Curriculum Vitae

Who am I? Technical academic? Academic technologist? Yes!

21+ years in technology (hardware and software) from Apple to IBM
16+ years in development and design
12+ years in research for companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Motorola, General Motors, SoftLayer, and The Planet

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science focusing on the intersection of technology & people through human-computer interaction and social informatics
M.S. in Applied Anthropology focusing on computer-mediated experiences and technological organizations

My specialty is designing and researching data-driven interactive systems that are highly functional. The more high tech, security conscious, and data-dense, the better.

I enjoy finding ways to solve hard problems and making complex systems usable and understandable. My superpower is listening to and translating information between users, developers, designers, architects, product owners, and administrators.

I am a weaver of might and magic, and I love what I do.

What have I done? Over the last 10 years

  • July 2017

    Research Lead at IBM Cloud

    Started a User Research team at IBM Cloud working with Fortune 500 companies to improve their cloud experiences. Designed and conducted generative and evaluative research to provide data to drive design decisions. 

  • June 2016

    IAM and BSS Design Team Lead at IBM Cloud

    Lead a team of designers working on Identity and Access Management (Security) as well as Business Systems Support (Accounts). Released the first fine-grained access control for IBM Cloud. Awarded Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for my contributions. 

  • March 2016

    Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science

    Completed my Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction and Social Informatics. Conducted an ethnographic study on parental assessment of video game appropriateness for their children for my dissertation. 

  • March 2013

    Ph.D. Coursework & Qualifications Completed

    Completed all course requirements for my Ph.D. including but not limited to: 
    Readings in Social Informatics
    Data Modeling
    Web Development
    Design Anthropology
    Survey Design
    Human-Computer Interaction 
    Economics of Information
    General Research Methodology
    Cognitive Psychology 

  • January 2011

    Digital Anthropologist and Project Lead at Alterian

    Worked a 3-month contract as a project lead for one of the largest technology companies in the world conducting research (interviews and focus groups) on mobile developers. 

  • November 2010

    Senior User Experience Designer at SoftLayer

    Merged The Planet and SoftLayer infrastructure and hosting experiences together while providing a much needed updated experience to both. Provided UX direction for a continuous release cycle in an Agile environment including research, wireframes, workflows, and more. 

  • August 2010

    M.S. in Applied Anthropology

    Completed M.S. in Applied (Cultural) Anthropology with a focus on Cyber and Design Anthropology as well as Business and Organizational Anthropology. Conducted an ethnographic study on the developers of The Fedora Project.

  • November 2009

    Senior User Experience Designer at The Planet

    Brought User Experience Design to The Planet as their first and only UXD. Designed and released their first iPhone application. Started an entire redesign of their portal that eventually became the new SoftLayer experience when the companies were merged in 2010. Provided UX direction for a continuous release cycle in a new agile environment including research, wireframes, workflows, and more. 

  • April 2008

    Usability and Interface Engineer at HRsmart

    Brought User Experience Design to HRsmart taking their multi-siloed approach and redesigned it to be user and task focused. Many of my designs were released after I left the company and were used to help them win the coveted HR Shootout in 2010.

What do I do? Skills I have learned along the way

Research Design, Implementation, & Analysis
Usability & Accessibility Testing
Interaction Design
Visual Design
Information Architecture
Problem Solving & Strategy

How do I do it? Some of the tools I use to get the job done



Wireframing, Site Maps, Workflows, Information Architecture



Heuristic Reviews, Data Analysis

Realtime Board

Realtime Board

Research planning, design, analysis, and synthesis.



Presentations, Click-through Prototypes

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Icons, Visual Design, Photo Editing

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Icons, Vector Graphics



High Fidelity Wireframes





Where can you find me? Publications

Harrelson, D. (2016). Rated m for monkey: An ethnographic study of parental information behavior when assessing video game content for their children. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of North Texas, Denton, Texas.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
Hubbard, D. (2013). Collaboration beyond the game: How gamers work together beyond gaming environments to make their shared gaming experiences better. The Phoenix Papers,1(1). Retrieved from

Peer Reviewed Conference Papers
Harrelson Hubbard, D. (2013, July). An Exploration of Fedora’s Online Open Source Development Community. Paper presented at the Free Software Workshop, FISL, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Retrieved from

Other Articles
Harrelson, D. (2006). Minions of the night: Ethnography of a world of warcraft guild. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from

Why do I do it? Philosophy of me

As cliche as it might sound, I just really like helping people and the fact that I can do that through the design and development of useful software makes my job worthwhile. I won’t lie, it has taken me a while to get used to working for a large corporation that is more cumbersome than trying to use an inadequately documented and poorly written API. To do so, I had to get out of my office and away from my keyboard. 

As a researcher, I get to go beyond the fluff of “design thinking” or “empathy in design.” I get to put boots on the ground. I visit my users in their offices. I meet their teams. I get to see what their software does. I listen to them as they both praise and rip apart what my software does. I learn what their real problems are. I find the gaps, the room for improvement and innovation, that would be left undiscovered otherwise. I take all of these data points back, and I make sure they have a name, and a face, and present themselves as a real problem to solve. I make my research usable, and I follow through to see it so.

While there may be several layers between the person who runs my company and me, there are none between me and my users. And, that’s where my happiness is found.