Dr. Nadya Shalamova
A champion for MSOE’s University Innovation Fellows and self-described “user experience” evangelist—Dr. Nadya Shalamova began cultivating a fascination with technology, design and science early in life. “I was always interested in why something exists, or works a certain way,” she said.
Shalamova was born in a small Siberian village where her great-grandparents had been exiled in the late 1920s during the Stalinist regime. When she was 7, her family moved to Tomsk, an educational, cultural and scientific center in Russia.
“My mother was an accomplished physics teacher,” Shalamova said. “I learned from her the importance of explaining complex information in an accessible and entertaining way.”
Shalamova earned a graduate degree in linguistics and worked for several years in the Laboratory of Siberian Indigenous Language at Tomsk Polytechnic University where she conducted linguistic and anthropological research on one of the endangered (now extinct) native Siberian dialects. At the same time, she taught linguistics and ESL to engineering students.
In 2001, she received a Carnegie Fellowship that brought her to the United States. That’s when she first learned about technical communication. She decided to pursue her Ph.D. from New Mexico State University where she was heavily involved in the Freshman Integrated Learning Community Project at the College of Engineering. “I taught a professional communication course designed for engineering students and served as their academic advisor,” she said.
In 2008 Shalamova came to MSOE. She is currently the director of the User Experience program and an associate professor in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Communication Department.
“User experience (UX) is the field of designing user-friendly digital products, services and systems,” she said. “The way a digital project looks and feels, the way it works, and how it fits into the environment in which it is used are all the result of UX design. I’ve become a UX evangelist because good UX makes technology not only enjoyable, but also accessible to everyone—regardless of age, ability or identity.”
During the last year, Shalamova also became an advisor to MSOE’s University Innovation Fellows. She lists the Fellows among those who most inspire her. “Every time I work with the UIFs I learn something new,” she said. “I am impressed and fascinated by their ideas. Their desire to make MSOE (and the world) a better place, their energy, self- determination and sense of humor are contagious. They are true agents of change at MSOE. I hope they never lose their sense of wonder.”
As a CREATE Faculty Fellow, Shalamova strongly believes in the initiative’s mission to engage students in active, experiential and applied learning. “I think these practices allow students to learn and develop many valuable skills such as collaboration, community engagement, servant-leadership, and value creation in their professional and personal life.”
CREATE puts a strong emphasis in developing curiosity in students, said Shalamova. “Staying curious opens endless possibilities for learning and for recognizing new opportunities when others are not able to see them.”
But Shalamova adds that curiosity alone is not enough when you’re trying to be entrepreneurial, innovative and creative. “I think it is incredibly important that CREATE emphasizes the importance of making connections between different fields of knowledge,” she said.
When she is not working, Shalamova enjoys biking and hockey games, watching British TV and catching up on her reading by listening to Audible. “I also follow Dr. Lee Berger’s team research of Homo naledi, a new human species discovered in 2013 in a South African cave.”