The Authentic User Experience Lab (AUX Lab) is part of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz and is located in UCSC’s Silicon Valley Campus. We integrate empirical and humanistic methods to do research with subcultures. We publish in human-computer interaction (HCI) and other related venues (e.g., CHI, DIS, CSCW, ECSCW, ICWSM). Take a look at our projects and publications.

By subverting the now, subcultures become harbingers for the future practices and values of mainstream culture. Contemporary trends (e.g., in art) and movements (e.g., feminism) can be traced back to subcultures. Lying on the fringes of society, subcultures creatively reinforce and communicate their distinctive traditions—–their authenticity—in a sensor-rich and socially-networked society.

We characterize this relationship of technology with subcultures, design systems to support their notion of authenticity, and fashion new frameworks and methods to inform designs that help people strive for meaningful lives. We subscribe to the idea that society as a whole can learn a great deal about how to live from subcultures, the delightful, diverse microcosms they are.

We are always looking for new collaborators. If you are interested in doing research with us, please contact Professor Norman Makoto Su.

Please note: For Fall Quarter 2023, Norman is on parental leave. Please expect delays in replying to inquiries.


April 2024: Norman is a Paper Chair for CSCW 2025, the premier venue for human-centered research in the design, use, and evaluation of technologies that support or affect social, cooperative, and collaborative practices in groups, organizations, communities, and networks.

Congratulations to Rebecca Lietz for passing her PhD advancement and to Akash Chaudhary on completing his CM masters thesis! Akash will be continuing on as a PhD student in the AUX lab.

Veronica presented her work at SIGCSE in Portland, OR on developing a new ethics and activism course for our HCI MS program.

New CHI paper spearheaded by colleagues at Brigham Young University on testing different video interventions to educate users about online privacy was accepted.

October 2023: Two new doctors from the AUX lab are heading off to greener pastures!

Dr. Rosemary Steup successfully defended her dissertation on “Datafication and Attunement in Farming and Dementia Care” and is now an Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Scholar of Computer Science & Engineering at Lehigh University!

Dr. Stephen Sher successfully defended his dissertation on “Expanding Livestream Experience and Interaction Design through Examining the Videogame Speedrunning Subculture” and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Software Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology!

We also say goodbye to Professor Noopur Raval. She is now an assistant professor in Information Studies at UCLA!


We also welcome PhD students Peiyao, Young, Rebecca (advised by Steve Whittaker) and Bengisu (advised by Bilge Mutlu) to the AUX lab.

March 2023: Congrats to Majdah and Stephen for accepted CSCW papers. Majdah coins “comfort activism” to describe how professional photographers of the minority Shīʿa Muslims employ a quiet form of activism.

Stephen conceptualizes Games Done Quick as design material to unpack how livestreaming is configured to create a compelling in-person viewing experience for participants.

October 2023: Congrats to Rosemary for her new CSCW paper on attunement work, drawn from fieldwork of farmer-developers!

Welcome to new, awesome AUX collaborators!: Dr. Noopur Raval, Akash Chaudhary, Veronica Rivera (advised by David Lee), and Bhavani Seetharaman

March 2022: It has been nearly a year since we’ve done updates! Some highlights:

Dr. Majdah Alshehri successfully defended her dissertation, “The Photo-Making Practices of a Subculture: Moving the Inclusiveness Agenda Forward in HCI,” and is now faculty in the College of Computer and Information Sciences at King Saud University.

Rosemary and Stephen have passed their topic proposals.

An article we’re very excited to have out - a ToCHI paper by Sam, David, and Norman on the “Speech-like Techno-Masculinity” of dot-com era web design books.

EunJeong has started a new position as faculty at Syracuse University.

Congrats Dr. Alshehri, Rosemary, Stephen, Sam, and Dr. Cheon!

We said goodbye to Kaitlyn Timm, now a Social Worker with the Marion County Superior Court, Young Hwan Na, now an HCI/D masters student at Indiana University, and Lucas Kempe-Cook, now a technical trainer at Kite Pharma. Best wishes on your next journey!

April 2021: It has been a difficult time for everyone, but there is good news! Congratulations to Majdah for defending her topic proposal and Stephen for passing his quals! Belated congrats also to Rosemary for passing her quals last semester! We see great things ahead for all of them. Some recent work:

A CSCW paper by EunJeong and Norman on “Jarvis,” a RtD artifact for disseminating values for zero-waste practitioners.

A CHI paper by Sam, Bardia, David, and Norman describing the homogeneity of web design and its causes.

A trio of “affective” works co-authored by Norman: a book chapter on HCI and personal experiences of rurality, a CSCW paper on techlash with Amanda Lazar and Lilly Irani, and a CVPR paper on computer vision practitioners and researchers with David Crandall.