Adam Rule


I am a PhD trained human-computer interaction researcher and industry trained user experience researcher specializing in the design of data-driven software. My academic experience taught me to think deeply, explore widely, and communicate clearly while my industry experience taught me to add value, control scope, and meet deadlines.

I have an extensive qualitative and quantitative research toolkit and build custom software to collect and visualize data from people interacting with complex systems over time, both in the lab and in the wild.

My PhD focused on how people use computational notebooks and electronic medical records to document and communicate work involving large amounts of data. I also have prior experience visualizing medical equipment inventories and testing online shopping interfaces


Qualitative Methods

Contextual Inquiry, Usability Testing, Eye-Tracking, Field Studies, Task Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Personas

Prototyping & Design

Axure, Sketch

Software Development

Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS

Analysis & Visualization

Python, R, SQL, D3



University of California, San Diego
PhD Cognitive Science
Thesis: Design and Use of Computational Notebooks


University of Washingon
MS Human Centered Design & Engineering


University of Illinois
BS Industrial Engineering - Highest Honors




Using Visual Histories to Reconstruct the Mental Context of Suspended Activities
Adam Rule, Aurelien Tabard, Jim Hollan
Human-Computer Interaction 2017


[c5] - To Appear

Aiding Collaborative Reuse of Computational Notebooks with Annotated Cell Folding.
Adam Rule, Ian Drosos, Aurélien Tabard, Jim Hollan
CSCW 2018

[c4] - Honorable Mention (top 5% of submissions)

Exploration and Explanation in Computational Notebooks.
Adam Rule, Aurélien Tabard, Jim Hollan
CHI 2018


Validating free-text order entry for a note-centric EHR.
Adam Rule, Steven Rick, Michael Chiu, Phillip Rios, Shazia Ashfaq, Alan Calvitti, Wesley Chan, Nadir Weibel, Zia Agha
AMIA 2015


Restoring the Context of Interrupted Work with Desktop Thumbnails.
Adam Rule, Aurelien Tabard, Karen Boyd and Jim Hollan
Cog Sci 2015

[c1] - Honorable Mention (top 5% of submissions)



Traces: A Flexible, Open-Source Activity Tracker for Workplace Studies
Adam Rule, Aurelien Tabard, Jim Hollan
CSCW 2016




Design Thinking in Radiation Oncology
Adam Rule, Erin Gillespie, Nadir Weibel, Todd Pawlicki
HFES Healthcare 2016


Thinking in 4D: Preserving and Sharing Mental Context Across Time
Adam Rule, Aurelien Tabard, Jim Hollan
CSCW 2016


Human Values in Tracking and Sharing Computer-Mediated Activity at Work
Karen Boyd, Adam Rule, Aurelien Tabard, Jim Hollan
CSCW 2016


2013 - 2018

UC San Diego
Graduate Student Researcher - Employed a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to study the design and use of data-driven software. The three projects included in my dissertation were:

  1. Scraping and analyzing 1 million Jupyter Notebooks from GitHub, interviewing experienced data analysts about their notebook use
  2. Developing a Jupyter Notebook extension to assist with notebook cleaning, conducting a usability test with data science students and a field study with experts using the extension for their everyday work
  3. Prototyping a method for placing free-text medication orders within a clinical note and conducting a usability study with clinicians

Summer 2012

Design Intern - Conducted a half-dozen usability studies with customers of shopping interfaces for clothing and home goods. These included remote, field, and in-person studies of mobile and web interfaces.

Summer 2012

Technology Solutions Intern - Evaluated usability of inventory software for medical equipment in resource-constrained environments. Created interactive data visualizations for the same tool.

Summer 2011

Carnegie Mellon University
User Research Intern - Conducted contextual inquiries with robot team controllers. Crafted design guidelines for interfaces that control robot teams.

Summer 2010

Intel Research
User Research Intern - Conducted ethnographic study of a young man's experience with quadriplegia. Designed interactions with assistive robot.



National Library of Medicine Training Grant - 3 years tuition & stipend


Microsoft Design Expo - Best Presentation


University of Illinois Bronze Tablet - Top 3% GPA


IESE Departmental Awards - Outstanding IE Junior


Spring 2018

Teaching Assistant - COGS 10 - Cognitive Consequences of Technology

Winter 2017

Teaching Assistant - DSGN 1 - Design of Everyday Things

Winter 2016

Teaching Assistant - COGS 120 - HCI Design - Outstanding Teaching Award

Winter 2015

Teaching Assistant - COGS 102b - Cognitive Ethnography

Spring 2014

Teaching Assistant - COGS 102c - Cognitive Design Studio


Undergraduate Students

Kendall Youngstrom - Now at Google
Ram Dixit - Now MS a student in Biomedical Informatics at UT Houston
Karen Boyd - Now a PhD student at UMD's iSchool
Regina Cheng - Now a PhD student in HCDE at UW
Nathan Hassanzadeh



CHI 2016
AMIA 2015 - 2016