In this episode of ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts Denae Ford, a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research in the Software Analysis and Intelligence Team (SAINTes) group and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Human Centered Design and Engineering Department at the University of Washington. Her research lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction and software engineering. In her work she identifies and dismantles cognitive and social barriers by designing mechanisms to support software developer participation in online socio-technical ecosystems. Ford is also a recipient of the National GEM Consortium Fellowship, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowship. She is best known for her research on just-in-time mentorship as a mode to empower welcoming engagement in collaborative Q&A for online programming communities, including open-source software and work to empower marginalized software developers in online communities.
In the interview, Ford relates how an undergraduate research project inspired her to pursue a PhD in computing. She describes her approach in designing various research studies, the process she used to identify challenges and barriers to engagement in communities such as StackOverflow and GitHub, and how she and her collaborators went about building interventions. They also discuss how some of these interventions can be applied by industry. Ford also shares some future directions and developments in computing that most excite her—and the possibilities in making the field more equitable and inclusive.