My PhD research focuses on users' agency perception ('sense of control') when interacting with intelligent interfaces. The resulting insights could be used to inform mixed-initiative system design (e.g. programming by example, probabilistic programming, end-user automation), which will facilitate back-and-forth interaction with inference components.
In my Master's and Bachelor's projects, I studied how to let HCI positively influence users' attitudes and behaviours (e.g. energy conservation, cross-cultural adaptation).
With a background in Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics, I also have a rich experience in complex systems optimisation (e.g. safety engineering, quality control, operations research).

Tsinghua University
8/2012 - 7/2014

MSc., Management Science

1st class honours. Ranked 1st in the year (GPA 3.96/4.00)

Tsinghua University
8/2008 - 7/2012

BSc., Industrial Engineering

1st class honours. Ranked 3rd in the year (GPA 3.85/4.00)

GCSE/A-Level Equivalent

China National College Entrance Exams

A* in all subjects. Top 0.03% in China (out of 10.5 million examinees).

Cambridge-CSC Scholarship

Fully funded PhD (over £120,000) by Cambridge Trust.

Best Master's Thesis Prize

Top 1% in Tsinghua University. For best thesis of the year:
'Promoting Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Language Learning by Augmented Reality Game'.

Excellent Graduate Student Prize

Top 0.5% in Beijing. For overall distinction.

National Graduate Scholarship

Top 0.5% in China. For overall distinction.

Best Bachelor's Thesis Prize

Top 1% in Tsinghua University. For best thesis of the year:
'Promoting Energy Conservation by Human-Agent Interaction on Social Media'.

Geru Zheng Scholarship

Top 3% in Tsinghua University. For academic distinction.

Yongwang Scholarship

Top 3% in Tsinghua University. For academic distinction.

Research & Work

My work experience, research projects, and leadership responsibilities.

As a UX researcher, I have one big research question - 'How to let technology influence users in a positive way?' - and I explore it through interdisciplinary approaches in my current and past projects.
I am also passionate about turning my knowledge and skills into strategies to resolve real-world problems, which would allow me to utilise my expertise in information technology, user-centred design, as well as my background in Industrial Engineering to the fullest.

Work Experience

Whizz Education

7/2016 - now

UX Consultant, Product Team

  Review and Redesign of Students' Experience

- Conducted product user experience (UX) review and evaluation
- Improved tablet application usability by designing floating keyboards
- Created conceptual models and visualisations for new releases
- Extra Duty: Developed investor deck in a team for CEO to raise £6M new capital

Newcastle University

1/2013 - 5/2013

Visiting UX Researcher, Culture Lab

  GLOBAL Sustainable Energy through China-UK Research Engagement Project (GLOBAL SECURE) for Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding

Collaborator: Dr. Patrick Olivier, Dr. Thomas Ploetz, Dr. Madeline Balaam, Sebastian Mellor
- Delivered project proposal ('Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding through Energy Sharing') at the workshop for lab director and investors
- Conducted 3 design iterations, built 4 storyboards and prototypes, improved interaction logic
- Designed pilot studies, interviewed UK and Chinese families, cross-cultural understanding demonstrably improved

State Grid Co.

9/2012 - 6/2013

UX Consultant, Energy Research Institute

  Demand-Side Management of Residential Electricity Use by HCI Approach

Advisor: Prof. P.L. Patrick Rau, Dr. Wanshan Zhu
- Built behaviour-decision model for residential energy use
- Mentored a team of 4 undergraduates, monitored project progress
- Developed personas and interviews for user modelling
- Designed mobile App E-Host, conducted user testings on prototypes

State Grid Co.

3/2011 - 1/2012

Project Leader, Beijing Electric Power Hospital

  Research and Development of Hospital Information System (HIS)

Advisor: Dr. Ming Yu
- Led a team of 6 people, organised focus group discussions for doctors and patients to gather users' requirements
- Built data model for pathology diagnosis codes (>55,000 lines)
- Developed information system to support doctors' diagnoses and patients' queries

Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co.

6/2011 - 9/2011

Junior Industrial Engineer, Supply Chain Management Department

  Management of Personnel and Onsite Logistics of Main Assembly Shop

- Conducted 120-hour field study, diagnosed on-site logistic problems by completing 10 sets of real-time motion analyses on main assembly lines
- Developed management information system (MIS) for over 3,600 parts and personnels
- Improved labour efficiency by 16.7%, balanced staff workload and reduced work in progress by establishing just-in-time delivery schedule and route

Research Projects

University of Cambridge

9/2014 - now

PhD Student, Graphics and Interaction Group

  Timing and Agency in Mixed Initiative Interaction

Supervisor: Prof. Alan Blackwell, Prof. Ian Cross
- Reviewed literature, formulated hypotheses on timing and agency
- Designed and conducted 3 experiments (24 sessions for each), analysed data (>300,000 lines) with SPSS and R, hypotheses were supported
- Applied findings to enhance the usability of intelligent interfaces
- Published paper and presented at academic conferences

Tsinghua University

3/2012 - 7/2014

Research Assistant, HCI Lab

  Promoting Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Language Learning by Augmented Reality Game

Advisor: Prof. P.L. Patrick Rau
- Reviewed literature, established a factorial cross-cultural adaptation model
- Embedded cultural connotations in task-based learning procedures
- Developed Smart Recipe with Kinect/C#, conducted 2 experiments
- Interviewed 20 foreign users, analysed data with SPSS
- Model was supported, cultural adaptation demonstrably improved

  Usability of 3D Metaphorical Filing System on Mobile Devices

Advisor: Dr. Pilsung Choe
- Surveyed literature, formulated hypotheses on the usability of 3D metaphorical filing system
- Developed testing system using JQuery/PHP System on Mobile Devices
- Designed and conducted 2 usability studies (60 sessions)
- Analysed operations and UX ratings data (>18,000 lines), hypotheses were supported

  Promoting Energy Conservation by Human-Agent Interaction on Social Media

Advisor: Prof. P.L. Patrick Rau
- Reviewed literature, formulated hypotheses on the effects of persuasive messages and the personification of agent on users’ energy-saving behaviours
- Designed use scenarios for Smart Home application, conducted 2 experiments (66 sessions)
- Analysed data using multivariate statistic model, hypotheses were supported

Leadership & Responsibilities


2015 - 2016

  Programme Coordinator, China UK Development Centre (UK)

- Managed and supervised over 40 overseas students for 4 weeks
- Received overall student satisfaction rating of 9.9/10


- Coxed and coached the Gonville & Caius MCR Women’s Boat
- Increased speed by 15% in 3 months

  Social Events Co-Chair, Women@CL (of Cambridge)>

- Organised fresher events and monthly social events for over 150 members
- Invited speakers from other universities to talk on women@CL seminars


2012 - 2015

  Research Demonstrator, Computer Lab Open Days
  MCR Representative, Gonville and Caius Music Society
  Invited Speaker, Dept. Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University

- Represented over 120 postgraduates on education reform meetings
- Delivered course lectures and seminars to over 60 undergraduates
- Mentored 2 undergraduate teams in the Student Research Challenge Cup


2010 - now

  Raised over £300 for Cancer Research UK
  Taught handicraft skills to adults with severe mental disabilities
  Translator in Global Summit of University Presidents (GSUP 2011)
  Terminal photographer in 2010 Beijing International Marathon


My papers, reports, lectures and presentations.

Yu, G. & Blackwell, A.F.. Effects of Timing on Users' Sense of Agency in Mixed-Initiative Interaction. The 31st British Human-Computer Interaction Conference. Sunderland, UK.

Yu, G., Rau, P. P.-L. & Li, Z.. Research and Development of Augmented Reality Game in Promoting Cross-Cultural Adaptation. The 24th Annual Conference of Ergonomics Society of Taiwan. Kinmen, Taiwan.

Yu, G. & Blackwell, A.F.. Timing and Agency in Mixed-Initiative Interaction. Oxbridge Women in Computer Science Conference 2017n. Oxford, UK.

Yu, G., Blackwell, A. F. & Cross, I.. Understanding Timing in Mixed-Initiative Interaction. Psychology of Programming Interest Group (PPIG) 2016, Graduate Consortium Paper. Cambridge, UK.

Yu, G.. 'Are you following?' - Agency and Expectation in Rhythmic Human-Computer Interaction. Caius to the Future Graduate Conference, Presentation. Gonville & Caius College.

Yu, G., Zhang, G.-Y. & Choe, P.. Does the Visual Realism of GUI Influence Usability? An Evaluation of Tablet Filing System. International Publications of Human-Computer Interaction, Taylor & Francis.

Yu, G., Rau, P.-L. P. & Sun, N.. Persuasion and Empowerment: The Role of Smart Agent in Energy Conservation. Computers in Human Behavior, Elsevier.

Yu, G.. Embrace a Smart Life: New Possibilities Brought by Human-Computer Interaction. 2013 National Doctoral Academic Forum on Industrial Engineering, Invited Report. Beijing, China.

Yu, G.. Towards A Safer Automation - A Human Factors Approach. Contemporary Safety Engineering Seminars, Lecture. Tsinghua University, China.

Yu, G.. Advanced Alarm System Design For Safety-Critical Application. Contemporary Safety Engineering Seminars, Lecture. Tsinghua University, China.

Yu, G.. Three-Dimensional Menu Design And Evaluation. Human Computer Interface Design, Lecture. Tsinghua University, China.

Yu, G.. 'Nursing Workload And Patient Safety In Intensive Care Unit - A Human Factors Engineering Conceptual Framework'. Advanced Human Factors Seminars, Review Lecture. Tsinghua University, China.

Yu, G.. Management of Personnel and Onsite Logistics of Dongfeng-Nissan Main Assembly Shop. Production Planning and Control, Invited Lecture. Tsinghua University, China.


My expertise, specialities and hobbies.

To make my interdisciplinary research possible, I have obtained a variety of expertise through my education and project experience. I am a fast learner and lots of my technical skills (e.g. programming) were self-taught.
While people call me 'workafrolic' because I enjoy working only too much, I am also very devoted to my hobbies in arts, classics and sports.

Professional Expertise

HCI Methodology

UX/UI design, Ergonomics, Experiment design, Statistics, Safety engineering, Biometrics, Behaviours & human errors analysis, Cognitive modelling, Decision theory, Quality Control


Matlab, Mathematica
AutoCAD, ProE


C++, C#
Javascript, JQuery


Chinese (native)
English (expert)
French (basic)

Specialities & Hobbies


Classical guitar
Choir singing
Handicrafts (3D cards)




Rowing (as coxswain)


Get in touch with me.

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