Brent Hecht
Assistant Professor
Human-Computer Interaction
Spatial Computing
Northwestern University

People, Space, and Algorithms Research Group

ACM Future of Computing Academy

2240 Campus Rd., Evanston, IL
Frances Searle Building 1-144
Google Scholar
Twitter (@bhecht)


Jan. 2018: Honored to receive a CHI Best Paper Award for "Examining Wikipedia With a Broader Lens: Quantifying the Value of Wikipedia’s Relationships with Other Large-Scale Online Communities". Congrats especially to awesome student authors Nick Vincent and Isaac Johnson.

Jan. 2018: Our lab has its website!:

Dec. 2017: WWW paper accepted. Congrats to student author Allen Lin!

Dec. 2017: Three ACM SIGCHI 2018 papers accepted. Congrats to student authors Nick Vincent, Isaac Johnson and Ankit Kariryaa!

Aug. 2017: Two new ACM CSCW / PACM papers: A literature review on sharing economy research (w/ Tawanna Dillahunt, Haiyi Zhu, and wonderful Ph.D. students) and an investigation of bias in five-star people-rating systems (w/ Loren Terveen, Joe Konstan, Aaron Halfaker, and [yet more] wonderful Ph.D. students).

June 2017: Happy to announce that I have been selected as the Chair of the ACM Future of Computing Academy! Feel free to contact me if you have questions, input, or would like to participate.

May 2017: I was one of 46 computer scientists around the world admitted to the inaugural ACM Future of Computing Academy. We've been tasked with developing "a coherent and influential voice that addresses challenging issues facing the field and society in general."

May 2017: New paper accepted into PACM IMWUT / Ubicomp 2017 on the externalities of geographic routing algorithms, e.g. which neighborhoods win and lose with different algorithms (awesome student lead: my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson).

Mar. 2017: Two papers accepted at ICWSM 2017: One on the substantial interdependence between Wikipedia and Google, another on the role that textual context (doesn't) play in disambiguating the meaning of emoji. Extra big high-fives to student authors Isaac Johnson, Connor McMahon, Hannah Miller, and Daniel Kluver.

Mar. 2017: Our position paper on the role that human geography plays in collective intelligence systems will appear at Collective Intelligence 2017 (w/ Loren Terveen).

Feb. 2017: Article at accepted at ACM TOCHI on research that identifies the critical role that human geography (e.g. the "Big Sort") plays in the variable effectiveness of the sharing economy (awesome student lead: Jacob Thebault-Spieker, awesome collaborator: Loren Terveen).

Dec. 2016: Four papers accepted at CHI 2017 on work with awesome students (special shout out to first authors Isaac Johnson, Allen Yilun Lin, Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Ashley Colley, and Andrew Hall) and amazing colleagues (Johannes Schöning, Loren Terveen, Shilad Sen).

Nov. 2016: New blog post on the implications of the 2016 election for human-computer interaction (my primary branch of computer science).

Sept. 2016: New paper accepted at CSCW 2017 on accurately matching "parent" Wikipedia articles with their "sub-articles" (e.g. "United States" and "American Literature"). Congrats to my Ph.D. student Yilun Lin on his first first-authored CS paper!

Aug. 2016: Started at Northwestern University!

Apr. 2016: New blog post on our paper about emoji's potential for miscommunication.

Mar. 2016: My NSF CAREER proposal on "Understanding and Addressing Geographic Inequalities in Location-Aware Technologies" was funded!

Mar. 2016: Our paper on the potential for accidental miscommunication when using emoji was accepted at ICWSM 2016. Three cheers to the large GroupLens team behind the paper!

Dec. 2015: Three papers accepted at CHI 2016 (w/ my awesome co-authors Isaac Johnson, Allen Lin, Toby Li, Andrew Hall, Sree Sengupta, Aaron Halfaker, Marcus Soll, Philipp Naumann, Pavel Samsonov, and Johannes Schöning) More details as we publish the final drafts!

Nov. 2015: Gave a talk preceding the awarding of the Erasmus Prize to Wikipedia (and afterwards explained my research to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands himself!)

Nov. 2015: Paper on structural biases in crowd-derived geographic information accepted at the AAAI Spring Symposium on Observational Studies through Social Media and Other Human-Generated Content (w/ my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson)

Sept. 2015: Got married!

August 2015: New project funded by the National Science Foundation ("Human-centered Semantic Relatedness", a collaboration with Shilad Sen).

June 2015: Our paper on smartwatch cartography – StripeMaps: Improving Map-based Pedestrian Navigation for Smartwatches – has been given a Best Paper Award at MobileHCI 2015!

June 2015: We've launched a public beta of Atlasify ('Towards the Geography of Everything'), our research system published at SIGIR! Check it out at

May 2015: Gave an invited talk at the "Social Pedia" workshop at ICWSM, organized by folks at Stanford and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Come Work with Me!

I am currently looking for students excited about doing work at the intersection of HCI, geography, and big data. Undergraduate and graduate students who would like to join my group should feel free to e-mail me directly. Please include a little bit about yourself (e.g. your major, degrees, CV/resume) and let me know something about your research interests. I have worked with students with backgrounds in computer science, geography (with strong technical skills) and/or related disciplines.

Current Students

Doctoral Advisees