The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Narges Mahyar Joins CICS Faculty

Narges Mahyar joined the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) as an assistant professor in 2018. Prior to her appointment, Mahyar completed two postdoctoral fellowships, first in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, and later in the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).


Mahyar's research has focused on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), a design-theory approach to computational problem solving. While at UCSD, she developed CommunityCrit, an HCI-driven civic engagement tool to solicit rapid and wide-ranging feedback on urban development projects. It was deployed successfully in 2017 by the city of San Diego, where the program collected hundreds of community comments on “El Nudillo,” an ambitious infrastructural development project.


Mahyar currently works with CICS PhD students to develop methods of converting that feedback into easy-to-use data, using Natural Language Processing to organize comments by various, systematized factors, including content, level of support, subjectivity, and many more. Ultimately, CommunityCrit provides more than just user friendly design: the goal is to give community members a voice.


The same passion to create positive community impact that fuels her research extends to her work as a professor as well. Mahyar is motivated to “inspire [her students] to work in [Human-Computer Interaction].” She is dedicated to providing individual support and guidance for her students, and proudly displays photos of her former UCSD mentees in her office.


Mahyar studied art in her younger years, beginning with acrylic paintings and then moving into watercolors, impressionism, and finally abstract art. Her work in Human-Computer Interaction is a natural marriage of her fine arts background and computer science expertise. She hopes to teach a class on data visualization in which both computer science and non-computer science students may enroll, allowing them to learn interdisciplinary skills.


When she is not teaching, researching, or working with her students, Mahyar focuses on spending time with her husband and seven-year-old son.


Mahyar completed her Master’s degree at Malaya University and received her PhD from the University of Victoria in Canada. Her research papers have received multiple awards at premier venues, including the outstanding paper award from Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2017, and regularly reviews for most major conferences and journals on HCI, visualization, and social computing.