Allison Woodruff's Biography

Allison Woodruff is a human-computer interaction researcher who uses social science methods to study people and their relationships with technology, drawing on the results to rethink existing technologies and invent new technologies. She often studies extreme users who take unusual measures in their use of technology, in order to uncover problems with existing computing paradigms and to draw inspiration for the design of new technologies for the broader population. She has conducted qualitative studies in a wide range of settings, such as green homes, museums, amusement parks, religious environments, low-income neighborhoods, street sweeper maintenance yards, and traditional work environments. She has also partnered with quantitative researchers to develop and study novel web search and information visualization tools.

To discover new technological opportunities, Allison draws on her interdisciplinary background in computer science, social science, and the humanities. She has 12 years of experience working for leading US corporate research laboratories. She is a co-inventor on 20 issued patents and has published extensively on topics such as mobile computing, sustainable technology, domestic technology, computer-mediated communication, and information visualization. Her work has been covered widely in the press, including the BBC and The Economist. Allison is passionate about using technology for social good, and she is an active advocate for research on sustainability. Her current project focuses on mobile environmental sensing and public policy (

Woodruff holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, an MS in Computer Science and an MA in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis, and a BA in English from California State University, Chico. While at the University of California, Berkeley, Woodruff was a member of the database research group led by Michael Stonebraker, and her dissertation focused on the generation of database visualizations that conform to the principle of constant information density. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Woodruff worked as a research scientist at Xerox PARC from 1998-2004, at Intel Research from 2004-2011, and at Google since 2011. In her spare time, she studies singing.

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