Leah Zhang

This article is part of our Alumni Stories series, which focuses on perspectives of graduates of Carleton’s Human-Computer Interaction Master’s program. Today, we are talking to Leah Zhang-Kennedy.

Q: What did you do before coming to Carleton?

A: Before my Masters, I had a specialized Bachelor of Design undergraduate Honours degree from York University. I worked in industry as a graphic designer afterwards for a marketing agency and developed e-learning courses and marketing materials for pharmaceutical companies and research institutes.

Q: What did you do during your HCI Master’s?

A: My Master’s thesis, “Improving mental models of computer security through information graphics,” investigated whether integrated visual-textual education strategies and interactive user experience help to form an effective, memorable, and persuasive approach for computer security understanding by altering user perception and improving user behaviour. I created and developed Secure Comics, a three-part interactive comic for teaching cyber literacy. This work was supervised by Dr. Robert Biddle and Dr. Sonia Chiasson, and promoted by MediaSmarts for use in elementary and high schools across Canada as part of cybersecurity lessons.

Illustration for Cyberheroes, Leah’s interactive children’s ebook about online privacy.

Q: How has your career progressed since graduating?

A: I am an Assistant Professor in Interaction Design and User Experience Research at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, University of Waterloo. Previously, I joined the Stratford School as a Lecturer teaching user experience design and research after completing my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Carleton University.

Q: Any reflections?

A: When I began my Masters in 2011, Carleton was one of Canada’s first universities that offered an interdisciplinary HCI research Master’s program. My favourite part about the program is its interdisciplinarity and the opportunity to work with researchers and students from various backgrounds. Through the program, Drs Sonia Chiasson and Robert Biddle introduced me to usable privacy and security, which became my research area.

Q: How can readers contact you?

A: Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or see more of my work on my website.