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UXR Spotlight: Allaire Welk

Allaire Welk with her dog, Dobie.
with her dog, Dobie

This spotlight was part of USERWEEKLY - a weekly email to understand what is happening in user research. It's the best way to keep up on trends, methodologies, insights across the industry, and meet new researchers. Each week, the newsletter captures the pulse of our community and answers a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?

Hi Allaire Welk, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Allaire Welk! I’m formally trained in Human Factors; I got my PhD from North Carolina State University - where I studied attention, perception, and decision making - in 2017. Since then, I’ve worked at WillowTree, UserZoom, Peloton, and I’m currently a Senior UXR at Google. I’m passionate about mixed methods research, creative problem solving, and building products that improve people’s lives. Outside of work, I love all types of cycling (gravel, mountain, road) and trail running with my dog, Dobie.

What originally got you interested in UX Research?
I distinctly remember the day I became interested in UX research! I was an undergraduate sophomore and trying to figure out what I was going to do after college. One day as I was walking through Poe Hall at NCSU, I saw a flier requesting research assistants for Dr. Anne McLaughlin’s Learning, Aging, and Cognitive Ergonomics (LACE) Lab. There was a small write-up describing the type of research I would be able to support if I was selected for the opportunity; the first line went something like this: “Gains through gaming: determining how video games affect older adult cognition.” This was the first time I’d heard of Human Factors, and everything about it appealed to me immediately; understanding human behavior through cognitive mechanisms, the challenge of communicating complicated concepts in an accessible way, and leveraging research with the goal of improving people’s lives. I took one of the contact cards, sent an email, volunteered with the LACE lab for over a year, and ultimately fell in love with the research process and outcomes.

If you had unlimited budget and time for research, what would you do with it?
I’d invest in a series of foundational research studies on a broad topic that could impact a lot of people in a positive way, something like understanding the future of collaboration and remote work or identifying effective strategies for motivating people to embrace activity and exercise. I personally love diving deep and really getting to know the intricacies of a problem space, and this type of work typically allows you to leverage fun combinations of qualitative and quantitative research methods and generate creative, impactful deliverables. Beyond being fun and challenging, I find that having a solid foundation of knowledge leads to more impactful research down the line and dramatically increases a team’s ability to positively impact the people for which they’re designing.

What can people reach out to you about and how can they find you?
I’m an open book! I love chatting with folks who are looking to break into the UX research field, UX researchers early in their career who are running their first few studies and learning their personal research style, and UXR veterans. I particularly enjoy chatting about ways to leverage human attention and perception research within industry contexts and how to creatively implement research methods. Oh and all things running! The best way to contact me is either through LinkedIn or email.

Thank you, Allaire!