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, 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

Family vacation
Des Moines, IA

2019

Oct

NSF Panelist
Alexandria, VA

Aug 7-16

Family vacation
Anchorage, AK

Jul 16-18

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

Family vacation
Barcelona, Spain

Nov 3-5

CSCW 2018
Jersey City, NJ

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

Family vacation
Denver, CO

Aug 3-7

Family vacation
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Jun 27-30

C&C 2017
Singapore

May 6-11

CHI 2017
Denver, CO

May 5

Feb 25-28

CSCW 2017
Portland, OR

2016

Dec 8-12

CHI PC meeting
Denver, CO

Oct 27-28

Design Lab retreat
San Diego, CA

Oct 8-10

Friends’ wedding
Atlanta, GA

Oct 7-8

CMU meetings
Pittsburgh, PA

Jul 13-15

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 12-25

Family vacation
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

Family vacation
Rome, Florence and Venice Italy

Jun 19-25

C&C 2015
Glasgow, Scotland

Jun 11-12

HCOMP PC meeting
Evanston, IL

May 28-29

NSF Panel
Washington, DC

May 23-26

Family vacation
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

Nov 14-16

HCII 20-year event
Pittsburgh, PA

Nov 3-5

HCOMP 2014
Pittsburgh, PA

Aug 30-31

Family vacation
Toronto, ON

Aug 16-18

CSCW PC Meeting
Evanston, IL

Aug 1-5

Family vacation
South Haven, MI

Jun 23-25

DIS 2014
Vancouver, BC

Jun 20-22

Vacation
Denver, CO

Jun 18-20

HCOMP Visioning
Washington, DC

Jun 13-15

HCOMP PC Meeting
Boston, MA

May 24-26

Vacation
New York, NY

May 2-8

Apr 26-30

CHI 2014
Toronto, ON

Feb 15-19

CSCW 2014
Baltimore, MA

Jan 4-8

Family vacation
Tulum, Mexico

2013

Dec 7-8

CHI PC meeting
Toronto, ON

Nov 7-10

HCOMP 2013
Palm Springs, CA

Sep 21-23

Vacation
Chicago, IL

Aug 19-20

CSCW PC meeting
Philadelphia, PA

Aug 3-6

Vacation
Montreal, QC

Jul 5-19

Vacation
China

Jun 26-27

NSF Workshop on Human Computation
Washington, DC

Jun 22-25

Vacation
Chicago, IL

Jun 8-9

Friends Wedding
Leonard Lake, CA

Jun

NSF Panel
Washington, DC

May 10-15

Vacation
Chicago, IL

Apr 26 – May 4

CHI 2013
Paris, France

Mar 13-17

Vacation
Chicago, IL

Mar 9-13

Vacation
Denver, CO

Mar 5-6

DARPA
Washington, DC

Feb 23-27

CSCW 2013
San Antonio, TX

2012

Dec 14-26

Family vacation
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Dec 5-10

CHI PC meeting
Paris, France

Nov 6-7

Quirky.com
New York City, NY

Oct 6-7

Personal travel
Chicago, IL

Sep 1-3

Personal travel
New Orleans, LA

Jul 15-18

MSR Faculty Summit
Redmond, WA

Jul 1-8

Personal travel
Silverthorne, CO

Jun 14-16

Personal travel
Cedar Falls, IA

Mar 10-16

Personal travel
Florida

May 5-10

CHI 2012
Austin, TX

Feb 11

CSCW 2012
Seattle, WA

Feb

NSF Panel
Arlington, VA

2011

Dec 8-10

CHI PC meeting
Boston, MA

Oct 14-17

Sister’s Wedding
Des Moines, IA

Oct 7

Invited talk at CMU Robotics Talk
Pittsburgh, PA

Sep 25-26

Jul 17-30

US road trip
CA to PA

Jul 11-16

Yoga training
Sonoma, CA

Jun 26 – Jul 10

Vacation
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

Vacation
Dillon, CO

Jan 19

2010

Dec 24-26

Vacation
Lake Tahoe, CA

Dec 8-12

CHI PC meeting
College Park, MD

Nov 9

Invited speaker at Stanford’s Postdoc Symposium
Palo Alto, CA

Oct 22

IBM’s NPC
San Jose, CA

Oct 4

CrowdConf 2010
San Francisco, CA

Jul 20

Stanford MediaX
Palo Alto, CA

Jul 9

Jun 17-20

Family reunion
Des Moines, IA

May 28 – Jun 5

May 27

Apr 19-22

Apr 11-16

CHI 2010
Atlanta, GA

Mar 21-24

Mar 3-5

Feb 24-28

HCIC
Fraser, CO

Jan 7-11

Holiday
Silverthorne, CO