Digital user experience researchers join ComArtSci, bring Workforce Background Check grant to M&I

Dr. Sarah Swierenga and Thi Nguyen have joined ComArtSci’s Department of Media and Information.

Dr. Swierenga joins M&I as a professor of practice, providing management and user experience research expertise to help transform organizational culture by empowering teams to enhance the usability and accessibility of their digital strategies, technologies and processes. Dr. Swierenga also is working on creating a master's UX program within M&I.

Thi Nguyen joins M&I as a senior developer and an outreach specialist.

As principal investigator, Dr. Swierenga leads the Michigan Workforce Background Check program, which is a secure online system that helps to protect people across Michigan from abuse, neglect, and exploitation through comprehensive background checks.

The current year’s grant, now housed in M&I, totals nearly $500,000. The grant is a partnership between Michigan State University, Yale University and the State of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to enhance, develop and maintain the online system.

" Dr. Sarah Swierenga (left) and Thi Nguyen (right)."

Dr. Sarah Swierenga (left) and Thi Nguyen (right)

“I primarily handle overall program management and lead the user experience research,” Dr. Swierenga said. “MSU has had a long-standing grant with the State, partnering with them for over 16 years to develop, enhance, maintain, and host the statewide system.”

Dr. Fuad Abujarad from the Yale School of Medicine, who is the system architect and principal investigator of the Yale Subaward, Thi Nguyen and Dr. Swierenga work together to enhance the successful background check system for LARA. The state-of-the-art system is hosted at MSU IT and adheres to the Federal Criminal Justice Information System IT security standards.

"Most recently, Dr. Abujarad and I have published research on how our childcare background check system serves as a practical example of how statewide systems can be developed using user-centered design best practices,” Dr. Swierenga said. “This approach can also be utilized in other state programs.”

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By Joe Strother