DeKita Moon

4th Year PhD Candidate
Human-Centered Computing
University of Florida

About Me

When I was younger I definitely wanted to be a musician or singer. Instead, I went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Fort Valley State University and now I’m on my way to earning a Doctorate in Human Centered Computing.

How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?

Honestly, my experience went from one extreme to another. I was like any other student but I experienced a sudden change in how I thought about my future. I wanted to be better than average. Once I became focused and motivated, I couldn’t be stopped. I participated in a dual enrollment program for college after receiving a scholarship from The Rotary Club of Richmond Hill, Georgia.

After grad school, what’s next?

Would love to work in the industry at a tech company and eventually, start a nonprofit organization.

My Research

Tell us about your doctoral research

In layman’s terms, the purpose of my research is to create and assess new ways that operators interact with and control critical computer systems in order to improve user effectiveness. These computers are used in operation centers that human operators use to monitor and respond to issues and events. Due to the importance of their performance and their tasks, their jobs can be stressful and demanding in regard to the long work hours. I will investigate how these systems are currently designed with the user in mind, how people process information, and the ways in which humans interact with computers to increase the usability and efficiency of the system as well as user productivity and efficiency.

What motivated you to pursue this line of research?

I have always critiqued how things are designed, especially when it comes to computer interfaces. I would find myself thinking, “Why would they put that there?” or “I can navigate through this easily!” Graduate school has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in the fields of user-experience (UX) and user-interface (UI) design. I can’t think of a better, more important system to investigate that ensures the safety and security of people all around the nation.

What is the coolest thing about your research?

I get to support those that work around the clock to ensure the safety and protection of US citizens during critical events.

What is the most challenging part of research for you?

The hardest part is sticking to figuring out which problems you would like to fix first. There are just so many opportunities and challenges to explore.

My Grad School Experience

Why did you choose to go to Grad School?

I chose to go to grad school after my first undergraduate research experience and a summer at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Overall, I love research, I like a good challenge and I wanted to excel in an area that has never been discovered.

Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you get around that?

To be totally transparent, yes. I’ve felt discouraged several times on this journey for different reasons and at different moments, including few times when imposter syndrome reared its head. I overcame these moments by persevering, keeping my loved ones close, taking breaks when I needed and depending on Yahweh.

Who are some of your biggest cheerleaders?

My biggest cheerleaders are all the people in my corner! It’s important to keep people around you that want to see you win. My cheerleaders are: my family, friends (back home and lab mates), advisors, mentors and spiritual leaders. There is nothing like the love you get from your city and from those who are enduring the same process! Oh, and shout out to Macon, Georgia and the Human-Experience Research Lab!

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

  • “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)
  • Seek advice! You don’t have to know it all and there is always more to learn.
  • It’s not always about what you know but who you know.

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