About Me

How do we make meaning with data? Not only analytically, but also with our feelings, bodies, materials, and social relationships?

My design research fosters meaning-making with biosensory data, data about people's bodies, thoughts, and behaviors. What can (and can’t) this data say about how we feel? How might this data shape the way we feel, and shape how we relate to ourselves and others? I explore these questions by building sensing technologies that produce data (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance) and deploying these in real social situations. The highly varied and often surprising social and emotional experiences of people with these designs offer provocative yet experientially grounded speculative directions for designing with data.

As a PhD candidate at the Berkeley School of Information, I am advised by Kimiko Ryokai. My dissertation committee additionally includes John Chuang, Greg Niemeyer, and Gail De Kosnik. I am also a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously I have worked as a human centered designer and engineer in Singapore, Morocco, and China, as well as at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, and Microsoft.


[firstname].[lastname]@gmail.com,   CV,   github,   Google Scholar


Sarah Fox, Noura Howell, Richmond Wong, Franchesca Spektor. 2019. Vivewell: Speculating Near-Future Menstrual Tracking through Current Data Practices. Designing Interactive Systems Pictorials (DIS'19). pdf

Noura Howell, Greg Niemeyer, Kimiko Ryokai. 2019. Life-Affirming Biosensing in Public: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench. Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'19). pdf url

Noura Howell, John Chuang, Abigail De Kosnik, Greg Niemeyer, Kimiko Ryokai. 2018. Emotional Biosensing: Exploring Critical Alternatives. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW'18). pdf url

Noura Howell, Laura Devendorf, Tomás Vega Gálvez, Rundong (Kevin) Tian, Kimiko Ryokai. 2018. Tensions of data-driven reflection: A case study of real-time emotional biosensing. Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'18). pdf url

Kimiko Ryokai, Elena Duran, Noura Howell, Jonathan Gillick, David Bamman. 2018. Capturing, Representing, and Interacting with Laughter. Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'18). url

Kimiko Ryokai, Elena Duran, Dina Bseiso, Noura Howell,Ji Won Jun. 2017. Celebrating Laughter: Capturing and Sharing Tangible Representations of Laughter. Extended Abstracts of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'17). url

Noura Howell, Laura Devendorf, Rundong (Kevin) Tian, Tomás Vega Gálvez, Nan-Wei Gong, Ivan Poupyrev, Eric Paulos, Kimiko Ryokai. 2016. Biosignals as social cues: Ambiguity and emotional interpretation in social displays of skin conductance. Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'16). pdf url

Laura Devendorf, Joanne Lo, Noura Howell, Jung Lin Lee, Nan-Wei Gong, M. Emre Karagozler, Shiho Fukuhara, Ivan Poupyrev, Eric Paulos, Kimiko Ryokai. 2016. "I don't want to wear a screen": Probing perceptions of and possibilities for dynamic displays on clothing. Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'16) - Best Paper Award. pdf url

Nick Merrill, Richmond Wong, Noura Howell, Luke Stark, Lucian Leahu, Dawn Nafus. 2017. Interrogating Biosensing in Everyday Life. Designing Interactive Systems Companion (DIS Companion'17) . pdf url

Noura Howell. 2017. Personal Reflection as Creative Practice in Collaboration with Biosensing Machines. Workshop paper at CHI'17. workshop. pdf url

Noura Howell. 2016. Representation and interpretation of biosensing. Designing Interactive Systems Companion (DIS Companion'16). pdf url

Noura Howell. 2015. Connecting two Oakland neighborhoods: surveillance and self-representation. Workshop paper at Critical Alternatives 2015. workshop. pdf url

Sarah Spence Adams, Noura Howell, Nathaniel Karst, Denise Sakai Troxell, Junjie Zhu. 2013. On the L(2,1)-labelings of amalgamations of graphs. Discrete Applied Mathematics, 161(7-8): 881-8. url

Jian Shi, Ratna R. Sharma-Shivappa, Mari Chinn, Noura Howell. 2009. Effect of microbial pretreatment on enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation of cotton stalks for ethanol production. Biomass and Bioenergy, 33(1): 88-96. url

At a vacuum form molding workshop.


Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, 2019, for the project Speculating Smart City Cybersecurity with the Heart Sounds Bench. List of all grantees.

Center for Technology, Society, and Policy, 2019, for the project Engaging Expert Stakeholders about the Future of Menstrual Biosensing in collaboration with Richmond Wong, Sarah Fox, and Franchesca Spektor.

CITRIS Tech for Social Good, 2019, for the project Re-centering the Body in Technological Utopias, in collaboration with Franchesca Spektor. List of all grantees.

Berkeley Center for New Media Undergraduate Research Assistant Fellowship, 2019. To work with Stephanie Tang.

Jacobs Innovation Center Ignite Grant, 2018 (listing).

Arts Research Center, 2018 (listing) in collaboration with Greg Niemeyer.

Center for Technology, Society, and Policy, 2018, for the project Menstrual Biosensing Survival Guide in collaboration with Richmond Wong and Sarah Fox.

Berkeley Center for New Media Undergraduate Research Assistant Fellowship, 2018. To work with Wenny Miao.

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, 2016-2017, University of California, Berkeley.

Cota Robles Fellowship, 2014, University of California, Berkeley. "Awarded to exceptional applications who also advance the Regents' goals for diversification of the academy."


Creative Programming & Electronics, teaching assistant, spring 2018, with professor J.D. Zamfirescu. This class teaches introductory programming with p5js and Arduino. My duties included providing critique and mentorship on student projects, hands-on Arduino instruction, and preparing some course materials. course website, departmental listing.

Tangible User Interfaces, teaching assistant, fall 2016 & fall 2017, with professor Kimiko Ryokai. This class teaches theory and practice of tangible interaction design. My duties included providing critique and mentorship on student projects and hands-on Arduino, electronics, and soldering instruction. course website, departmental listing.

Deconstructing Data Science, spring 2016, with professor David Bamman. This class surveys quantitative machine learning methods in conjunction with critical analysis of the assumptions and bias these algorithms can reinforce. My duties included Python tutoring and project advising. course website, departmental listing.

Gray Area Foundation's Creative Code Immersive, fall 2014, with instructor Matt Ganucheau. This class surveys Arduino, Processing, electronics, and JavaScript for artists. My duties included hands-on instruction in programming and electronics. Gray Area listing, github.

Talks & Guest Lectures

Emotional Biosensing: Possibilities, Problematics, & Critical Alternatives, fall 2017, for the I School PhD Research Reception, video.

A Case Study of Emotional Biosensing: Tensions of Data-Driven Reflection, fall 2017, for the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Emotional Biosensing, fall 2017, for the course Mind-Reading and Telepathy for Beginners and Intermediates taught by Nick Merrill and John Chuang. slides.

Information vs. Interaction: A Case Study of Affective Computing, spring 2016, for the course Deconstructing Data Science taught by David Bamman. slides.

Rethinking Data with Emotion & Materiality, fall 2016, for the course Sensors, Humans, Data, Apps taught by John Chuang. slides.

Rethinking Data with Emotion and Materiality, fall 2016, for the course Tangible User Interfaces taught by Kimiko Ryokai. slides.


Quick intro to human centered design and engineering, fall 2017, for the course Technology and Delegation taught by Deirdre Mulligan.

Day long facilitation of design thinking workshop for tech industry executives in Sri Lanka, summer 2017, event description and photos.