GRADUCon 2018 - Careers in User Experience and Consumer Insights Panel


Are you interested in applying social science research methods in an industry setting? User experience (UX) and consumer insights are two growing fields which regularly higher advanced degree professionals to employ qualitative research methods to solving business problems. Whether designing wayfinding in buildings or interfaces for apps, UX researchers need to understand and meet the needs of diverse clients.  Consumer insights are critical to the development and ultimate success of a product or service. Researchers in these fields have backgrounds in social sciences, hard sciences, and the humanities, depending on the specific field, and the diversity of our panelists reflects the diversity of places where graduate students and postdocs can look for rewarding work.


Kirsten Bruckbauer, Senior UX Researcher, Allstate (MA Social Sciences 2010)

Kirsten developed her style as a UX research practitioner by studying qualitative and quantitative methods in the social sciences and by applying principles and techniques learned from her experiences in journalism, the performing arts, experiential education, teaching English as a second language, wilderness first aid, grant writing, yoga, expatriotism, and motherhood. She is a certified LUMA practitioner, a SAFe Agilist, and will soon complete her certificate in UX Management with the Nielsen Norman Group. She manages a small team of user experience researchers at Allstate where she designs and leads a strategic research program focused on the integration and unification of several agency-facing enterprise software applications. Prior to joining Allstate, she was a research director at GfK. Her MAPSS program master’s thesis on the Doomsday Clock won the program’s Johnson Prize in 2010 for best thesis with social policy implications.

Erin Yazgan, Senior Analyst- Consumer Insights, Constellation Brands (MA Humanities 2011)

Erin is a graduate of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and Integrated Marketing Program at the University of Chicago Graham School. She began her career in Market Intelligence and Strategic Planning at several marketing and advertising agencies, working across categories such as beer, spirits, insurance, beauty, and hospitality. In September 2015, Erin joined the Consumer Insights & Analytics team at Constellation Brands, supporting the Beer Division.

Jared Jeffers, Vice President, User Experience, Gfk (MA Social Sciences 2007)

As a UX professional with a background in anthropology, I have leveraged research findings, both domestically and globally, into an enhanced user experience on hundreds of projects across industries, technologies, and product types. I approach every UX question with a passion for humans and a keen interest in making the world a better place through design.

Craig Kinnear, Senior Research Analyst, Mintel (PhD History, Notre Dame)

Craig Kinnear is a humanist working in a data-driven world. In 2016, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Ph.D. in modern U.S. history. While he was finishing his graduate work, he took a job with a consulting start-up where he learned how to adapt his research and teaching experiences for the private sector. He is currently a Senior Research Analyst at Mintel, a market research company, where he uses qualitative and quantitive methods to analyze the marketing strategies of Fortune 500 companies.


Melody Roberts, Innovator, Polsky Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MDes, Human-Centered Product Design, Illinois Institute of Technology 1998)

Melody Roberts is a leader of cross-functional teams that innovate new products, services and systems for consumers and organizations. She launched her career as a design consultant, first at Smart Design NYC and then IDEO Palo Alto. She spent a decade in the McDonald’s global innovation team, redesigning their legendary service models and incubating what would become their digital strategy. She then spent two years leading customer experience for Panera. Today she is running a startup whose product prevents pee leaks for incontinent women! (Yup.) Melody was educated in American Studies at Yale (BA, 1990) and Human-Centered Product Design at Illinois Tech (MDes, 1998).