Caitlin Kelleher
Associate Professor
Urbauer Career Development Chair
Computer Science and Engineering
Washington University in St. Louis

office: Jolley 411

Spring 2021 course: CSE 256a: Human-Centered Design

My research group explores ways to democratize computer programming. Much of our current research is embodied in the Looking Glass programming environment.

Looking Glass - Learn to Program
Computing has become a fundamental tool in nearly every career field. Yet there are few opportunities for children to learn basic computer programming. Inspired by my research around Storytelling Alice, Looking Glass introduces basic programming within the context of creating open-ended animated stories. In the years since Storytelling Alice, we've been exploring how to enable and maximize learning from programs that others create. Looking Glass includes support for selecting animations of interest in a program shared through our online community and remixing it into your own program. We're currently looking at how to automatically generate effective tutorials based on the selected code, how to recommend animations in other programs that introduce new computing ideas, and how to harness potential help from expert mentors to create learning support for kids without access to opportunities to explore computing in their own communities.

Rapid Development Environments for Stroke Therapy Games
In addition to our work on Looking Glass, we do some work on designing programming environments for professionals in non-technology fields. In one recent project, we explored how to support physical and occupational therapists in creating games for stroke rehabilitation. This is a large and growing problem in the US and around the world. Each year there are approximately 700,000 new or recurrent cases of stroke, a number that is expected to rise as our population continues to age. Approximately 50% of stroke survivors experience hemiparesis, the decreased ability to perform purposeful movement. Stroke survivors' difficulties with purposeful motion often lead to a loss of independence and an increased need for health and social services. Intensive therapy can help stroke survivors to regain motor control lost through a stroke. But, recovery can often involve daily sessions of hundreds of motion repetitions, a process that can often be tedious for stroke survivors. Computer games present an opportunity to embed therapy motions within a motivating context.

Sound interesting? I am always looking for talented graduate and undergraduate students. To get a sense of what it's like to work on Looking Glass, check out our blog.

If you're an undergrad at Wash U, the first step is to download Looking Glass and build something cool with it. Then, send me the pointer to what you've built and we can chat about opportunities and directions.

If you're an undergraduate somewhere other than Wash U, you might be interested in our Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.