Eureka Foong profile pic Hi! My name is Eureka.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Technology and Social Behavior, a joint program in computer science and communication at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and am seeking academic and industry research positions beginning June 2020. This year, I helped organize more than 30 faculty and PhD fellows involved in design-based research as the Northwestern Design Research Cluster Senior Fellow.

I work with Elizabeth Gerber in the Delta Lab to understand and design technologies to support the challenges freelance creative professionals face with presenting themselves online to earn equitable pay and remain employable. I am leading a project with Joy Kim and Mira Dontcheva at Adobe Research in San Francisco building on this work in one of the largest online creative communities. I am also doing independent mixed-methods research understanding workers' pricing strategies on one of the largest English-speaking online labor makretplaces. My work is being advised by my committee members, Darren Gergle, Jeremy Birnholtz, and Joy Kim.

I have a strong background in experimental and user experience research, especially within leadership roles. I earned my bachelor's degree from Linfield College in cognitive psychology and media studies. During my time as the first lead UX researcher at Piktochart, I helped develop a culture of design thinking in less than 10 months among almost 50 graphic designers, web developers and marketers. I am actively seeking leadership and post-doctoral research opportunities after graduation where I can contribute to answering fundamental research questions at the intersection of labor, creativity, and human-computer interaction.

Recent Accomplishments

Recent Projects

Presenting the Artist behind the Artwork: Guiding Freelance Designers as They Curate Effective Professional Online Portfolios

Method: Needfinding interviews, prototype testing, experiment

Millions of creative professionals use online platforms every day to make connections with new clients and perform paid work. Designing an online portfolio of projects that demonstrates a fit with a specific group for clients is critical if freelancers want to persuade clients to hire them over other candidates. Because clients spend little time viewing these portfolios, it is important for freelancers to highlight and include certain projects. However, freelancers’ personal beliefs about their favorite work can cloud their judgments about which projects to highlight that would demonstrate skills that would be desirable to a potential client. For example, a freelancer might include a personal project that they enjoyed working on, but does not necessarily demonstrate the kinds of work they want to be known for or do in the future. Current online tutorials often provide vague, generic recommendations on curating portfolios, while metrics (e.g., page views, likes on projects) fail to help freelancers understand the reasons why a project is receiving more or less attention than anticipated. I have conducted 26 needfinding interviews with freelance designers to understand how an online tool might guide this curation process. Through an experiment with 95 graphic designers, I have learned that written prompts can encourage community members to write portfolio-focused feedback, but this feedback may lack the specificity and self-reflection necessary for freelancers to curate their portfolio. I am continuing this research by developing a tool to encourage self-reflection during the curation process.
Work in progress with Adobe Research

How Can HCI Learn From and Contribute to Research on Freelancing and Self-presentation in Fields Such as Sociology and Organizational Behavior?

Method: Literature review of more than 106 peer-reviewed sources

Worldwide, freelancers are a prominent group of workers who face growing job opportunities via online labor platforms. Freelancers represent 6.9% of workers in the US, and freelancing in the EU has grown by 24% from 2008 to 2015. Nevertheless, freelancers face several challenges with presenting themselves online that is necessary to stay employable, such as determining how much to charge clients to meet market demands and constantly adapting their portfolio of work to attract various clients. Online labor marketplaces and social networking sites may support the self-presentation and employability of freelancers by offering access to peers and a wider audience for their services. However, these systems also introduce new issues for self-presentation. For example, gender and work experience may influence freelancers’ ability to present reasonable bill rates for their services. While human-computer interaction (HCI) scholars have begun to understand how freelancers use social networking sites for self-presentation, we do not yet understand how to effectively design socio-technical systems that support freelancers in presenting themselves online. Using Kaufer's literature review methods, I am conducting a comparative survey of research in sociology, organizational science, communication, and HCI about identity and self-presentation in freelancing. This review will provide HCI scholars with a theoretical foundation for designing online technologies that support freelancers.
Work in progress for submission to the ACM Journal on Transactions on Social Computing

Women (Still) Ask for Less: Gender Differences in Hourly Rate in an Online Labor Marketplace

Method: Big data analysis

In many traditional labor markets, women earn less on average compared to men. However, it is unclear whether this discrepancy persists in the online gig economy, which bears important differences from the traditional labor market (e.g., more flexible work arrangements, shorter-term engagements, reputation systems). In this study, we collected self-determined hourly bill rates from the public profiles of 48,019 workers in the United States (48.8% women) on Upwork, a popular gig work platform. The median female worker set hourly bill rates that were 74% of the median man's hourly bill rates, a gap than cannot be entirely explained by online and offline work experience, education level, and job category. However, in some job categories, we found evidence of a more complex relationship between gender and earnings: women earned more overall than men by working more hours, outpacing the effect of lower hourly bill rates. To better support equality in the rapidly growing gig economy, we encourage continual evaluation of the complex gender dynamics on these platforms and discuss whose responsibility it is to address inequalities. I am currently working on a follow-up mixed-methods research project to understand freelancers' pricing strategies and understand these somewhat contradictory findings.
Eureka Foong, Nicholas Vincent, Brent Hecht, and Elizabeth M. Gerber. 2018. Women (Still) Ask For Less: Gender Differences in Hourly Rate in an Online Labor Marketplace. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 2, CSCW, Article 53 (November 2018), 21 pages. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3274322

Novice and Expert Sensemaking of Crowdsourced Feedback

Method: Think-aloud quasi-experiment with design experts and novices

Online feedback exchange (OFE) systems are an increasingly popular way to test concepts with millions of target users before going to market. Yet, we know little about how designers make sense of this abundant feedback. This empirical study investigates how expert and novice designers make sense of feedback in OFE systems. We observed that when feedback conflicted with frames originating from the participant's design knowledge, experts were more likely than novices to question the inconsistency, seeking critical information to expand their understanding of the design goals. Our results suggest that in order for OFE systems to be truly effective, they must be able to support nuances in sensemaking activities of novice and expert users.
Eureka Foong, Darren Gergle, and Elizabeth M. Gerber. 2017. Novice and Expert Sensemaking of Crowdsourced Design Feedback. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 1, CSCW, Article 45 (December 2017), 18 pages. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3134680

Online Feedback Exchange: A Framework for Understanding the Socio-Psychological Factors

Method: Literature review, design-based research, user testing, experiment

To meet the demand for authentic, timely, and affordable feedback, researchers have explored technologies to connect designers with feedback providers online. While researchers have implemented mechanisms to improve the content of feedback, most systems for online feedback exchange do not support an end-to-end cycle, from help-seeking to sense-making to action. Building on extant literature in learning sciences, design, organizational behavior, and online communities, we propose a conceptual framework to highlight critical processes that affect online feedback exchange. We contribute research questions for future feedback systems and argue that online feedback systems must be able to support designers through five activities that happen before, during, and after the feedback exchange. Our framework suggests that systems should address broader socio-psychological factors, such as how intent should be communicated online, how dialogue can support the interpretation of feedback, and how to balance the tradeoffs of anonymizing feedback providers.
Eureka Foong, Steven P. Dow, Brian P. Bailey, and Elizabeth M. Gerber. 2017. Online Feedback Exchange: A Framework for Understanding the Socio-Psychological Factors. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4454-4467. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025791

Past Projects

Eliciting curiosity through digital rails

Method: Field observations, surveys

From March to September 2016, I was part of Dr. Mike Horn's research team that redesigned digital reading rails at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I contributed design ideas, tested prototypes, collected video and audio data from museum visitors, and learned how to calculate key success metrics. Our goal was to prompt deeper learning conversations about artifacts in the Cyrus Tang Hall of China. The preliminary work on this project will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA '17) in June 2017.

Learning on the Job: Training crowdworkers to learn complex skills through micro-tasks

Method: Pilot studies, proposed online experiment

Many platforms exist today that make large tasks possible by crowdsourcing smaller micro-tasks. However, the people who engage in such crowdwork face unstable employment and less-than-enriching work environments. With Dr. Liz Gerber and Dr. Steven Franconeri, I am interested to know how crowdwork could be made more valuable to workers. We started exploring a way for crowdworkers to learn about graphic design by being paid for their feedback on other designs. We wanted to know if workers can develop expertise on these platforms and what types of features would make this possible.
Workshop paper

Crowds that hack: Problem solving at a civic hackathon

Method: Participant observation, interviews

For a class on field methods, I started conducting participant observations and interviews at Chi Hack Night, a weekly civic hack night in downtown Chicago. I was interested in learning what motivates people to volunteer their time to solving tough societal problems with tech, as well as how a group of unrelated individuals explore a problem space. I was part of the Access to Justice group that is trying to connect disparate resources in the city to help the formerly incarcerated adapt to life outside prison.

Upcoming Events

Fun Fact

In high school, I trained in Chinese contemporary dance for 4 years, performing with the Eastern Dancer company in Penang, Malaysia. I also trained in contemporary jazz for 2 years with Van Collins in Chicago and performed in a tribute performance for choreographer Duwane Pendarvis. I'm currently improving my ballet technique and recently began training en pointe.

Contact Me

Segal Design Institute
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
2133 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208

eureka@u.northwestern.edu
eureka.foong@gmail.com

Download my CV