Hello! I'm Senuri Wijenayake

I am an Associate Lecturer at the Design Lab of School of Architecture, Design and Planning at University of Sydney. I completed my PhD at the Human Computer Interactions (HCI) Lab of the University of Melbourne in 2021. I am passionate about all things HCI - and specifically Social Computing.

My research looks at how online social platforms i.e., learning platforms, social media networks, debating forums, etc., can be designed to discourage bad behaviours AND encourage prosocial behaviours - with the help of socio-psychological theories such as social conformity.
Please refer to my publications for more details.

In addition to research, I am excited about teaching and mentoring students. I have 3+ years of tutoring experience at the School of Computing and Information Systems and also volunteer as a motivational speaker at the Career Guidance Unit of University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. I have previously worked as a Full Stack Developer at 99X Technology, Sri Lanka leading a team of 20+ individuals developing “Tracified” - a product traceability solution.

Education

Jul 2018 - Dec 2021

Human-Computer Interaction Group, School of Computing and Information Systems
Supervisors: Dr. Jorge Goncalves and Prof. Vassilis Kostakos
Thesis: Understanding the Dynamics of Online Social Conformity
Social conformity has both positive and negative effects on how people behave and make decisions in online group settings. My research aims to quantify contextual and personal determinants of online conformity and inform how group settings can be designed accounting for conformity influences to ensure healthy online social interactions.

May 2013 - Oct 2017

Faculty of Information Technology

Highlights:

  • Most Outstanding Student of University of Moratuwa for year 2017, in recognition of the outstanding academic performance, contribution to research, voluntary work and extra-curricular activities.
  • Gold Medal for the best academic performance in the BSc. (Hons) Information Technology exams in 2017, with a GPA of 4.15 / 4.20.
  • Main Student Representative for Batch 12 in 2015/2016.

Jan 2009 - Aug 2011

GCE Advanced Level Examinations - Visakha Vidyalaya (Sri Lanka)
Stream : Physical Science
Results :

  • Physics : A
  • Combined Mathematics : B
  • Chemistry : B
  • English Language : A

Jan 2007 - Dec 2008

GCE Ordinary Level Examinations - Musaeus College (Sri Lanka)
Results : 9 Distinctions

Experience

Academic Tutor, University of MelbourneJan 2019 - Dec 2021

Software Engineer, Tracified - 99X TechnologyAug 2017 - Jun 2018

  • Designed and dveloped a traceability solution for e-commerce platforms selling premium products (e.g., organic food, gems) to provide transparency into their product’s journey from its origin to the marketplace (Watch demo video).
  • Winner of Gold Award in Retail and Supply Chain Management at the National Best Quality Software Awards (NBQSA) Sri Lanka in 2017.
  • Responsibilities :
    • Leading a 20+ team of Developers, UX Engineers and Quality Assurance Engineers and overseeing the scrum activities as the team's Scrum Master.
    • Full stack software development using AngularJs, CSS, HTML, TypeScript, Express, MongoDB.
    • Guiding the product engineering process from product designing to deployment.
    • Conducting on-site training of clients and compiling training manuals.
    • Communicating with clients for requirement gathering, customisations and troubleshooting.

Software Engineering Intern, PicaSix - 99X TechnologyMar 2016 - Sep 2016

  • Developed a web-based supply chain management system for PicaSix to combine and align processes of complex supply chains between importers, suppliers, production, wholesalers and end-consumers.
  • Responsibilities :
    • Full stack software development using AngularJs, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Ruby on Rails.
    • Implementing automated frontend testing using Protractor and compiled technical documentation for the setup.
    • Researching and deploying the server as a Docker container.
    • Experience in Scrum activities and communicating with Product Owner and client for requirement gathering, customisations and technical walk-throughs.

Undergraduate Developer, E-kilder - Embla SoftwareAug 2014 - May 2015

  • Developed an interactive website to digitise handwritten information of Norwegian church books through crowdsourcing and use that information to enable users to discover and graphically illustrate their family trees.
  • Responsibilities :
    • Full stack software development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C#, Entity Framework and SQL Server.
    • Leading a team of four other undergraduate developers.
    • Communicating with the Product Owner and the Business Analyst for requirement gathering, customisations and technical walk-throughs.

Publications

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

Research Projects

Identifying the Impact of Contextual and Personal Determinants on Online Social Conformity

This is the first user study related to my PhD thesis investigating online social conformity. The main objective of this experiment was to investigate how popular face-to-face conformity determinants impact conformity in online settings. We looked at how contextual determinants such as majority - minority group composition, and task objectivity, as well as subjective determinants like participant gender, self-confidence and personality traits influence conformity behaviour in an online quiz. See our paper for more details.

Code on GitHub:     Quiz Application     Server


Measuring Effects of Gender on Online Social Conformity

This study investigates the impact of majority - minority group gender composition, gendered user cues (names and avatars) and gender-typed questions, in triggering gender-stereotypical conformity in an online quiz. We observe that participants conformed to a majority consisting more men than women in stereotypically masculine questions, and a majority consisting more women than men in stereotypically feminine questions. The effect was also heightened when we used gendered avatars to represent users, than their first names.
See our paper for more details.

Code on GitHub:     Quiz Application     Server


Quantifying the Effect of Social Presence on Online Social Conformity

This study investigates how the perceived social presence facilitated in an online quizzing environment impacts online conformity behaviour. We manipulate social presence via interactivity (discussion vs. no discussion), response visibility (public vs. private answers) and user representation (generic vs. user-specific avatars). We observe that conformity is highest in the presence of peer discussions and public responses, and lowest when these aspects are absent, implying that higher social presence leads to higher online conformity. The “Confederates’ App” is used to simulate group discussions between four confederates and one participant in the experiment.
See our paper for more details.

Code on GitHub:   Quiz App     Confederates' App     Server

Teaching Experience

Unit Coordination

  • Design Programming (DECO1012 & IDEA9103) in 2022.
    • This unit provides an introduction to creative coding. It teaches an understanding of the fundamentals of computational thinking as well as skills in the design and implementation of software for creative expression and prototyping.
    • There are two variations of this course - DECO1012 (for undergradaute students) and IDEA9103 (for postgraduate students).
    • As the unit coordinator, I organise lectures and hands-on tutorials for 450+ students and am also the go-to person for all student queries - content related and otherwise.

Academic Tutoring

  • Social Computing (INFO90007) in 2020, 2021.
    • Conducting multiple online tutorials on Zoom for groups of 20 – 25 postgraduate students.
    • Developing rubrics for assessment evaluation and grading students assignments.
    • Supervising student projects.
    • Responding to student queries on discussion forums and posting subject related content in Canvas.
  • Evaluating the User Experience (INFO90004) in 2019, 2020, 2021.
    • Conducting online tutorials on Zoom for groups of 20 – 25 postgraduate students.
    • Conducting online consultation sessions for student groups to assist their group projects.
    • Assisting students conducting experiments at the HCI Lab involving Tobii eye trackers.
    • Responding to student queries on discussion forums and posting subject related content in Canvas.
  • Fundamentals of Interaction Design (INFO10003) in 2019.
    • Conducting multiple tutorials for groups of 20 – 25 undergraduate students.
    • Contributing towards marking student assignments and presentations for the subject.

Academic Mentorship

  • Mentor for PhD students under the "Help-a-Mate" initiative of School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne.
  • Students mentored under the postgraduate HCI Research Project (INFO90008).
    • Shangqian Li (2021) - Investigating the impact of social conformity on the dispersion of misinformation in social media.
    • Jo-lan Hu (2020) - Investigating social conformity in online group chatting environments.
  • Students mentored under the postgraduate Design Research Project (DESN9203).
    • Jiamu Lin (on going) - Using reminiscence exercise functions to improve cognition in elderly.

Exam Supervision

Certifications

Academic Services

Oragnising Committee Member

  • Social Media Co-chair for the Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2020 (@ozchiconf).

Student Volunteer

  • ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW’20).
  • CIS Doctoral Colloquium 2018 organised by the University of Melbourne.

Conference & Journal Paper Reviewer

  • ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)
  • ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW)
  • The Web Conference (WWW)
  • International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (INTERACT)
  • Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (OzCHI)
  • Computers in Human Behaviour (CHB)
  • Social Sciences & Humanities Open (SSHO)

Conference Participation

  • Presented a research paper at the 18th IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human–Computer Interaction (INTERACT'21)) in August 2021.  [talk]
  • Presented a research paper at the 23rd Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) in November 2020.  [talk]
  • Attended the Doctoral Consortium at the 23rd Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) in November 2020.  [talk]
  • Presented a position paper at the Workshop on Detection and Design for Cognitive Biases in People and Computing Systems at ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in April 2020.  [talk]
  • Presented two research papers at the 22nd Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) in October 2019.
  • Participated in the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) in September 2018.
  • Presented a research paper at the 25th Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS) in June 2018.
  • Presented a research paper at the 17th International Conference on Advances in ICT for Emerging Regions (ICTer) in September 2017.

Honors & Awards

Graduate Research Student of the Year 2021

Faculty of Engineering & IT, University of Melbourne

For the inspiration, innovation and support provided to FEIT community.

Excellence in Tutoring Award 2019

School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne

In recognition of an excellent contribution to tutoring at CIS.

Culture and Tourism Award

e-Swabhimani 2017

For the undergraduate research project TravelSL, a Facebook-based travel recommendation system.

Gold Award - Retail and Supply Chain Management

National Best Quality Software Awards 2017

For Tracified, a blockchain based traceability solution for premium products.

Gold Medal

Faculty of IT, University of Moratuwa

For achieving the Best Academic Performance in the Faculty of Information Technology to date, with a Grade Point Average of 4.15

Most Outstanding Student of Year 2017

University of Moratuwa

For the outstanding academic & research performance, voluntary work and extra-curricular activities.

Scholarships

Grants

Voluntary Work

Motivational Speaker & Mentor
May 2015 - Present

I have had the pleasure of conducting offline and online motivational sessions to high school and undergraduate students in Sri Lanka, to create awareness of the importance of higher education and opportunities available.

Secretary
Sri Lankan Graduates’ Society at University of MelbourneDec 2020 - Dec 2021

Committee Member (Media & Communication)
Sri Lankan Graduates’ Society at University of MelbourneMay 2019 - Dec 2020

  • The Sri Lankan Graduates’ Society (SLGS) is a postgraduate society affiliated to the Graduate Student Association (GSA) at University of Melbourne, Australia.
  • We are devoted to advocating the welfare of Sri Lankan Graduates students of the University of Melbourne. The SLGS also organises a plethora of cultural activities with the intention of introducing the Sri Lankan identity and heritage to the multicultural community of the university.

Editor in Chief - FIT Chronicle
Faculty of Information Technology, University of MoratuwaJan 2015 - Aug 2017

  • FIT Chronicle - the academic magazine of the Faculty of IT, University of Moratuwa - is the outcome of combined effort from the faculty and students, where I had the privilege of working together with an extremely committed editorial team, to revamp the magazine with a dash of life and pride.
  • Under my leadership, the FIT Chronicle brought the spotlight onto faculty events, academic programs, student achievements, student extracurricular activities with a new addition of a “students’ corner” to exhibit composing talents and artistic insight of FIT students.

  • See FIT Chronicle:   2015 Edition   2016 Edition
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