My name is Ruanqianqian Huang, and I normally go by Lisa. I’m excited by programming languages (PL), human-computer interaction (HCI), and cognitive science.

I’m a PhD student studying Computer Science at UC San Diego in the Programming Systems Group advised by Sorin Lerner. Before coming to UCSD, I obtained my B.A. in Computer Science and Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences from Wellesley College near Boston, MA, where I worked extensively with Franklyn Turbak on PL and HCI.

See Fun for my life outside of computer science.


I design and develop programming tools. I do not have a specific research area, but an overall research vision: I hope to improve human <-> human communication, the main media of which are computers, specifically programming tools. Such communication can be subdivided into two categories, each coming with questions I aim to address:

  1. Tool Designer-to-User Communication. How should the designer of a programming tool (languages, interfaces, etc.) effectively communicate their design intent and the capabilities of the tool to the user, so that the tool is learnable and usable? What needs to be done so that the users’ needs are taken into consideration during the design and development of the tool?

  2. Programmer-to-Programmer Communication. What needs to be done in a programming tool such that it helps a programmer understand code written by the others (including machines)?

To that end, I adopt the human-centered approach to design programming environments:

  • I use evidence from cognitive science to derive the design space of a programming tool; and
  • I work with potential users of a programming tool to fine tune the design space and to iterate on existing designs.

Recent Projects

Please refer to the Projects tab for a full list of my projects (and a flavor for the kind of research I’m interested in).