New Professor Highlight: Dr. Chen Guo

Media Arts and Design

Before coming to teach in the SMAD department in fall 2017, Chen Guo came to the United States for the first time just six years earlier to start her doctoral program at Purdue University. Expecting to see rows of skyscrapers and city lights, Guo arrived in the small Midwest town of West Lafayette, Ind., to see rows and rows of corn.

At Purdue, she began studying data visualization and navigated her way through programs like JavaScript.

She also honed her research interests that now include human-computer interaction, user interface design and user experience, information visualization and analytics. Her work in her doctoral program did not go unnoticed. She walked away with the Sponsor’s Award for Novel Visualization in IEEE VAST and got first runner-up in the NordiCHI 2014 Student Design Competition. Both of these competitions involve problem solving with interactive design.

Some of the design projects she has led include the development of a leather wallet with a small digital screen for aged parents to receive and display pictures or videos sent from their children, which reinforces the connection and emotional feelings between family members.

Guo grew up in a small town in central China. At the age of 17, she was on her way to the city of Nanjing to study radio and television science at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

While it sounds like a school for those interested in aerospace, Guo was in a program that she compares to a mix of SMAD’s digital video and cinema and journalism.

“We collaborated with the other programs to create media content,” Guo said.

Because of her high GPA in undergrad, she was able to bypass the graduate school exam and go straight to the Harbin Institute of Technology, where her interest in Interactive Design started.

“I became interested in the technology of new media,” Guo said. “I’m really into it.”

That interest is what brought her to Purdue and eventually to JMU. She started looking at integrating art into new media technology. Her adviser from Purdue, Dr. James L. Mohler, taught a course at Harbin and was the one who eventually encouraged her to come to the United States to continue her studies.

“I was very excited,” Guo said. “Everything was new to me.”

With her background in carious media formats, Guo knew, when she came across the job opening in SMAD, that she had found an ideal first job.

This semester she is teaching SMAD 317: User Interaction Design and SMAD 203: Foundations of User Experience Design.

ven though the content of these courses fits her expertise perfectly, Guo said her favorite part is who she teaches.

“I like my students. They’re really smart,” she said.

Making the move from Indiana to Harrisonburg was not too big of an adjustment, either.

“It’s small town. I’m very familiar with this kind of environment,” Guo said.

When she is not in Harrison Hall, she enjoys hiking, running and playing with her young daughter. She loves Harrisonburg for its beauty and lack of big city traffic.

Although the separation from her family, who are still in China, is tough, she enjoys teaching and wants to continue publishing her research here in the United States.

“This job was a really good fit,” she said.

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Published: Saturday, September 1, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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