Jennifer Mankoff

Interests: Toolkits; Interaction Techniques; Ubiquitous Computing; Energy & Sustainability; Machine Learning, Assistive Technologies; Visualization; Peripheral Displays

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Jennifer Mankoff

Office: NSH 3612E
Admin: Marian D'Amico (NSH 3526 412 268 1215)
Phone: +1 (412) 567-7720
Fax: +1 (412) 268-1266
Admin: Katie Kolter

Human Computer Interaction Institute,
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891

Research Interests

My research focuses on information technology as a prosthetic that can extend what people and societies are capable of knowing and doing. Along the way, I have tackled both
tools work (such as my current work with and Scott Hudson on handling inputs with uncertainty) as well as behavioral work (such as my study of how individuals with chronic health conditions deal with conflicting information online) and work that combines both (such as my work with and Scott Hudson on monitoring and modeling the input of individuals). My work tends to be driven by real-world problems, and recently, much of my work has had a focus on sustainability. Working with Tawanna Dillahunt, Scott Matthews and many other faculty, staff and students, I have explored the use of online social networks such as, combined with sensing tools such as home energy monitors or mobile phones, to monitor and modify people's behavior. These links will take you to more details on current projects:

Enabling tools and techniques:

I have had a long-running interest on "lowering the floor" for the use of advanced computer science and human computer interaction concepts in extending our ability to solve real-world problems. One important theme in this work has been the development of better models for handling uncertain input. Some of the advances I and my collaborators have achieved include improved ways to model uncertain input, the use of monte-carlo methods to maintain and track uncertainty throughout the very complicated dispatch process associated with input handling, and methods for resolving uncertainty both automatically and with user input. Ongoing work I am hoping to do includes exploring how these techniques can be of use in sensing-based systems and developing better support for the machine-learning end of such systems.

I have also had a long-running interest in how we can improve the processes available to evaluate interactive systems. In collaboration with Anind Dey I developed one of the first evaluation techniques suitable for ambient and peripheral displays (along with a toolkit for building such displays, the Peripheral Display Toolkit. I have also developed toolkit support for prototyping and evaluating early stage ubiquitous computing applications, (Momento). Finally, I've worked on a series of tools exploring ways of lowering the floor for building applications that would be truly usable by individuals with physical impairments. Much of this work has been focused on evaluation techniques (such as a comparative study of how designers with little accessibility training can best find the biggest accessibility problems with their websites).


My work on sustainability, which begain in 2006, has been focused on the use of easily accessible online tools, combined with sensors, to provide more information and better advice to individuals who wish to reduce their energy use. Since the project began, we have expanded it to include social web techniques encouraging behavioral change, and to function at organizational as well as individual levels. The figurehead of the project is, a website designed to encourage individuals to reduce their ecological footprints. It is also a deployment platform for a set of projects focused around energy use, including projects to More information about our research agenda, our funders, press, and so on can be found at

Health 2.0:

Chronic illness is defined as an illness or disease that is long-term or permanent, as opposed to acute. For many individuals living with a chronic condition, the web has served as an important medium for researching treatment options, developing a support network, and sharing information and experiences with others.

Our purpose is to learn about how individuals with chronic illness, and their caregivers, use resources available online. Such resources include sites offering medical information as well as research and experience blogs, forums, and others.

Currently, we are focusing our work on individuals with Lyme disease. Because this illness is disputed in both diagnosis and treatment methods among healthcare professionals (Weintraub, 2008), individuals with Lyme disease depend on online advocacy and activism to manage their condition. At the same time, divergent and conflicting information is common online. How does this affect the experience and outcomes for individuals with Lyme disease?

More information about our research agenda and current studies can be found at

Adaptive Assistance tools: sensing and adapting to user need and context:

Our current work in this arena involves gathering hundreds of hours of mouse and keyboard use by individuals with and without disabilities. We are developing analysis tools for finding targets and machine learning algorithms capable of extracting information about performance from this data.

More information about this work can be found at graduating Phd student Amy Hurst's website.

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