Zainab Iftikhar


I’m a rising fourth-year PhD candidate in Computer Science at Brown University, where I am advised by Jeff Huang.

I study human-AI collaboration in everyday settings, with a focus on Natural Language Processing (NLP), Human-AI Interaction, and Computational Social Science. My systems have been deployed in healthcare, education, legal aid, and for the marginialised population in Global South. My long term research goal is to improve people’s lives and relationships through the design of better tech.

Previously, I was a Software Engineer at Pantera Energy and then a Research Associate at HCI for Social Well-being Lab. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from National University of Computer & Emerging Science, Lahore.


May 17, 2024 Can AI understand empathy? See our talk at CHI’24 in Honolulu, Hawaii
May 06, 2024 I received the Paris Kanellakis Graduate Fellowship Award for the Academic Year 2023-2024!
Jan 22, 2024 Invited to talk about The Role of Human, AI and Design in Mental Health Access at Carnegie Mellon University
May 31, 2023 Passed my comprehensive exams at Brown. I’m now a Ph.D. Candidate!
Apr 27, 2023 Can typing indicators improve task performance and online collaboration? See my talk at CHI’23 in Hamburg, Germany

selected publications

  1. CHI
    Machine and Human Understanding of Empathy in Online Peer Support: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach
    Sara Syed*, Zainab Iftikhar*, Amy Wei Xiao, and Jeff Huang
    In Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2024
  2. CHI
    “Together but not together”: Evaluating Typing Indicators for Interaction-Rich Communication
    Zainab Iftikhar, Yumeng Ma, and Jeff Huang
    In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2023
  3. JMIR
    Technology, privacy, and user opinions of COVID-19 mobile apps for contact tracing: Systematic search and content analysis
    Mahmoud Elkhodr, Omar Mubin, Zainab Iftikhar, Maleeha Masood, and 3 more authors
    J Med Internet Res, 2021