Hi! I'm Alissa. I design user experience and build web UIs in data analytics / research collaboration / open science / healthcare data projects. Employed by Purdue University, I'm based in West Lafayette, Indiana. This site is both my portfolio, and a story about me as a professional web designer, coder and artist. Follow my narrative by using the navigation below or guides in the text.
I'll start the story from my most recent professional endeavour - UX design leadership role on REMEDI data analytics platform for medical professionals. I'm most excited about this project, and it gives a great illustration of my motivation, design process and skills.

REMEDI Project

Since Aug 2015 I've been leading the UX design of REMEDI by Purdue's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE). REMEDI is a data analytics platform for medical professionals, where clinicians from hospitals all around the US share data from medical devices like infusion pumps or ventilators, and use insight from REMEDI analytics to improve patient safety at their hospitals. Currently there are over 300 facilities across 24 US states using the site and providing data. The system is vendor-neutral and comes at no cost to participants. One participation rule - in order to see the data you must provide your data. Also, hospitals agree to share their data with medical researchers. It's a beautiful, public-good project, the winner of 2017 AAMI Foundation Health Care’s Clinical Solution Award and 2017 Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) Cheers Award.

Infusion Pump Compliance and Drug Limit Library apps. My work: design, interactive mock-ups, D3.js programming, ClojureScript UI.

REMEDI User Experience

Users of REMEDI are clinicians busy working with patients in their day-to-day life. When they visit the web platform, they want to get answers to their questions quickly and efficiently. Many times they may not have exact questions and the intelligent analytics apps would point out intesting things in data and highlight areas of concern. When designing UX, you think of problems users are trying to solve and their tasks at hand, you consider how to smoothly guide them to answers, and make best use of their precious time.
There are things we want from users in turn. We want them to regularly upload their data and be more active community members. You work these needs into the design and think how to engage users in helping you and make the experience seamless and rewarding.

Design Process: Initial Steps

Design process usually starts with user research and collecting requirements. Because REMEDI apps are unique and innovative, with users often not being able to tell what exactly they want from the new app, many times we need to start with available data. The data suggest which comparisons we can draw, which statistics we can show, which data points to highlight. This initial data review and team brainstorming gives ideas for first sketches, which I usually put together in good old tools like Photoshop or Pages. The static sketches are then shared with user focus groups and internally for early feedback and formalizing requirements.

Design Process: Mocking It Up

I am a (UX) architect who builds. When requirements look solid, I start building interactive mock-ups in HTML, CSS and JS w jQuery and D3.js library for charts, normally using a simple text editor like Brackets. For administrative UIs I have to use PHP pulling data from MySQL or Solr via APIs. Every new app and UI follows the style guide I established when the project started, and I try to reuse components and write the JS code to be easily extensible for new apps.
REMEDI apps UIs are built in ClojureScript + React.JS. Other developers (we are a power team of three :) usually pick-up my html mock-ups and hook them up to real data. Sometimes I get to write UIs in cljs. Yey for functional programming! :) Surely it takes a good number of rounds of user feedback+tweaking+testing+bug fixing before a feature is production-ready.

Interactive mock-up of the Alerts app. You wouldn't tell it from the actual app released in production, except that it's using fake data. The mock-up is 100% my work, start to finish.

The Challenge of UX Design

Back in 2015 I ran a session on UX Design Chalenge in Scientific Software at Mozilla Festival in London, UK. With about 25 folks from different backgrounds - designers, researchers, educators - we discussed what it takes to create intuitive, easy-to-use, responsive UIs and smooth user experience when building scientific apps with inherently complex underlying data and novel user workflows. I shared my experience on the open source Hubzero project, and highlighted the complexity of my task on the REMEDI project, where user questions are often unknown because we deal with new kind of data and are building pathways into uncharted territory. Personas, storyboards, metrics analysis all help, but to a certain extent. And you are left to sort it all out with "go design something" task from your manager.

Solving Design Puzzles

Let's say the big, complex, multivariate initial data are sorted and categorized. Let's say a list of possible user questions is derived from the data and surveying potential users. You have some pieces of the puzzle, you draw the missing pieces from your experience, use your judgement, rely on intuition, make assumptions. It's a kind of a puzzle that can take different final shapes, and each is worth exploring. You determine primary variables and major dependencies, you organize content around big categories: where, when, what, why and how, and consider simplest user pathways to answers. The design principles all come into play. You think of balance, proportions, compositional flow, space, consider responsiveness and scale. You know if you hit the mark as you watch users engage with your product.

Examples of my conceptual design and prototyping sketches as I am working on a new app.


The most rewarding aspect on my work on the REMEDI project is knowing that by helping clinicians learn from their data, we help them in their strive to improve patient safety in hospitals. The project also contributes to the nationwide effort to standardize drug names, concentrations, drug delivery practices and thereby helps advance healthcare safety. I like to think of my work in the context of these big ideas and efforts, even when tackling small tasks.

Take my work at Hubzero as another example, - when developing components of Hubzero framework I thought of how this ultimately aids our users, scientists and educators, advance and publicize their research. With every UI I design and every feature I code, I consider how to help my users be more effective in their tasks, how to make their experience non-tedious and how to make them smile. :)

Volunteering for Mozilla

My involvement with Mozilla as a volunteer started in 2015 when I was invited to run a Mozfest session on UX Design Challenge in Scientific Software. In 2016 I joined Open Leadership Training program run by @abbycabs - first as a mentee on REMEDI Research Access project, then as a mentor, helping others (Felipe Do E. Santo with Open Graduation Classes, Paul Villoutreix with Embryo Digital Atlas, and others) plan, organize, advance and promote their open web / science / code projects.

Before joining REMEDI I was a senior developer at Hubzero, an open source software platform for scientific collaboration. The data management and publishing system at the core of Hubzero - Hub Projects and Publications - is almost solely my baby and my major contribution to the platform. Many hubs, with total usage base over 500K, rely on the solution I created for managing and sharing research data. For Purdue University Research Repository (PURR), data management hub for Purdue faculty, this is the core functionality. Other big ticket additions to the platform on my part include: Wishlist feature allowing users to submit ideas for improvement and for others to rank the ideas and determine priorities; Contribtool - simulation tool contribution system letting tool developers manage their development projects; and many more.

When I joined Purdue and nanoHUB in 2006, I led the Generation Nano project, K-12 outreach effort of the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN), which was an interactive website teaching mid school children nanotechnology concepts through games and educational activities. Back then Flash was popular and I was an expert in Flash and ActionScript. The concept was an intriguing virtual world. When visiting the website, children would find themselves in the lobby of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University. They would explore the virtual hallways, cleanroom and labs, meet researchers, and engage in different tasks or "missions" in which they would help a researcher and learn about nanotechnology in the process. Looking back, this was probably the most enjoyable and fun project of all I ever worked on.

Prior to coming to Purdue, I lived in the big cities of Canada - Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, - doing print and web design for companies like Air Canada, Ensemble Travel and CE Network, as well as running my own freelance business.
As an artist and programmer, I am largely self-taught. Computer drawing and animation was my passion ever since I got my first computer. Back in Moscow, Russia, where I originally come from, I studied Linguistics. Immigration to Canada in 2000 offered an opportunity to make graphic design my profession, and I jumped on it, training myself by solving tasks at hand and catching up on theory at evening classes while keeping the day job in IT support and eventually winning the title of a graphic artist. Eventually, already at Purdue, I caught up on formal education and completed Master's Degree in Technology in a program for working professionals.

My Next Adventure?

I'm on the lookout for the next professional challenge and would love to be part of a high-impact or a cool experimental project with ambition to bring positive change, advance knowledge or help fellow humans in other ways. Open source? - Yey! Social change push? - Love it! Transformational technology improving human lives? - I'm in!

If you feel my skills, experience, artistic vision and enthusiasm would be of value to your team, please get in touch! I may well be the one you need.

Resume PDF

  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 2015 - present
    User Experience Architect
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 2010 - 2015
    Senior Web Programmer
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 2006-2010
    Web/Multimedia Management Specialist
  • Ensemble Travel Group, Vancouver, BC 2004-2006
    Web Developer
  • Air Canada, Montreal, QC 2003-2004
    Web Designer
  • CE Network Inc., Toronto, ON 2001-2003
    Graphic Artist; Freelance Web Designer
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 2009, M.S. in Technology
  • Institute for Computer Graphics Research (ICARI), Montreal, QC, 2003, Diploma in Web Design
  • Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow, Russia, 2000, B.A. equivalent in Linguistics and Communication
  • Visionary UX lead with experience, skill and passion for solving challenging design problems and creating unique, engaging, emotional, meaningful experiences on the web.
  • Mozilla Foundation Open Leadership program mentor, 2017 - present
  • Mozilla Foundation Open Leadership certificate, 12-Week Certificate Program, 2016
  • Purdue Bravo Award, Purdue IT, 2015
  • Technical Management Institute Certificate, Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, 2014
  • Purdue Special Merit Award, Purdue Discovery Park, 2007
  • Desktop Publishing Design Certificate, George Brown College, Toronto, ON, 2001
  • JavaScript, D3, HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, ClojureScript + React, Python, Git, Docker, Xcode, Github / GitLab, Adobe Creative Suite, responsive design, web standards, accessibility.