Brent Hecht
Assistant Professor
Human-Computer Interaction
Communication Studies
Computer Science
Northwestern University

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


Feb. 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.

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.

Apr. 2015: Our work on using specialized domain signals to improve semantic relatedness estimation (low-level, but important!) was accepted at the International Joint Conference in Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2015), one of the top publication venues in that field (collaboration w/ Shilad Sen, my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson, Matthew Wright, and several wonderful undergrads from a NSF-funded summer undergraduate research experience).

Apr. 2015: Our paper on a new approach to smartwatch cartography that linearizes routing guidance (no need to pan around that tiny screen!) was accepted at MobileHCI 2015 (w/ Dirk Wenig, Johannes Schöning, and Rainer Mailaka).

Apr. 2015: Went to CHI2015 in Seoul to see two collaborative projects beautifully presented by my colleagues Shilad Sen and Pavel Samsonov. Also gave a guest lecture at KAIST while I was out there (thanks to Alice Oh for the invite!)

Apr. 2015: Nominated for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) GeoForAll Global Educator of the Year Award (w/ Shashi Shekhar) for our MOOC on spatial computing.

Mar. 2015: Check out our ICWSM 2015 paper, which finds that in Wikipedia, the most popular content is often not of the highest-quality (w/ Morten Warcke-Wang, Vivek Ranjan, Loren Terveen).

Mar. 2015: Our CHI 2015 paper on geographic disparities in the "localness" of user-generated content received an Honorable Mention at CHI 2015, indicating a Top-5% submission (w/ Shilad Sen, Heather Ford, Mark Graham, Oliver Keyes).

Jan. 2015: Received a CSCW 2015 Best Paper Award (indicates top 1% of submissions) for our paper on Mechanical Turk and gold standards (w/ Shilad Sen and seven awesome undergrads at Macalester College)!

Jan. 2015: Talk at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

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

On Doctoral Committee