Design, Research, & Strategy
Cognitive Scientist

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I'm Ali, and I solve problems.

I design products to meet user needs and business goals. My approach is fueled by experience in cognitive science & behavioral research.

Case Studies

Some of my work, with process & strategy

About me

I design products to meet user needs and business goals. My approach is fueled by experience in cognitive science & behavioral research. Before I studied design at Design Lab's UX Academy, I got a PhD in Neuroscience and spent a few years as faculty in Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. My research specialty was brain imaging of neural networks associated with cognition & emotion.

Things I learned about design as a behavioral neuroscience researcher:
1. How to figure out which problem is important enough to solve, why it's important, and how to communicate it’s significance to an interested audience and to decision-making stakeholders

2. Which questions to ask to solve the problem, and which answers are important

3. How to find the reasons underlying those answers, and how to relate those reasons to the problem being solved

4. How to turn observations into practical solutions 

5. How to supervise without authority, how to mentor as a manager, and how to collaborate when everyone has equal say

How does all that translate into being a designer?
I have broad training as a UX generalist, and can deliver quality work across the UX spectrum, from product & design strategy, to information architecture & interaction design, through visual design & branding. The skills I developed as a researcher have enabled me to really shine as a UX researcher & product strategist, and to understand the real value of product design (a well-designed product has little significance if it’s not solving somebody’s problem). My experience has also translated into knowing when to ask which questions and how to structure research process into a project timeline (it’s usually best to tackle big conceptual problems up front, and target smaller well-defined questions within a sprint timeframe).  

If science is so great, why the change?
I enjoyed behavioral research, but was spending most of my time seeking project funding instead of actually “doing science”. This was likely to become increasingly untenable with reductions in federal research funding, so I began exploring data & tech fields, and discovered UX & product design. I had an epiphany-like moment when realized that this field spoke to both my analytical & creative drives that have always fueled my work (baby, where’ve you been all my life?!), and was something that I could happily throw all of my passions at.

View my resume


Some thoughts on research & design

When I'm not Designing

I spend my free time pursuing creativity in apparel design, architectural modeling, coding, and even some print design. 

Just for fun - test your knowledge of RGB color codes with the "color game" I built in Javascript!