Dr. Leah Zhang-Kennedy

Assistant Professor (she/her)

Leah Zhang-Kennedy, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in interaction design and user experience research, a member of the Games Institute and the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute. She directs the Safe Interactions Lab at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, University of Waterloo.

Zhang-Kennedy’s research aims to understand and improve people’s digital experiences, knowledge, and technology practices, with particular focuses on computer security, online privacy, and digital literacy. Her research bridges multidisciplinary expertise in human-computer interaction (HCI), computer science, and graphic design. As people’s interactions with technology become more complex and further embedded into everyday life, it is necessary to take people’s experiences with technology and their behaviours into account and to study the security and privacy implications of those interactions. In addition, technology design needs to be human-centric in order to be useful and usable by a variety of people, including non-technical users, experts, persons living with disabilities, children, and older adults. Professor Zhang-Kennedy aims to develop usable, safe, and engaging technology that results in a positive user experience.

In teaching user experience design and research, Zhang-Kennedy believes in integrating methods and analytical frameworks from multiple disciplines to examine a topic and study the forces at play in technology, behaviour, and user experience. As technology changes rapidly, UX design and research will inevitably evolve with it. She is excited to share what she has learned with her students. As young people are the next generation of users and technologists, she hopes her students will have something to teach her as well.

Courses Taught

  • GBDA 101: Introduction to Digital Media Design
  • GBDA 103/210: Introduction to User Experience Design
  • GBDA 205: Quantitative Methods
  • GBDA 228: Digital Imaging for Online Applications
  • GBDA 302: Global Digital Project 2
  • GBDA 310: Advanced User Experience Design and Research
  • GBDA 401/402: Cross-Cultural Digital Business (Capstone)
  • GBDA 403: Extended ePortfolio I
  • GBDA 414: Special Topics in Interaction Design


  • Ph.D. (Computer Science), Carleton University, 2017
  • MASc. (Human-Computer Interaction), Carleton University, 2013
  • BDes. (Design), York University, 2007

Research and Teaching Interests

  • User experience
  • Human-centric privacy and security
  • Human-computer interaction

Other Interests

In her spare time, Leah likes to reconnect with her roots in art and design. She specializes in creating hand-made marbled papers and medieval limp-bindings.