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🗞 From Academia to Industry: Lessons from a Psychologist

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
4 min read
🗞 In this edition, I chatted with Thalia Barry, IBM’s 2023 UX Researcher of the Year. Thalia shares her journey from artist to UX Researcher and how she uses visual storytelling and sales techniques to communicate research findings effectively.

💡 I also found great reads on advancing your career in research operations, reducing research waste, and moving from insights to action. And our partners at Maze just announced their research and discovery conference DISCO CONF. You can grab your free tickets here.

🏡 On a personal note, we spent last weekend getting the nursery ready for our baby girl, including DIY-ing some posters with graffiti and crayons 🤗 Big thanks to those who shared their parenting book recommendations! Up next on my audiobook list: "Hunt, Gather, Parent."

Happy Researching,
Jan 🙌

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😌 Humans of User Research with Thalia Barry

Thalia Barry
Thalia Barry

Hi Thalia, tell us a little about yourself!
As an Advisory UX Researcher, I’m part of a Design Team building Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence product experiences that help run the world’s global economy. Despite being only three years in, I’ve received IBM’s 2023 UX Researcher of the Year Award in the Impact category and our product team won the 2024 AI Excellence Award from The Business Intelligence Group. This drive towards novelty comes from my creative misfit ethos—I intersect the trifecta of artist, designer, and researcher. You can find me in Colorado, where my husband and I are putting down roots and exploring nature off-grid.

What's a valuable lesson you've learned during your journey in research?
Impactful UX research is similar to art; it can make people feel seen and understood. My journey from artist to UXer taught me that lesson. Ironically, my art and design skills of captivating attention, storytelling from another’s point of view, and meticulous observation have set me apart as a UX Researcher. Add onto the fact that I’m an Afro-Latina in the AI design field, I know how important it is to feel heard so that deepens my resolve to be an active listener and co-create with people.

 What's your superpower for turning research findings into actionable insights?
I always say; you could have the most groundbreaking insight ever, but if you cannot communicate that in a way that inspires action, your research isn’t going anywhere. What better way to inspire action than by taking a page out of sales and advertisement? My UXR superpower is using visual storytelling & sales techniques to make a quantifiable impact. Don’t write insights; write unforgettable headlines.

How can people learn more about you and your work?
For free content about Artificial Intelligence, UX Research & Design, follow me on Linkedin. To see my past UX case studies and art gallery, check out my Portfolio. If you love art and the process behind charcoal, painting & illustration, follow me on Instagram.

The postings on this site/interview are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Thank you, Thalia!

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📚 Articles of the Week.

Advancing your career in research operations
Navigating a career in an emerging field like research operations often feels like charting unexplored territory. Noël Lamb 05/21

Principles for reducing research waste in product development
Using durability, adaptability, connectivity, and visibility to create research wealth. Jake Burghardt 05/22

❇️ DISCO CONF is back for 2024! ❇️  (Sponsored)
Happening on October 17, Disco Conf is the research and discovery conference by Maze, designed for organizations that learn. Global, free, and online-by-design—all you have to do is register. Register for free

What is funnel technique in qualitative user research
Discover our complete guide to using funnel technique questioning for conducting user research, with helpful examples on how to implement it in your own research studies. Disha Mod 05/17

How to move from insights to action
Craft uses storytelling in UX research to communicate findings. Visualize and design to show insights and provide actionable recommendations. Emily Stuart 05/22

From academia to industry: what I’ve learnt as a psychologist turned UX researcher
Explore the journey from academic research to UX research and its challenges. Key insights: leverage academic skills in data analysis, adapt to industry expectations, and focus on practical, user-centered outcomes. Sophia Omarji 05/19

The power of collaboration in user research
Explore UX research challenges from growing projects and client demands, emphasizing collaboration and technology. Key strategies: leverage diverse perspectives, use AI for data synthesis, and balance speed with quality insights. Jasper Kense 05/15

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🎥 Video of the Week.

Quant UX and Marketing Research
Discusses the role of quantitative methods in UX research with insights from Chris Chapman of Amazon. Key points: integrate design and statistical methods, prioritize tasks with Max diff tests, and leverage interdisciplinary skills. YouTube 05/18

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🔉 Audio of the Week.

Jenny Lo, ex-Head of Research at Grammarly
Jenny Lo shares insights from leading research at Grammarly and working with AI/ML engineering teams. Key takeaways: collaborate closely with engineers, understand AI applications, and integrate research into AI development processes. Spotify Apple 05/17

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🗓 UserCalendar: Events Next Week.

AMA with Steve: What makes a mature research practice? (free)
May 30 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT
Join an AMA with Steve Portigal discussing mature research practices. You can submit your own questions for Steve. Learn more