet. As a 5 year old in 1993, before most college students at that time had even heard of e-mail, I was logging into Pine and y-talking with people from all over the world. That year, I learned how to read, write, and code. Despite being exposed to technology so early on, experiencing the web for the first time was magical. Over the past five years of working as a software engineer and designer in tech, I've carried this fascination forward and increasingly find ways to build "magic" into web interfaces.

In my graduate research studies, I plan to find new ways to extend this "magic" beyond the web. I plan to not only look at the design and psychology of anthropomorphizing objects and devices, but also to build new systems or services to enable others to bring their own objects to life, making these types of human-object interactions ubiquitous. These systems and services must be as simple as learning HTML, allow the personality of its programmer to be expressed, and function seamlessly with existing objects. Through my work experience, I developed an intuitive sense for building & designing natural-feeling digital interfaces. I am increasingly curious about how these interfaces are beginning to bleed into the physical reality.

Over the past 3.5 years, I've worked as a software engineer at Square, building web interfaces to enable our merchants to interact with their customers in new, intuitive ways. Most recently, I spearheaded the development of digital receipts as a product, enabling this simple object to be used as a powerful tool for interaction. What started with just me trying to make a simple email look a bit nicer, ended with a suite of revenue-generating products tied to these emails that are used by millions of people a day. I loved having the ability to empower small businesses with the same tools as big businesses like Starbucks, and hope to carry a similar mentality of enabling creative individuals through my research.

One of the first teams I worked on at Square was the original Square Wallet team. This experience transformed the way I approach product design and software development. Whereas many products at the time (including our own) were attempting to tack on payments to existing technologies (such as check-ins and credit card readers), we worked to remove technology from the equation. By simply walking into a cafe, with your phone in your pocket, you could buy a cup of coffee just by saying your name to the barista. Although we were unable to scale the technology to compete with Apple Pay, this was an important experience in learning how to challenge the normal path toward product development and create magical experiences with the resources at hand.

In high school and university, I interned in the design department at Wolfram Research for 3 years, and worked with the Advanced Visualization Lab at the NCSA for a year. I contributed to the launch Wolfram Alpha, worked on the production team for the IMAX Hubble 3D, learned of the importance of the intersection of art and science, and understood the impact that technology can have on education. 

In my undergraduate at the University of Illinois, I mixed my own curriculum cockatil of design, computer science, and advertising courses to complete a dual degree. At the heart of this experience, I learned how to tread my own educational path, explore my own particular creative process, and pull together the knowledge I needed to pursue my personal goals.

I am particularly interested in building tools and products that enable people to experience and create magic in their own lives. Similar to how the early Internet was formed by hackers and every-day enthusiasts, by giving everyone access to easy-to-develop-with tools, we'll find a much richer ecosystem of human computer interaction. I believe that this can be made possible by aligning with the strength & resources of MIT's Media Lab.

With my experience working in the industry, extensive creative and technical training, an intuitive product and design sense, I believe that my background and interests align well with the Fluid Interfaces group at MIT. I would like to pursue academic research in this field to lay the groundwork for the execution of building new technology and products of the future. My research interests are particularly significant in pushing forward the boundaries within the intersection of engineering, interface design, media, and education.


EXPERIENCE

SQUARE

As an early software engineer at Square, I focused on building products to support our e-commerce platform and merchant to buyer communication tools.

Receipts & Feedback

Tech: (email & web– Ruby on Rails, HTML/SASS/email, JavaScript/Ember)

Catalyzed the formation of a dedicated team tasked with the transformation of Square Receipts into a revenue-generating product. Implemented the views, business logic, and architecture for the current SMS, web, and email receipts. Developed Receipts into a platform for future products. Led the launches for breaking out into a separate service, internationalization, automatic receipts, and Seller Feedback program.

 

In 2014, Square sent 147 million digital receipts; in the first six months of 2015, Square sent 105 million digital receipts. These receipts resulted in over 1.5 million monthly feedback communications sent by buyers to sellers through digital receipts.

PRESS

Wired: Square Turns the Lowly Receipt Into a Giant Opportunity

USAToday: Square looks to add value to digital receipts

AdWeek: Square Reinvents Digital Receipts With Simplified, Real Customer Feedback 

BusinessWeek: Jack Dorsey's Payment Startup Square Tries To Reinvent The Receipt


Square Market

Tech: (Ruby on Rails, HTML/SASS, JavaScript/Ember)

As a member of the original implementation team, I built the core interactions of the e-commerce platform and the interactive landing page to our designers’ specs.

Square Market is one of the main revenue drivers for Square's business. I saw the product grow from our original hackathon project, all the way to production. As well as building the product, I was on the ground with our users, learning more about their needs for growing their business & supporting their products.

 

PRESS

TNW: Square branches out into e-commerce with new Square Market virtual stores for US businesses

Engadget: Square Market launches, provides easy online storefronts for small businesses

Wired: Square’s New Online Stores Could Make Twitter Where You Shop


Square Gift Cards

Tech: (JavaScript/Ember, HTML/SASS, CSS3 animations)

Built an Ember app for Square's Gift Card unboxing flow, a complex 3D web CSS animation, using Ember as a finite state machine to navigate through the various steps of the animation, for receiving a gift card through Square Wallet. 

See the animation in action

PRESS

TutsPlus: How they did it

TNW: Square Wallet for iOS gets ability to send gift cards right from your store receipts

TechCrunch: Square Introduces Gift Cards: The Slow Death Of Physical Credit Cards And Cash Continues

FastCompany: Square Launches Gift Cards That Anyone Can Redeem, Even If You Don't Use Square


RECENT CLIENT WORK

Operator's marketing site (Node, JavaScript, Heroku, HTML/SASS)

TM's agency portfolio site (custom Squarespace template

Outschool design advising (Javascript/React, HTML/SASS, design)


RECENT PERSONAL PROJECTS

Fairfa.re (code & product)

A simple word scramble game (code & product)

100 Portraits of Nicolas Cage

Coming Soon: 3D Printed Emoji Rings

Coming Soon: 3D Printed Burrito Holder

Coming Soon: Mt. Zoomer


EXHIBITIONS, & PUBLICATIONS

Square Maker's Market, "Craft the Span" yarn wall installation, 2012

Square Maker's Market, "Chairs" screen print series, 2012

The Storefront, popsicle stick installation, 2013

Square Market's Market, "Give it Soul" laser cut LED typographical planter, 2013

Square Maker's Market, "Plant Feet" hand-crafted wooden illustration planters, 2013

Index/Fist Zine, "Susita" published illustration & poem, 2014

Room & Makers, "100 Portraits of Nicolas Cage" gallery show, 2014

Cafe la Vie, oil paintings solo show, 2014

Square, watercolor paintings solo show, 2015