About Dr. V

Portrait of Dr. VI am a Senior Research Program Manager at Microsoft Research and, until recently, was a tenured associate professor in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University, where I launched a new undergraduate program in UX Design and led the MS program. I am an accomplished UX/HCI researcher with demonstrated success in both academia and industry. I have authored or co-authored more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conferences. See my publications on Microsoft Academic or Google Scholar.

Here’s my story.

My graduate education is from Purdue University, in the area of Communication – specifically, Public Relations. I did interdisciplinary work for my PhD dissertation that combined user experience (in the days before UX was “hot”) with public relations theory.

I worked as a faculty member in Communication departments at the University of Dayton and Clemson University before embarking on what seemed at the time as a major career change and taking an assistant professor position in Computer Graphics at my alma mater, Purdue.

While at Purdue, I taught UX Design (undergraduate and graduate level, Qualitative Research Methods (PhD level), and a doctoral level seminar in social media research. I lead the M.S. program in Computer Graphics Technology and achieved top 5 national rankings for the UX area. This is remarkable because Purdue was not even on the map in the area of UX Design, and it entered rankings in the great company of schools such as Stanford, UC Irvine, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT.

I started a brand new undergraduate research program in UX Design and was fortunate to hire and mentor a team of talented assistant professors to bring the program to life. Read about our innovative curriculum in this short CHI paper.


I was the lead UX researcher & designer on DIA2, an online platform for knowledge mining and visualization of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding portfolio, sponsored by a competitive $3 million award from the NSF. This research article provides an overview of the project. Learn more about my research.

I advised and graduated more than 30 M.S. students between 2009-2017. See some M.S. theses. My former students are happily employed at companies such as Microsoft, Phillips, Advisory Board Company, Purdue University, Salesforce, and more. I measure my success in theirs. Mentoring them has been one of the best parts of my life.

Earning tenure at Purdue brought on a midlife crisis. The idea that this might be it, this is what I’d be doing for the rest of my life, scared me and made me feel trapped – although I loved my job. So, when, one day, I received an email inviting me to interview for a program manager position with Microsoft Research, I was ready for an adventure. The leadership of my college at Purdue enabled me to explore life outside academia safely by granting me an extended leave of absence.

At Microsoft Research, I led the UX redesign for Microsoft Academic, and am currently working on an incubation team where I focus on generative user research and product vision. I am also one of the lead authors on the Guidelines for Human-AI Interaction.


Mihaela is a research program manager at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, where she applies her UX and scholarly research skills to incubate research into potential products. Mihaela joined Microsoft Research in July 2017, while also holding an associate professor position in Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University. While at Purdue, she developed a new undergraduate program in UX Design, lead the M.S. program in Computer Graphics, graduated more than 30 M.S. students, and maintained an active research agenda on projects supported by the National Science Foundation. Mihaela earned her PhD in Communication (Public Relations) from Purdue University in 2004. Before joining Purdue University as a faculty member in 2009, she was an assistant professor at Clemson University and the University of Dayton.

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This is my personal site. The opinions expressed on this site and blog are my own, and do not represent any of my employers. – Dr. V

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