Dr. Abdullah X. Ali, Ph.D. (he/him)

Design and Innovation Consultant @Amazon.

👋🏼 Hi there!



I am a creative scientist with more than 8 years of experience working in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). I have collaborated with world-renowned researchers and designers at both academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington and leading industry companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Work Experience



o Formed the Prototyping And Design (PAD) Studio to provide human-centered design consulting services for AWS customers.

o Formulated the Human-Centered Cloud (HCC) Foundations service offering for AWS Professional Services, to develop new cloud-based experiences.

o Delivered the HCC Foundations service to 5 different customers and 7 different teams to design net-new cloud applications achieving a 100% green-light to production rate.

o Consulted an electric vehicle service provider customer on the development of a new platform, strategically set a vision and produced a 3 min. pitch video for their product that was pivotal for them to land a Fortune 5 client.

o Designed the user experience for the AWS Cost Calculator app and provided feedback for the design of AWS Flux service.

o Led initiatives to instill an organization-wide design culture by giving multiple internal talks about the importance of human-centered design, organizing internal team-building activities, and combated the culture of “I am not a designer” by giving out “designer certificates” after guiding colleagues through basic design tasks.



o Owned project from inception to delivery.

o Conceptualized multi-modal input on a custom-built app for an undisclosed project and ran evaluation via a user study with 16 participants.

o Delivered design recommendations to development teams and presented results to the organization’s SVP.


Microsoft Research

o Owned research agenda.

o Created software to assess the readability of 200 web pages with 346 participants online.

o Planned, ran and distilled the results of a survey with 161 participants exploring the needs of searchers with dyslexia resulting in 2 academic papers with 3 partners.


University of Washington

Project Leader | Distributed Interaction Design

o Established research agendas to create and test interactions remotely.

o Developed an online research platform to run online user studies consisting of two tools that tripled study participation and increased analysis speed by 400%.

o Supervised 5 students assigning research and development tasks and holding weekly meetings.

o Authored 3 publications at top-tier academic conferences like CHI and UIST.

Project Leader | Reimagining Computer Iconography

o Directed a team masters students running user studies investigating young adult technology users’ perception of icons.

o Mentored students throughout the research process teaching user study, data collection and analysis skills.

o Reviewed and conducted qualitative and quantitative data analysis of three studies and distilled findings into an academic journal article.

UX Lecturer | Design Thinking Methods

o Conceived and executed a 10-week project-focused Design Thinking course.

o Led a design studio class teaching 35 students Design Thinking methods supervising 7 teams solving problems through iterative prototyping.

o Guided experimental designs, evaluating 7 projects through user testing and presenting results in video pitches.

A Leader of Teams | Masters Capstone Projects

o Led 7 teams of ~5 members collaborating with industry clients (Microsoft, T-Mobile, University of Washington, City of Seattle).

o Ran weekly meetings with stakeholders, ensured teams followed their timelines and hit their objectives .

o Reviewed UX deliverables, provided feedback and guided students creating project pitches to clients.


Carnegie Mellon University

o Co-invented Dytective: a game detecting the risk of dyslexia with machine learning. Programmed front-end of the Dytective game in HTML, CSS and JS and back-end in PHP and MySQL.

o Evaluated Dytective with more than 10,000 participants in the US, Spain, and Colombia.

o Demoed Dytective and won best demo award at the ASSETS 2015 accessibility conference.

o Competed in the semi-finals of the AI & Robotics for Good International competition (placed 7th of 600+ contestants).

o Collaboration resulted in 4 published peer-reviewed papers.


University of Maryland Baltimore County

Researcher + Developer | Adaptive Pointing

o Invented a system alerting individuals with motor impairments of pointing problems and adapts the UI as a Chrome extension in HTML, CSS and JS with a back-end data collection server in PHP.

o Collaborated with a team of 7 researchers, delivering 4 publications.

Project Lead + Developer | Gesture-based Lock Screen

o Devised a sequential gesture-driven Android lock-screen prototype app implemented using the Android JAVA SDK.

o Evaluated the lock-screen concept usability through contextual inquiries with 16 participants resulting in 2 publications.

Researcher | Assistive Tech 3D Models

o Collected and analyzed data from an online 3D model repository using the card-sorting method, resulting in a best-paper award-winning publication.


2016–2020 Ph.D. | Human-Computer Interaction

University of Washington

2016–2018 M.S. | Information Science

University of Washington

2014–2016 M.S. | Human-Centered Computing

University of Maryland Baltimore County

2010–2014 B.S. | Information Systems

University of Maryland Baltimore County


2018 CHI 2018 Student volunteer registration fee

2017 HCOMP Doctoral consortium travel grant

2015 ASSETS 2015 Best demo award

2015 CHI 2015 Best paper award

2015 W4A Best paper nomination

2014–2016 National Science Foundation LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship


2020—Present Founder

Studio89.Design, LLC

o A creative studio offering design by science services like my own Distributed Interaction Design (DXD) method to design inclusive emerging technologies, as well as experience design offerings for services, products and branding.

o Giving talks and guest lectures about Distributed Interaction Design.

o Guest lecture at Harvard University, 2021

o Guest lecture at the University of Michigan, 2021


2021 Distributed Interaction Design

Harvard University

2021 Distributed Interaction Design

Towson University

2021 Distributed Interaction Design

University of Michigan

2021 I am Iron Man: Priming Improves Gesture Learnability and Memorability

CHI Conference. Virtual

2020 Distributed Interaction Design

Dataminr, NY

2020 Distributed Interaction Design

Carnegie Mellon University/ Apple, Pittsburgh

2019 Crowdlicit: A System for Conducting Distributed Studies.

CHI Conference. Glasgow, UK.

2018 Crowdsourcing Similarity Judgements for Agreement Analysis.

UIST Conference. Berlin, Germany

2018 The Crowd: Participant and Researcher.

DUB Group 2nd Doctoral Colloquium. Seattle, WA

2018 Crowdlicit: A Platform for Crowd-Based Elicitation Studies.

HCOMP Doctoral Consortium Quebec City

2017 Crowdlicit: A Platform for Crowd-Based Elicitation Studies.

HCOMP Doctoral Consortium Quebec City

2017 Research Projects from the Mobile + Accessible Design Lab

Presentation to the Chief Accessibility Officer of Microsoft, WA.

2016 Dytective: A Game for Detecting Dyslexia

UMBC Graduate Research Conference

2016 Dytective: A Game for Detecting Dyslexia

7th place at International AI & Robotics for good competition, UAE.

2016 Dytective: A Game for Detecting Dyslexia

Best Demo! ACM ASSETS 2015, Portugal.

2015 Understanding Design Considerations for Adaptive User Interfaces

W4A conference, Florence, Italy.

2015 Notification Design Preferences for an Adaptive Pointing User Interface

Graduate Research Conference at UMBC


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  1. Ali, A. X., McAweeny, E. R., Wobbrock, J. O. Anachronism by Design:Anachronism by Design: Understanding Young Adults’ Perceptions of Computer Iconography.Under review

Peer-Reviewed Conference Papers

  1. Ali, A. X., Morris, M. R., Wobbrock, J. O. 2019. Crowdlicit: A System for Conducting Distributed End-User Elicitation and Identification Studies. In 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI ’19), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA.

  2. Ali, A. X., Morris, M. R., Wobbrock, J. O. (2018). Crowdsourcing Similarity Judgments for Agreement Analysis in End-User Elicitation Studies. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '18). Berlin, Germany. New York: ACM Press, pp. 177-188.

  3. Martin-Hammond, A., Hamidi, F., Bhalerao, T., Ortega, C., Ali, A., Hornback, C., Means, C., Hurst, A. (2018). Designing an Adaptive Web Navigation Interface for Users with Variable Pointing Performance. Proceedings of the Web for All conference (W4A ‘18). Paris, France.

  4. Morris, M. R., Fourney, A., Ali, A., Vonessen, L. (2018). Understanding the Needs of Searchers with Dyslexia. Proceedings of the conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18). Montreal, CA. New York: ACM Press.

  5. Rello, L., Ballesteros, M., Ali, A., Serra, M., Alarcón, D., Bigham, J.P. (2016). Dytective: Diagnosing risk of dyslexia with a game. Proceedings of Pervasive Health ‘16

  6. Rello, L., Williams, K., Ali, A., Cushen, N., Bigham, J.P. (2016) Towards a Multilingual Dyslexia Detection using Online Games. Proceedings of the Web for All conference (W4A ’16).

  7. Ali, A., Kuber, R., Aviv, A.J. (2016). Developing and Evaluating a Gestural and Tactile Mobile Interface to Support User Authentication. Proceedings of the iConference ’16.

  8. Buehler, E., Branham, S., Ali, A., Chang, J., Hofmann, M., Hurst, A., and Kane, S.K. (2015). Sharing is Caring: Assistive Technology Designs on Thingiverse. Proceedings of the conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15) (Best paper award top 1%)

  9. Martin-Hammond, A., Ali, A., Hornback, C., Hurst, A. (2015). Understanding Design Considerations for Adaptive User Interfaces for Accessible Pointing with Older and Younger Adults. Proceedings of the Web for All conference (W4A ‘15). Florence, Italy. (Best paper nomination)

Peer-Reviewed Conference Notes

  1. Fourney, A., Morris, M.R., Ali, A., Vonessen, L. (2018). Assessing the Readability of Web Search Results for Searchers with Dyslexia. Proceedings of SIGIR ‘18. Ann Arbor, MI.

  2. Rello, L., Romero, E., Rauschenberger, M., Ali, A., Williams, K., Bigham, J.P., Cushen White, N. (2018). Screening Dyslexia for English Using HCI Measures and Machine Learning. ACM Digital Health 2018

  3. Martin-Hammond, A., Hamidi, F., Bhalerao, T., Ali, A., Hornback, C., Means, C., Hurst, A. (2017). The Participatory Design of an Adaptive Interface to Support Users with Changing Pointing Ability. ACM ASSETS 2017.

  4. Martin-Hammond, A., Ali, A., Means, C., Hornback, C., Hurst, A. Supporting Awareness of Pointing Behavior among Diverse Groups. Pervasive Health 2016

  5. Ali, A. (2015). Sequential Gestural Passcodes on Google Glass. ACM ASSETS 2015 Student Research Competition

  6. Rello, L., Ali, A., Bigham, J.P. (2015). Dytective: Toward a Game to Detect Dyslexia. Proceedings of the ACM ASSETS ‘15 (Best demo award)

  7. Ali, A., Kuber, R., Aviv, A.J. (2015) “H4Plock: Supporting Mobile User Authentication through Gestural Input and Tactile Output. Proceedings of the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security 2015

  8. Ali, A. The Crowd: Participant and Researcher. Utilizing Online Crowds to Run and Analyze Elicitation Studies. DUB Group 2018.

  9. Ali, A. Crowdlicit: Towards a Platform for Crowd-Based Design. AAAI HCOMP 2017.

Magazine Articles

  1. Abdullah X. Ali, Meredith Ringel Morris, and Jacob O. Wobbrock. 2021. Distributed interaction design: designing human-centered interactions in a time of social distancing. interactions 28, 2 (March - April 2021), 82–87. DOI:






You can download my resume here
AX Ali Creative
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Updated 12/21/2021

dr. ax ali