Tonya Nguyen

I'm a first-year PhD student at the Berkeley School of Information, advised by Professor Niloufar Salehi. My research is in the field of human-computer interaction and social computing. I'm passionate about democratizing virtual spaces, designing fairer and more equitable AI, and developing technical systems that enable political participation and social wellbeing.

In the past, I researched task design and team viability at Stanford HCI, built chatbots to understand how listening and talking to an AI can lead to more instances of self-disclosure, and drove the design direction of UC Berkeley's largest non-partisan political magazine.

I graduated from UC Berkeley, where I curated an interdisciplinary major in Computer Science, Design, and Critical Theory. For my undergraduate thesis, I wrote about how online affordances and algorithmic curation within ethnic-based, virtual counterpublics enable the emergence of diasporic identity work. I also taught UC Berkeley's Beyond Design Thinking DeCal and served as head TA of Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction Design. I am lucky to also have been involved with Innovative Design, ASUC OCTO, and Barbell at Berkeley.

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updated 04/18/21

  • How technology and network connectivity plays a role in community resilience and mutual aid networks
  • How to engage under-served communities in the process of school assignment algorithm design and policy

  • how to get more comfortable on a longboard :-)
  • 5 kanji a day!
  • 👁👄👁 how to do my phd entirely in my room, lol
  • about how cool ants are
  • how to perfect my tofu making process by trial and error


Binge-listening to

Past Projects

My—non-research related—projects. From graphic design to digital fabrication, I've always loved making things.

Transportation & Wearable Design
Dérivé: Shoes Your Own Adventure →
Dérivé is a dynamic mode of discovery that lights the path to an adventure. My roles in this project included protoyping, wireframing, Arduino programming, and mobile app product design.
Wearable Design for Stress Relief, Grounding Practices Instant Groundification → is an interactive bracelet that mediates grounding practices for relaxation and bodily awareness to ground users during stressful times. My roles in this project included literature review, programming, industrial design, and prototyping.
Protest Design, Public Art Installation
Hidden Systems: Black Box Ethics →
Heuristic Algorithm is an exploration of hidden mechanisms with the visual metaphor of a black box. My roles in this project included concept generation, programming, and prototyping.