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Kirstie Hawkey (BCS'00)

A day in the life

Kirstie Hawkey (BCS'00)

Doing research and designing user studies is really fun and challenging. You're trying to understand natural behaviours by putting participants in unnatural settings.

A lifelong journey


Things have truly come full circle for Kirstie Hawkey. Just four years ago, the mature student finished her PhD at Dalhousie; today, she’s an assistant professor at the university.

While Kirstie did a year of science studies at Dalhousie in 1980, she didn’t return to the campus until 1998. But at that point, she knew she wanted to pursue computer science.

During that gap, she'd worked at some radio stations and became interested in the role technology played in the workplace.

Besides teaching, Kirstie does research in the area of human computer interaction, a discipline that looks at how people use computers and what can be done to improve the user’s experience. In particular, her focus is on privacy and security.

“One project I have been working on is how to make the warning messages in personal firewalls more understandable and how to get people to act on those warnings,” says Kirstie.

The best of both worlds


A naturally curious individual, she loves doing research and says she fell into doing human computer interaction because it isn’t just working with a computer—it allows her to work with people.

“I like observing things and understanding,” she says. “Doing research and designing user studies is really fun and challenging. You're trying to understand natural behaviours by putting participants in unnatural settings.”