I am Abdallah El Ali , but most call me Abdo. I am currently a Postdoctoral researcher in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at the Media Informatics and Multimedia Systems group at the University of Oldenburg / OFFIS (Germany). My research methods and topics have been diverse, ranging from social media data mining to support urban exploration, developing sensor-based tracking technologies for behavior change, investigating core usability issues in 3D gesture based interaction across domains, to more qualitative research to better understand mobile users.

I spent a year between research positions working as a User Experience Designer at Osudio, a full-service e-commerce & consultancy agency in Amsterdam. There, I learned the ropes of coordinating with clients directly, understanding their business needs and KPIs, and helped them define optimal user experiences for their services. Before that, I received my doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Amsterdam working at the Information and Language Processing Systems group, where I did extensive research in Human Computer Interaction.


Postdoctoral Researcher

University of Oldenburg / OFFIS
Media Informatics and Multimedia Systems group

  • I am involved in a) coordinating and helping write national and European ICT research proposals b) co- supervising doctoral, master's, and bachelor's students c) Co-teaching bachelor and master's HCI courses
  • I carry out independent HCI research, where I focus on a) designing and evaluating sensor-based behavior tracking technology b) running studies to understand mobile users in developing countries c) large-scale mining of social media data to understand global crises d) smartphone keyboard layout optimization using facial expression emotion recognition and crowdsourcing

Oldenburg, DE

Feb 16, 2015 - Present

User Experience Designer


  • I helped win pitches, ran UX strategy sessions with clients, and designed e-commerce focused (responsive) digital experiences across web and devices. This included market research, carrying out persona and Customer Experience Map sessions, conducting expert reviews, making concept designs, wireframing, and analyzing web analytics. Worked with agile, pure scrum, and waterfall processes

Amsterdam, NL

Jan 1, 2014 - Nov 27, 2014

Research Intern

Telekom Innovation Laboratories, Quality & Usability Lab

  • Designed and executed (with Dr. Hamed Ketabdar) (a) a usability study (part of the MagiThings Project) on magnet-based gesture interaction for music composition (El Ali et al., 2013) (b) a usability and security study (part of the MagiThings Project) on the use of magnet-based air signatures for user authentication (El Ali & Ketabdar, 2015)

Berlin, DE

Apr 1, 2012 - Jun 29, 2012

Research Intern

Nokia Research Center (NRC), Organic User Interfaces team

  • Helped in setting up, data analysis, and writing up of a large-scale in-the-wild qualitative user study on mobile interaction with public interfaces (Holopainen et al., 2011)
  • Designed and executed (with NRC Helsinki) a usability study that investigated effects of error on device-based gesture interaction (El Ali et al., 2012; best student paper award)

Finland, FI

Apr 26, 2011 - Jul 26, 2011


PhD., Computer Science

ILPS, Intelligent Systems Lab Amsterdam , University of Amsterdam

  • My research focused on advanced interaction methods to address the user experience and usability of smartphone use, specifically how to minimize mobile interaction
  • Thesis title: Minimal Mobile Human Computer Interaction

Amsterdam, NL

Apr 1, 2009 - Nov 15, 2013

M.Sc., Cognitive Science

University of Amsterdam

  • Two-year program, Total ECTS: 124, Total Grade (Dutch Grading System): 8.4/10 (GPA conversion: 3.71 or A)
  • Thesis title: Reproducing the Passage of Time: Effects of Stimulus Complexity, Quantity, and Cognitive Interference (Thesis Grade: 9.5/10)

Amsterdam, NL

Sept 1, 2006 - Aug 29, 2008

B.A., Linguistics (English Language)

American University of Beirut

  • Three-year program (in addition to Freshman year), Total Grade: 85/100 (GPA conversion = 3.63 or A). Graduated with distinction.
  • Double minor: Cognitive Science, Philosophy

Beirut, LB

Sept 1, 2002 - Jun 24, 2006


Human Computer Interaction

  • User-centered design, usability testing (controlled, field), remote testing (A/B, MVT), contextual inquiry, heuristic evaluation, card sorting, Wizard-of-Oz, interviews (+ open coding), surveys, affinity diagramming

Data Science

  • Social media data (Twitter, Flickr) crawling, cleaning and analysis; facial emotion recognition using deep convolutional neural networks (TFlearn, TensorFlow); crowdsourcing; descriptive and inferential statistics (incl. correlation, regression, ANOVA, t-test, chi-square, factor analysis); applied machine learning (supervised, unsupervised); Bash, Python (Pandas, NumPy, SciPy, OpenCV, ScikitLearn), iPython, R (ggplot2), SQL


  • Arabic (native), English (fluent), Dutch (intermediate), German (basic)



  • Won the FNWI (Faculty of Science) 2nd Science Slam (2013) for most exciting research. Certificate available
  • Best student paper award at ICMI 2012
  • Best workshop paper at Please Enjoy workshop at MobileHCI 2011
  • Awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) travel grant for ICMI-MLMI 2010 (Beijing, China)
  • Dean's Honor List (American University of Beirut): Spring 2003, Spring 2004, Fall 2005, Spring 2005, Fall 2006


Conference & Journal reviewer

  • CHI 2016, 2013, 2012; CSCW 2017, 2016, 2013; AutoUI 2015; CHI Play 2015; MobileHCI 2016, 2015, 2013; UIST 2013; DIS 2012; ICMI 2011; CIE
2011 - 2016

Google NL Startup Week


UX Hackathon Amsterdam

  • Was a mentor at the UX Hackathon Amsterdam event hosted by CareerFoundry

AWESOME IT Symposium Program Chair

  • I was program chair for the Human Track session at the AWESOME IT symposium held in Amsterdam