May 2020

University of Colorado Boulder Ph.D., Computer Science

  • Dissertation: The Crisis Informatics of Online Hurriane Risk Communication (PDF; also see video of defense, Dec. 13, 2019)
  • Committee: Leysia Palen (advisor, chair), Kenneth M. Anderson, Julie L. Demuth, Brian C. Keegan, Clayton Lewis
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow, 2016–2019

May 2017

University of Colorado Boulder M.S., Computer Science

June 2014

Santa Clara University B.S., Computer Science and Engineering

  • Senior thesis: Text To Learn: A Digital Training System for Global Social Enterprises (PDF; awarded “Best of Session”)
  • Graduated cum laude

Fall 2012

University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Study abroad, School of Informatics

Professional & Research Experience

July 2020–present

Yahoo, Boulder, CO, USA (remote)

User Experience Researcher, contracted via Freed Vance Research Group

August 2015–December 2019

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

Graduate Research Assistant and NSF Graduate Research Fellow

  • Conducted empirical research to analyze people’s social media communications during disaster events using log and multimedia data analysis, interviews, and statistical analysis.
  • Led and collaborated with interdisciplinary teams of researchers across universities, national laboratories, and NOAA for research and development of meteorological products.
  • Wrote papers and presented findings at premier international HCI conferences (CHI, CSCW).

May–August 2018

Yahoo, Sunnyvale, CA, USA

User Experience Research Intern, Yahoo Mail

  • Led multi-method user research study for Yahoo! Mail to understand people’s online shopping and e-commerce behaviors as they relate to email use. Methods used include log data analysis, surveys, and interviews.
  • Conducted weekly in-lab user studies: wrote protocols for mobile and web prototypes, conducted studies, wrote detailed findings reports, and delivered findings to product team.
  • Research paper based on this work accepted to Yahoo’s internal technical conference, TechPulse 2018 (7% acceptance).

June–September 2017

Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, USA

Research Intern, Business AI Design & Ethics group

  • Conducted research project on estimating demographic biases in unlabeled weblog datasets using data visualizations and open data from the US Census.

June–July 2015

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan


  • Developed an interactive, web-based data visualization interface in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, called RendezView, for structuring geo-referenced social media data.

Feb. – Dec. 2013

Santa Clara University Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Anudip Foundation, Kolkata, India and Santa Clara, CA, USA

Global Social Benefit Fellow

  • Conducted research for social enterprises Anudip and iMerit as part of this 9 month, academic action research fellowship including seven weeks of field work in Kolkata, India.
  • Developed curriculum and instructed women in HTML/CSS in a semi-rural iMerit center in Metiabruz.

June–August 2012

Qualcomm Incorporated, San Diego, CA, USA

Interim Engineering Intern

  • Developed automated Android system and graphics performance benchmark tests in Perl and Java.
  • Improved efficiency by reducing time needed to perform tests and analyze results.


Archival, Peer-Reviewed Conference Papers

Frank Bentley, Max Silverman, and Melissa Bica. 2019. Exploring Online Video Watching Behaviors. In Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video (TVX '19). (PDF, HTML, DOI)

Melissa Bica, Julie L. Demuth, James E. Dykes, and Leysia Palen. 2019. Communicating Hurricane Risks: Multi-Method Examination of Risk Imagery Diffusion. In Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '19, Glasgow, UK). (PDF, DOI, video)

Frank Bentley, Katie Quehl, Jordan Wirfs-Brock, and Melissa Bica. 2019. Understanding Online News Behaviors. In Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI '19, Glasgow, UK). (PDF, DOI)

Melissa Bica, Leysia Palen, and Chris Bopp. 2017. Visual Representations of Disaster. In Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW ‘17, Portland, OR, USA). (PDF, DOI)

Jennings Anderson, Marina Kogan, Melissa Bica, Leysia Palen, Kenneth M. Anderson, Kevin Stowe, Rebecca Morss, Julie Demuth, Heather Lazrus, Olga Wilhelmi, and Jen Henderson. 2016. Far Far Away in Far Rockaway: Responses to Risks and Impacts during Hurricane Sandy through First-Person Social Media Narratives. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM ‘16). (PDF)

Kyoung-Sook Kim, Melissa Bica, Isao Kojima, and Hirotaka Ogawa. 2015. RendezView: Look at Meanings of an Encounter Region over Local Social Flocks. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on GeoStreaming. (PDF, DOI)

Journal Articles

Melissa Bica, Joy Weinberg, and Leysia Palen. 2020. Achieving Accuracy through Ambiguity: the Interactivity of Risk Communication in Severe Weather Events. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 29, 5: 587-623. (PDF, DOI)

Julie L. Demuth, Rebecca E. Morss, Leysia Palen, Kenneth M. Anderson, Jennings Anderson, Marina Kogan, Kevin Stowe, Melissa Bica, Heather Lazrus, Olga Wilhelmi, and Jen Henderson. 2018. "Sometimes da #beachlife ain't always da wave": Understanding People’s Evolving Hurricane Risk Communication, Risk Assessments, and Responses Using Twitter Narratives. Weather, Climate, and Society 10, 3 (July 2018): 537-560. (PDF, DOI)

Rebecca E. Morss, Julie L. Demuth, Heather Lazrus, Leysia Palen, C. Michael Barton, Christopher A. Davis, Chris Snyder, Olga V. Wilhelmi, Kenneth M. Anderson, David A. Ahijevych, Jennings Anderson, Melissa Bica, Kathryn R. Fossell, Jennifer Henderson, Marina Kogan, Kevin Stowe, and Joshua Watts. 2017. Hazardous Weather Prediction and Communication in the Modern Information Environment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 98, 12 (December 2017): 2653–2674. (PDF, DOI)

Non-Archival Workshop Papers, Posters, and Essays

Melissa Bica, Jennifer Henderson, Jennifer Spinney, Leysia Palen, Erik Nielsen, Russ Schumacher, Julie Demuth, Rebecca Morss. 2019. Twitter in the Eye of the Storm: Examining Social Media Use for Overcoming Constraints in a Multi-Hazard Hurricane. Presented at Fall 2019 VORTEX Southeast Workshop. Huntsville, AL. September 12, 2019. [Poster]

Melissa Bica. 2019. Twitter in the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Public’s Risk Perceptions. Published in the "Chancing the Storm" series in SSRC Items. [Essay]

Melissa Bica. 2019. Human-Centered Data Science for Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Research. Workshop on Human-Centered Study of Data Science Work Practices at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘19). [Workshop Paper]

Melissa Bica. 2018. Sensemaking Around Visual Hurricane Risk Messaging. Workshop on Sensemaking in a Senseless World at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘18). [Workshop Paper]

Melissa Bica. 2017. Visual Representations of Disaster: Analysis of Disaster-Related Online Imagery. Presented at CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop. Washington, D.C. April 7-8, 2017. [Poster]

Melissa Bica and Jennings Anderson. 2016. “You Are What You Tweet!” The Ethics of (Re) Publishing Public Data as Crafted Narratives. Workshop on Ethical Encounters in HCI Research at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘16). [Workshop Paper]

Melissa Bica and Kyoung-Sook Kim. 2015. RendezView: An Interactive Visual Mining Tool for Discerning Flock Relationships in Social Media Data. Presented at International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC ‘15). Austin, TX. November 16, 2015. [Poster + Extended Abstract]

Invited Presentations & Panels

Melissa Bica. 2019. Sensemaking Around Visual Hurricane Risk Messaging. Presented at INFORMS Annual Meeting. Seattle, WA. October 21, 2019.

Melissa Bica. 2019. Panelist, Integrated Science: Challenges and Opportunities. Presented at NCAR/UCAR Advanced Study Program Colloquium: Quantifying and Communicating Uncertainty in High-Impact Weather Prediction. Boulder, CO. July 25, 2019.

Melissa Bica. 2019. Panelist, The Other Uncertainty: Social, Political, and Cultural Forms of Uncertainty in Weather Contexts. Presented at American Meteorological Society 99th Annual Meeting. Phoenix, AZ. January 7, 2019. (Link to audio-recorded panel; my talk starts at 31:12.)

Press Coverage

“Twitter could be confusing people who need crucial hurricane information.” Ashley Michels. KDVR FOX31 Denver. September 11, 2018.

“Graduate Makes Waves in Data Mining.” Jenni Sigl. The Santa Clara. January 6, 2016.

“Mining social media to manage crises.” Sam Stalion. Science Node. December 2, 2015.

Teaching Experience

University of Colorado Boulder

Oct. 2015

Guest Lecturer for CSCI 4830: HCC Big Data Computing

Aug. 2014 – May 2015

Teaching Assistant for CSCI 1300: Introduction to Programming

Santa Clara University

May 23, 2018

Guest Lecturer for COEN 100: Undergraduate Research Seminar


Programming Languages & Tools

  • Python, HTML/CSS/JS, R, MATLAB, MongoDB, Jupyter Notebook, Tableau, QGIS


  • Quantitative/qualitative data analysis, visual content analysis, surveys, interviews, ethnographic observation, think-alouds, cognitive walkthroughs, personas/user stories


June 2016

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

April 2015

Open Science Data Cloud Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) Fellowship

October 2014

Graduate Student Research Community Development Award

AY 2014 – 2015

Dean’s Fellowship (CU Boulder)

AY 2013 – 2014

Dean’s List (Santa Clara University)

May 2014

Senior Design Presentation Session Award (Santa Clara University)

April 2014

IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference Scholarship

April 2014

Upsilon Pi Epsilon Computing and Information Honor Society

November 2013

Willem P. Roelandts and Maria Constantino-Roelandts Grant

October 2013

Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society

July 2013

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Scholarship

February 2013

Global Social Benefit Fellowship

May 2012

Cisco-SCU Engineering Fellowship

April 2011

Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Scholarship

Academic Service


  • HKS Misinformation Review
  • Human–Computer Interaction
  • ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)
  • ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW)
  • International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • ACM Transactions on Information Systems
  • International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM)
  • Weather, Climate and Society


  • Mentored undergraduate researcher for CU Boulder’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (2019)
  • Mentored 8 undergraduate researchers for the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship (Spring 2016)

Student Volunteering

  • CHI 2016–2018
  • International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC15)

Professional Membership

ACM, ACM-W, ACM Special Interest Group Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), Colorado Virtual Operations Support Team (COVOST)