Steven Dow is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, Director of the ProtoLab research group, Co-Founder of the Design for San Diego initiative, and a member of the Design Lab. Steven conducts research on human-computer interaction, social computing, and creativity and seeks to improve communities’ ability to creatively solve their own challenges. Steven received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 for research on “advancing collective innovation.” He was co-PI on five other NSF grants, a Google Faculty Grant, a Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research Award, Stanford’s Postdoctoral Research Award, and a Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant. Steven was on the faculty in the HCI Institute at CMU from 2011-2015. He holds an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.

Contact

spdow@ucsd.edu
office hours: by appt
lab: SSRB room 100
office: CSB room 131
9500 Giman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0515

Past and Present Affiliations

FAQ

Can undergrads and master’s students get involved in the Protolab research group?
If you are interested in our lab’s research, I would advise you to check out the ProtoLab website and read a few of our papers. If you are an undergraduate or master’s student who wants to get involved, please check this page periodically for job and volunteer opportunities. We usually bring on new students for the start of the school year and for summer internships.

Are you looking for graduate students? If so, what are you looking for in candidates?
Yes, I am always on the lookout for strong graduate students to join the PhD programs at UC San Diego. I am generally looking for students who have some mix of design, computer science, and human sciences. Our lab often designs and develops prototypes of interactive systems that allow us to experiment on some aspect of the human experience. Prospective PhD students should apply either to the Cognitive Science PhD program or the Computer Science and Engineering program, and if you would like to potentially work with me, make sure to mention my name in your application.

Can I get your advice on my applications to graduate school?
No, I advise you to just apply. I get tons of email these days, and my response to the question is always that you should go ahead and apply to the best of your abilities. Apply to extra schools so that you hopefully have several options available. If you are a top candidate, we will get a chance to talk before you are admitted or before you accept the offer to join the program.

How can I become an IA for one of your classes?  
Thank you for your interest in assisting my classes on social computing, prototyping, startup studio, and civic design. Becoming an undergraduate IA (instructional assistant) is a great way to get mentoring experience and to reinforce the course material. To become an IA, first take my course and do a good job; students earning an A or A- will get first priority. Take the course early enough so that you can serve as an IA in your senior or junior year. If you’re ready, apply to be an IA here and send me a quick email to let me know you’re keen.

How can I earn your letter of recommendation when I apply for jobs or graduate school? 
I am more than happy to write a letter of recommendation for students who do a good job on either a research project in the lab or as a teaching/instructional assistant. Unfortunately I do not have capacity or enough history to write letters for students who only take my classes (even if you do earn an A). I need to work with you so that I have material to write about. When you are ready to ask me for a letter, be sure to give me a few weeks advance notice and to create a list of your activities and accomplishments. Once I agree to write your letter, please fill out this release form and email it to cogslor@ucsd.edu. When you apply for jobs/schools, make sure to list my UCSD email address so that I receive the letter requests. 

Talks and Travel Log

Academic life has provided wonderful opportunities travel, give talks, and see the world. I often try to extend my trips to conferences so that I have time to experience the local culture and food. This record of travel will help me remember all the places. 

2021

July 1-8

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

2020

Nov 28-30

Personal travel
Big Bear Lake, CA

Feb 21-23

Personal travel
Los Angeles, CA

2019

Oct

NSF Panelist
Alexandria, VA

Aug 7-16

Personal travel
Anchorage, AK

Jul 16-18

Jun 30 – Jul 5

Personal travel
Chicago, IL; South Haven, MI; Hudson, IA

Jun 23-28

Jun 23-26

Co-chair of C&C 2019
San Diego, CA

Mar 26

Amy Cook thesis defense
Pittsburgh, PA

2018

Nov 7-16

Personal travel
Seville and Barcelona, Spain

Nov 3-5

CSCW 2018
Jersey City, NJ

Aug 30 – Sep 3

Personal travel
Big Sur and Yosemite, CA

Apr 30

2017

Oct 25-27

Design Forward
San Diego, CA

Oct 24-26

Co-Chair for HCOMP 2017
Quebec City, QC

Sep 1-4

Personal travel
Denver, CO

Aug 3-7

Personal travel
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Jun 27-30

C&C 2017
Singapore

Jun 16-18

Personal travel
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Jun 12-13

HCOMP PC meeting
Brooklyn, NY

May 6-11

CHI 2017
Denver, CO

May 5

Feb 25-28

CSCW 2017
Portland, OR

Jan 2

Personal travel
Tijuana, Mexico

2016

Dec 8-12

CHI PC meeting
Denver, CO

Oct 27-28

Design Lab retreat
San Diego, CA

Oct 8-10

Personal travel
Atlanta, GA

Oct 7-8

CMU meetings
Pittsburgh, PA

Aug 22-24

Personal travel
Catalina Island, CA

Jul 13-17

Microsoft Summit
Redmond, WA

May 25

Speaker for Intro to CogSci class
San Diego, CA

May 7-12

CHI 2016
San Jose, CA

Mar 8

Speaker for Intro to CogSci class
San Diego, CA

Feb 27 – Mar 2

CSCW 2016
San Francisco

2015

Dec 25-31

Cross-country trip to start position at UC San Diego
Pittsburgh, PA; Des Moines, IA; Denver, CO; Phoenix, AZ; San Diego, CA

Dec 12-25

Personal travel
Shanghai, Nanjing, Xian; China

Dec 11-12

CHI PC meeting
San Jose, CA

Nov 7-11

HCOMP 2015
San Diego, CA

Oct 1-3

Design Lab retreat
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Sep 4-6

Urbandale High School reunion
Des Moines, IA

Jul 24-25

InGroup 2015
Pittsburgh, PA

Jul 17-19

Visiting UCSD Cog Sci
San Diego, CA

Jun 25 – Jul 9

Personal travel
Rome, Florence and Venice Italy

Jun 19-25

C&C 2015
Glasgow, Scotland

Jun 11-12

HCOMP PC meeting
Evanston, IL

May

NSF Panel
Washington, DC

May 23-26

Personal travel
Denver, CO

May 3-5

HCOMP Institute
Washington, DC

Mar 12-18

CSCW 2015
Vancouver, BC

Mar 10-11

Feb 9-10

Jan 21

2014

Dec 14-18

Personal travel
Ft Lauderdale, FL

Dec 5-7

Personal travel
Philadelphia, PA

Nov 14-16

HCII 20-year event
Pittsburgh, PA

Nov 3-5

HCOMP 2014
Pittsburgh, PA

Aug 29-31

Personal travel
Toronto, ON

Aug 16-18

CSCW PC Meeting
Evanston, IL

Aug 6-15

Honeymoon
Maui, Hawaii

Aug 1-5

Our wedding
South Haven, MI

Jun 23-25

DIS 2014
Vancouver, BC

Jun 20-22

Personal travel
Denver, CO

Jun 18-20

HCOMP Visioning
Washington, DC

Jun 13-15

HCOMP PC Meeting
Boston, MA

May 24-26

Personal travel
New York, NY

May 2-8

Apr 26-30

CHI 2014
Toronto, ON

Apr 19-20

Personal travel
South Haven, MI

Mar 29-31

Personal travel
Andrews, NC

Feb 15-19

CSCW 2014
Baltimore, MA

Jan 4-8

Personal travel
Tulum, Mexico

2013

Dec 6-9

CHI PC meeting
Toronto, ON

Nov 27-30

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

Nov 7-10

HCOMP 2013
Palm Springs, CA

Sep 21-23

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Aug 19-20

CSCW PC meeting
Philadelphia, PA

Aug 3-6

Personal travel
Montreal, QC

Jul 5-19

Personal travel
Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing; China

Jun 26-27

NSF Workshop on Human Computation
Washington, DC

Jun 22-25

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Jun 8-9

Personal travel
Leonard Lake, CA

Jun

NSF Panel
Washington, DC

May 27-30

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

May 24-27

Personal travel
New York, NY

May 10-15

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Apr 26 – May 4

CHI 2013
Paris, France

Mar 13-17

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Mar 9-13

Personal travel
Denver, CO

Mar 5-6

DARPA
Washington, DC

Feb 23-27

CSCW 2013
San Antonio, TX

2012

Dec 14-26

Personal travel
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Dec 5-10

CHI PC meeting
Paris, France

Nov 14-15

Quirky.com headquarters
New York City, NY

Oct 6-7

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Aug 31 – Sep 3

Personal travel
New Orleans, LA

Aug 17-19

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Jul 15-18

MSR Faculty Summit
Redmond, WA

Jul 1-8

Personal travel
Silverthorne, CO

Jun 14-16

Personal travel
Cedar Falls, IA

May 5-10

CHI 2012
Austin, TX

Mar 10-16

Personal travel
Florida

Feb 11

CSCW 2012
Seattle, WA

Feb

NSF Panel
Arlington, VA

2011

Dec 8-10

CHI PC meeting
Boston, MA

Nov 22-27

Personal travel
Cincinnati, OH

Oct 14-17

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

Oct 7

Invited talk at CMU Robotics Talk
Pittsburgh, PA

Sep 25-26

Jul 17-30

Cross-country trip to start position at Carnegie Mellon
Palo Alto, CA; Des Moines, IA; Pittsburgh, PA

Jul 11-16

Personal travel
Sonoma, CA

Jun 26 – Jul 10

Personal travel
Greece

Jun 22-25

DPPI
Milan, Italy

Jun 11-14

HCIC
Pacific Grove, CA

Jun 11-14

CMU’s HCI Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

May 7-12

CHI 2011
Vancouver, BC

Apr 26

Apr 13

Apr 5

CMU’s HCI Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

Mar 30

Mar 24-25

Feb 13-15

Feb 9-11

iConference
Seattle, WA

Jan 28-31

Personal travel
Dillon, CO

Jan 19

2010

Dec 24-26

Personal travel
Lake Tahoe, CA

Dec 8-12

CHI PC meeting
College Park, MD

Oct 22

IBM’s NPC
San Jose, CA

Oct 4

Demo at CrowdConf 2010
San Francisco, CA

Jul 20

Stanford MediaX
Palo Alto, CA

Jul 9

Jun 17-20

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

May 28 – Jun 5

May 27

Apr 19-22

Apr 11-16

CHI 2010
Atlanta, GA

Apr 8

Mar 21-24

Mar 3-5

Feb 24-28

HCIC
Fraser, CO

Jan 7-11

Personal travel
Silverthorne, CO

2009

Dec 17-26

Personal travel
Atlanta, GA

Nov 24-27

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

Nov 19

Oct 16-19

Concordia Hackfest
Montreal, CAN

Jul 9-20

Personal travel
Cambridge, UK

Jul 15

Invited talk at Microsoft Research
Cambridge, UK

Apr 24-27

Personal travel
Houston, TX

Apr 4-9

CHI 2009
Boston, MA

Mar 27-29

Personal travel
Vegas, NV

Feb 13-16

Personal travel
Atlanta, GA

Jan 22

Invited talk at Nokia Research
Palo Alto, CA

2008

Nov 4-6

Personal travel
Atlanta, GA

Oct 19-22

UIST 2008
Monterey, CA

Sept 23 – Oct 5

Cross-country trip to start postdoc at Stanford
Atlanta, GA; Cincinnati, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; South Haven, MI; Des Moines, IA;, Denver, CO; Zion National Park, UT; Vegas, NV; Palo Alto, CA

Sept 25-27

Talk at ICEC 2008
Pittsburgh, PA

April 5-10

2006

Dec 15 – Jan 10, 2007

Personal travel
Cape Town, South Africa

Dec 3 – Dec 15

Personal travel
Zurich, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Karlskrona, Sweden

Oct 19-23

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

Apr 22-27

Attended CHI 2006
Montreal, QC, Canada

2005

July 10-19

Personal travel
Olympic National Park, WA; Victoria and Vancouver, BC, Canada

Jun 19-22

Personal travel
Barcelona, Spain

Jun – Aug

Apr 2-7

Talk at CHI 2005
Portland, OR

2004

Dec 24-30

Personal travel
Des Moines, IA

Sept 10-16

Personal travel
Galway and Dublin, Ireland

Sept 7-10

Demo at UbiComp 2004
Nottingham, UK

Aug 13-15

Personal travel
Coventry, Vermont

June 5-9

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

2003

Oct 30 – Nov 4

Demo at UIST 2003
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Oct 21-23

Demo at ISWC 2003
White Plains, NY

April 3-10

Attended CHI 2003
Fort Lauderdale, FL

2002

June-July

Personal travel
Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA; New Orleans, LA; Truth or Consequences, MN; Flagstaff, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Arcata, CA; Portland, OR; Boise, ID; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA; Chicago, IL

2001

Jul 16-19

Personal travel
Red Rocks Amphitheater, CO

May 1-June 5

Backpacking in Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Nairobi, Kenya; Zanzibar, Tanzania

Mar 23-May 1

Backpacking in Europe
London, UK; Berlin, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; Venice and Rome, Italy; Montpellier, France; San Sebastian and Barcelona, Spain; Interlaken, Switzerland; Paris, France; Amsterdam, Netherlands

1999

October 9-12

Phantom User Group workshop
Endicott House, Dedham MA

1996

June – Aug

1995