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My research interests lie in the intersection of inclusive and accessible designs, health informatics, and the intricate needs of diverse users. My goals are to increase user engagement and dispel any confusion and pain points in the overall user experience. I am currently interested in the role of culture in online social interactions to facilitate problem solving and wellbeing. Trained in the rigor of academic research and design methodologies, I find creative yet evidence-based design solutions to challenging problems. I bring flexibility, technical expertise, and an ability to collaborate and communicate with multidisciplinary teams.


2019 - present

Graduate Research Assistant |
University of British Columbia

My thesis explores the accessibility of mental health technologies with emphasis on the intersection of stigma and non-Western cultures (C1, C2). Next steps involve implementing and evaluating multimodal interactions on social sharing platforms focusing on sharing introspective stories. My other roles include interacting and critiquing other students' research, and advising 3 undergrad students. I have also presented at the CHI 2023 Doctoral Consortium (C7).

2022 - present

Graduate Research Assistant |
University of British Columbia

UX research and design lead | School of Nursing

Designing technology-assisted aids for older adults to self-manage their cancer diagnoses and other co-morbidities

I led a team to iteratively develop a prototype (Sketch, Figma, Axure), evaluating with 20 older adults living with cancer, caregivers, clinicians. A paper detailing our work is currently in preprint at JMIR Aging (J1). Currently, I am working as a consultant during the iOS app development.

2019 - present

Graduate Teaching Assistant |
University of British Columbia

Advising and grading project teams that use Design Thinking in a graduate level HCI course (CPSC 544) and an undergraduate level HCI course (CPSC 444)

2016 - 2019

Research Assistant |
University of Washington

Collaborated in and co-authored several projects in family sleep tracking (C3, C4), sleep sensors (C5), and collaborative social planning (C6)


2019 - present

University of British Columbia |
Vancouver, BC


Computer Science (HCI)

Expected graduation late 2024

2015 - 2018

University of Washington |
Seattle, WA

Master of Science

Human Centered Design & Engineering

2012 - 2014

University of Washington | 
Seattle, WA

Bachelor of Science

Computer Engineering

Skills and Experience

​I have experience in applying UX and HCI research and design fundamentals, including:

  • Usability testing, survey design, interviews, contextual inquiries, participatory design, diary studies, thematic analysis, journey mapping, persona development, literature review, focus groups, technical writing, experimental design and analysis

  • Interaction design (IA), wireframing, Prototyping, Information Visualization, storyboarding 

  • Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch, Axure

  • Web Programming (HTML,CSS,JS), Java/Android, Systems Programming, Python, Version Control(Git)


​I have several papers in top HCI conferences and other venues:



















Sang-Wha Sien, Shalini Mohan, and Joanna McGrenere. 2022. Exploring Design Opportunities for Supporting Mental Wellbeing Among East Asian University Students in Canada. CHI '22.

Sang-Wha Sien, Jessica Ahn, and Joanna McGrenere. 2023. Co-designing Mental Health Technologies with International University Students in Canada. Under submission at CSCW '23.

Laura R. Pina, Sang-Wha Sien, Teresa Ward, Jason C. Yip, Sean A. Munson, James Fogarty, and Julie A. Kientz. 2017. From Personal Informatics to Family Informatics: Understanding Family Practices around Health Monitoring. CSCW '17.

Laura Pina, Sang-Wha Sien, Clarissa Song, Teresa M. Ward, James Fogarty, Sean A. Munson, and Julie A. Kientz. 2020. DreamCatcher: Exploring How Parents and School-Age Children can Track and Review Sleep Information Together. CSCW '20.

Ruth Ravichandran, Sang-Wha Sien, Shwetak N. Patel, Julie A. Kientz, and Laura R. Pina. 2017. Making Sense of Sleep Sensors: How Sleep Sensing Technologies Support and Undermine Sleep Health. CHI '17.

Sungsoo (Ray) Hong, Minhyang (Mia) Suh, Tae Soo Kim, Irina Smoke, Sangwha Sien, Janet Ng, Mark Zachry, and Juho Kim. 2019. Design for Collaborative Information-Seeking: Understanding User Challenges and Deploying Collaborative Dynamic Queries. CSCW '19.

Sang-Wha Sien, Jessica Y. Ahn, and Joanna McGrenere. 2023. Co-designing Mental Health Technologies with International University Students in Canada. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 7, CSCW2, Article 258 (October 2023), 25 pages.

Sien SW, Kobekyaa FK, Puts M, Currie L, Tompson M, Hedges P, McGrenere J, Mariano C, Haase K, A tailored self-management app to support older adults with cancer and multi-morbidities: Development and Usability Testing. JMIR Preprints.

Awards and Honors

  • HCDE Capstone Showcase 2018 "Best in Show" | University of Washington

  • Designing for People (DFP) Graduate Entrance Grant (GEG) Award 2019 | University of British Columbia

  • DFP CREATE Design Showcase 2021 “Best Poster” Award | University of British Columbia

  • DFP CREATE Design Showcase 2022 "Best Poster" Award | University of British Columbia

  • UBC Computer Science 2022 Best Teaching Assistant | University of British Columbia

Volunteering Work

  • CS Grad Wellbeing Representative (2019 - 2021)

  • DFP Committe Student Volunteer (2021 - present)

  • CHI 2022 Student Volunteer 

Mentoring Experience

Oct 2022-present

Apr 2022-present

Mar 2021-present

Jan-Sep 2021

Jan-Sep 2020

Ireena Baro (UBC undergrad in Computer Science)

Francis Kobekyaa (UBC PhD student in Nursing)

Jessica Ahn (UBC research assistant in Educational Psychology and Special Education)

Edward Lin (UBC undergrad in Cognitive Systems)

Shalini Mohan (UBC undergrad in Cognitive Systems)

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