about me

Me and Design

I was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario. It’s a small, French Canadian mining town that got 10ft of snow every winter. My parents are from Hong Kong, pretty much the opposite of Sudbury. This resulted in me learning Cantonese, French, and English kind of all at the same time. I am still mostly fluent in all three. Ok no, that’s a total lie. My french is pretty abysmal now.

I majored in Artificial Intelligence because it sounded cool. I started out doing math and life sciences. Then switched to toxicology. Then, liking none of what I was learning, scanned the academic calendar and applied for the first program that caught my eye, Artificial Intelligence. And there I was in second year of college, with no computer science background, learning about complexity of sort algorithms, and writing code to solve mazes. I had to do summer school every year of college to catch up, but I did it!

Getting into design was a complete accident. In my third year of college I was applying for an NSERC grant to continue some psychology studies I was doing at the time. My lab coordinator couldn’t find the application and instead gave me an application for an internship at the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center. I somehow convinced people there that I’d be great at doing interface design. Long story short, one of my mentors during this internship was Shelley Evenson, who convinced me to apply for the Interaction Design Masters program at Carnegie Mellon. She eventually became my graduate thesis project advisor.

I feel pretty lucky to be doing design as a career. Given how this all happened pretty much by accident, it’s amazing that it brought me here. I’ve always been the type to really try and understand everything to solve a problem, and what better field to do that in than design! I’ve had the opportunity to solve all sorts of problems using the design process I inherited at CMU, by digging deep into people’s behaviors and motivations and by simply observing the world.

Me and non-design… trivia style:

Current hobbies: crafting, playing piano in a chamber group, cooking, traveling, reading, tennis
Something I’m proud of: I started a chamber quintet in high school that was invited to perform for the then Governer General of Canada and her husband. That was pretty cool.
Favorite place I’ve visited: Galapagos Islands.
Childhood career dreams: marine biologist, concert pianist, doctor, travel writer, food critic. Pretty respectable, right? My sister’s dream was to be a cashier. She’s in medical school now. Go figure, she’s the one who now gets the “you’re going to be a doctor… fantastic!” and I get the “… wait, what do you do again?”.
Favorite place to live in San Francisco: Alamo Square. I’ve moved three times since living here, and all have been within a block of the park. I love it here :)