I'm Shaomei. I study and build technologies that empower people from marginalized communities and dismantle barriers for all. My current work takes place at the intersetion of AI, HCI, Accessibility, and Social Computing, and orient itself to the needs of those who have been historically marginalized or underserved. In particular, I explore the following two connected domains:

  1. Understand marginalized populations and their experiences online and offline.

    Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methodology, I study the challenges and capacities of marginalized communities, and identify opportunities for technology to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

    • Challenges - Where are the gaps in technological experiences for marginalized users and how are these gaps linked to offline experiences and outcomes?

    • Capacities - How do marginalized and underserved users leverage and reappropriate mainstream technology to build communities, foster collective consciousness, and coordinate resistance to existing power structures?

    • Opportunities - What are the opportunities for current and future technology to close the equity gaps online and offline?

  2. Design human-centric technology to deliver tangible benefits to marginalized populations.

    Informed by the knowledge from the previous domain, I also do lots of hand-on design & development work in building innovative technologies that empower people to overcome barriers and pursue their goals. My tech work falls into the following two areas:

    • Make existing technologies inclusive for all, pushing the envelope of accessibility beyond checklists and government requirements.

    • Envision and invent new technologies centered on the empowerments of marginalized populations, leveling the playing field and lifting up those who were historically left behind.

Bio: I had been a staff research scientist at Facebook from 2013 to 2021, leading and driving various "tech for good" initiatives from Accessibility, AI for Inclusion, to Equity. I spent most of my time at Facebook researching and building AI-powered product experiences with users from marginalized and under-resourced communities, such as people with disabilities, people with literacy challenges, and people experiencing racial injustice. One example of such experiences is automatic alt-text, a feature I designed and shipped on Facebook that leverages computer vision to describes images to people with visual impairments. I also worked with people with dyslexia to build AI-powered writing tools to support them to write more confidently on social media. My most recent work centers on the experiences of vulnerable populations online, such as, people with limited literacy skills and Black people in the US. My work uncovered and diagnosed disparities in their social media experiences and led to the design and development of new product features to address such disparities.

Prior to Facebook, I received my Ph.D in Information Science from Cornell University, where I worked with Michael Macy, Jon Kleinberg, and Dan Cosley on characterizing and modeling the spread of information and behaviors in large social networks. My research and working styles are also heavily influenced by Lada Adamic and Phoebe Sengers, both world-class computer scientists but with very different research interests and methodologies - I am grateful for their mentorship and teaching.

I publish my work at top HCI and Social Computing venues such as CHI, CSCW, TheWebConf (formerly known as WWW), and ICWSM. I am also very involved in promoting an inclusive and equitable research practices in these communities, through serving in the organization committees for CHI, TheWebConf, ICWSM, and Web4All, as well as frequently reviewing papers from these conferences and related journals.

To learn more about my research, you can also check out my CV, my list of selected publications, and my Google Scholar Page