Hi, I am Jason, a 2nd-year PhD student @UMD HCIL, working with Prof. Joel Chan.

About Me

Technological innovations and unprecedented challenges like global pandemic are dramatically changing the way people work. In the face of increasing automation and artificial intelligence in workplace and in society, we need to rethink the role of people and their relationships to technology. As an HCI researcher, I am passionate about investigating how to augment and enhance people’ performance in human-centered and creative tasks with which automation typically falls short, as “from automation to augmentation”. To be more specific, I build AI-powered systems to help people grapple with creative knowledge tasks.

Previously I have worked as a research intern at Dataminr Inc, reporting to Dr. Alex Jaimes (SVP and Chief Scientist); and as a researcher in the UCSD Design Lab, working with Prof. Steven Dow and Dr. Stephen MacNeil (now Prof. MacNeil). I also worked with Prof. Xiaojuan Ma at HKUST and Prof. Helen Meng at CUHK. My research led to publications accepted to top-tier HCI conferences including CHI, CSCW, UIST, as well as other venues with more specific focus such as CHIIR and C&C. My research has been supported by NSF, Office of Naval Research and Hong Kong UGC Theme-based Research Scheme. You could contact me by email: ding at umd dot edu | Curriculum Vitae

News & Updates

Nov 2022 | A first-authored CHI 2023 paper got Revise & Resubmit (the best result for round 1) and progressed to the final round!

Aug 2022 | Submitted a paper to the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design (JMD).

Jul 2022 | Thrilled to be featured in Dataminr intern spotlight (the only research intern of 2022 cohort) and introduce my research to the whole company!

May 2022 | Started my research internship with AI team at Dataminr Inc. (#5 on the Forbes AI 50 List).

May 2022 | Two talks & posters entitled “Computational Analogy: Supporting Creative Problem Reformulation with AI-generated Analogies” and “Exploring Presentation Interaction Effects on Mechanism of Inspiration from Diverse Examples” at UMD HCIL Annual Symposium, College Park, MD.

May 2022 | The backchannel list of our CHI 2022 paper TalkTive was included as common backchannels in “Back Channel Facts”.

May 2022 | Attended CHI 2022 to present our work entitled “TalkTive: A Conversational Agent Using Backchannels to Engage Older Adults in Neurocognitive Disorders Screening” at CHI 2022, New Orleans, LA.

Apr 2022 | Glad to receive UMD Dr. Dana Rotman Doctoral Student Travel Award ($1,550) to attend CHI 2022 and present our work.

Dec 2021 | Thrilled to be featured in UMD iSchool iStar spotlight!

Nov 2021 | Our paper got accepted at CHI 2022. Thank you all my amazing mentors and collaborators!

Oct 2021 | Attended UIST 2021 & CSCW 2021 to present our work.

Sep 2021 | Started my PhD study at UMD iSchool & HCIL and awarded Dean’s Fellowship.

Jul 2021 | Our demo paper got accepted at UIST 2021.

Jun 2021 | Attended C&C 2021 to present our work.

May 2021 | Attended CHI 2021 to present our work.

Apr 2021 | Our paper got accepted at C&C 2021.

Mar 2021 | Attended CHIIR 2021 to present our work.

Dec 2020 | Three papers got accepted at CHI 2021, CSCW 2021 and CHIIR 2021.


Please check my Google Scholar for the updated list.

Full Conference Papers:

  1. Z. Ding, J. Kang, T.O.T. Ho, K.H. Wong, H.H. Fung, H. Meng, X. Ma. TalkTive: A Conversational Agent Using Backchannels to Engage Older Adults in Neurocognitive Disorders Screening. In Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’22), New Orleans, USA, 2022. [presentation] [pdf]
  2. S. Palani, Z. Ding, A. Nguyen, A. Chuang, S. MacNeil, S. P. Dow. CoNotate: Suggesting Queries Based on Notes Promotes Knowledge Discovery. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’21), Online, 2021. [pdf]
  3. S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, A. Boone, A. B. Grubbs, S. P. Dow. Finding Place in a Design Space: Challenges for Supporting Community Design Efforts at Scale. In Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW’21), Online, 2021. [pdf]
  4. S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, K. Quan, T. J. Parashos, Y. Sun, S. P. Dow. Framing Creative Work: Helping Novices Frame Better Problems through Interactive Scaffolding. In Proceedings of the 2021&2022 Conferences on Creativity and Cognition (C&C’21&22), Online, 2021. [pdf]
  5. R. Chang, Q. Wang, Z. Ding. Revolutionizing Urban Energy Planning: A Roadmap Towards City-level Energy Modeling in Australia. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Construction Project Management and Construction Engineering (iCCPMCE’18), Sydney, Australia. (Best Paper)
  6. Q. Wang, S. Zhang, D. Wei, Z. Ding. Additive Manufacturing (AM): A Revolutionized Power for Construction Industrialization. In Proceedings of the 2018 International Conference on Construction and Real Estate Management (ICCREM’18), Charleston, USA. (Best Paper) [pdf]

Short Conference Papers:

  1. S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, K. Quan, Z. Huang, K. Chen, S. P. Dow. ProbMap: Automatically Construct- ing Design Galleries through Feature Extraction and Semantic Clustering. In Adjunct Proceedings of the 2021 Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST’21 Demo), Online, 2021. [pdf]
  2. S. Palani, Z. Ding, S. MacNeil, S. P. Dow. The “Active Search” Hypothesis: How Search Strategies Relate to Creative Learning. In Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR’21 Poster), Online, 2021. [pdf]


  1. S. Chang, Q. Wang, H. Hu, Z. Ding, H. Guo. An NNwC MPPT-Based Energy Supply Solution for Sensor Nodes in Buildings. Energies, 12(1), 1-20. [pdf]
  2. R. Chang, Q. Wang, Z. Ding. How is the Energy Performance of Buildings Assessed in Australia? A Comparison between four Evaluation Systems. International Journal of Structural and Civil Engineering Research, 8(2), 133-137. [pdf]

About My University Experience

Below is an interview of me, named “How to make the most use of your university experience“. It was published in Jan 2019 and until Jun 2019 it has 43,500+ views on YouTube. Honestly, every one has regrets and so do I – I never thought I did make the most use of my undergraduate experience. Luckily, I am still in a university now and have the chance to fulfill myself.