About Me

A Profile Picture for Zainab Iftikhar

I’m a third-year Ph.D. Candidate at Brown University studying Computer Science. I work in the Brown HCI Lab advised by Jeff Huang.

My research focuses on creating systems to enhance technology-driven accessibility in mental health support, legal aid, and public health information.

Previously, I worked as a software engineer at Pantera Energy and then as a Research Associate at HCI for Social Well-being Lab. I received my B.Sc. from NUCES in 2018, where I majored in Computer Science.


May 2023: I passed my comprehensive exams. I’m now a Ph.D. Candidate.

April 2023: I presented the Live Typing paper at CHI in Hamburg, Germany.

December 2022: My paper on collaborative tools for online presence was accepted to #CHI2023!

September 2021: I started my Ph.D. at Brown!

August 2021: I resigned from my position as a Research Associate at HCI for Social Well-being Lab at LUMS.

Research Projects

Sochiatrist: a social data extractor used to predict signals of interconnecteness and self-reflection from social messaging data [website]

Scalable CBT: an accessible chat-based platform that provides peer support through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) [website]

Live Typing: real-time typing indicators designed to increasing social presence for improved collaboration and task performance [code] [npm package]

Corona Assisted: Pakistan’s first chat-based platform that integrates eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) for fact-checking information on COVID-19 [website]

HumQadam (Securing Activists for Freedom and Empowerment]: Pakistan’s first question-answer system designed to educate women regarding legal actions that can be undertaken for violence and abuse [app]


HCI work I have published. * denotes equal contribution.

Machine and Human Understanding of Empathy in Online Peer Support: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach [pdf]
Sara Syed, Zainab Iftikhar, Amy Xiao, Jeff Huang
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). Honolulu, Hawaii, 2024

“Together but not together”: Evaluating Typing Indicators for Interaction-Rich Communication [pdf]
Zainab Iftikhar, Yumeng Ma, Jeff Huang
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). Hamburg, Germany, 2023

Child-Computer Interaction in the Global South: Designing for Children on the Margins [pdf]
Suleman Shahid, Zainab Iftikhar, Rabiah Arshad, Omar Mubin, Abdullah Al Mahmud
In Interaction Design and Children, 2021.

Technology, Privacy, and User Opinions of COVID-19 Mobile Apps for Contact Tracing: Systematic Search and Content Analysis [pdf]
Mahmoud Elkhodr, Omar Mubin, Zainab Iftikhar, Maleeha Masood, Belal Alsinglawi, Suleman Shahid, Fady Alnajjar
Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) 23, no. 2 (2021): e23467.

Designing Parental Monitoring and Control Technology: A Systematic Review [pdf]
Zainab Iftikhar, Qutaiba Rohan ul Haq, Osama Younus, Taha Sardar, Hammad Arif, Mobin Javed, Suleman Shahid
Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2021: 18th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Bari, Italy, August 30–September 3, 2021, Proceedings, Part IV 18


Fun things I develop and share with the internet.