Thanks a Latte

Bonnie Jiang brews appreciation for the opportunity to pursue dual master’s degrees

Every morning, Bonnie Jiang indulges herself in a relaxing, almost religious, ritual of coffee making.

The tender touch of tiny beans. The sweet, stress-relieving smell of steam. The relaxing rhythmic dripping. She could go more than two weeks without using the same pot.

“I have 15 coffee makers,” Jaing said. “You name it. Moka Pots. Espresso Machine. Chemex. I’m a coffee maniac.”

Her favorite coffee is black, straight, hand poured. She averages three-four cups a day.

Designing Woman
Jiang, 25, needs the extra caffeine boost to fuel her passion in pursuit of two Master of Science degrees simultaneously in University of Michigan’s Design Science program in Integrative Science + Design and School of Information. She started at ISD in 2019 and plans to graduate with MSI degrees in Information Human Computer Interaction and MS Design Science in December 2021. 

Her research focuses are product design, design for social impact, and UX (User Experience) research. She is passionate about using her design and UX research knowledge to empower marginalized communities with accessible products and services. As such, in summer 2020, she started an ISD joint UMSI research project to study power differentials in the co-design process with marginalized communities under the guidance of Dr. Panos Papalambros, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Kentaro Toyama, Professor, School of Information, and Mustafa Naseem, Clinical Assistant Professor, Information, School of Information.

“We’re developing best practices to work with different communities,” she said. “And to help facilitators empower stakeholders through the most appropriate design practices.”

Jiang is proud of her work with U-M’s SuccessConnects, a program to connect undergraduate students with graduate students for mentoring opportunities. Everyone Jiang has mentored is planning to attend a U-M graduate program or enroll in an internship next year. 

“I think about the opportunities I have been given,” she said. “I’m privileged to study two master’s programs. Choosing that as a woman is rare for a lot of us. It inspires me to think about what more I can do.”

Design with Purpose
Over the last few years, Jiang has gained excellent design skills at ISD while working for several companies. 

Most recently, she is a Research Assistant at Optimal Design Lab at U-M. 

Previously, she was a UX Researcher Intern at Amplitude in San Francisco, Web Designer in the Multidisciplinary Design Program in U-M’s College of Engineering and a student project UX Researcher at Gale – Cengage Learning in Farmington Hills.

Leader and Best
Earlier this year, Jiang was named as the recipient of the 2021 ISD Leadership Award for DEI. This award is given to an ISD student or team of students who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by participating in efforts that promote or celebrate DEI within the ISD community and have a passion to foster a climate of care and acceptance.

“I believe every non-design professional can benefit from a design mindset,” she said. “My goal is to use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to solve challenging problems.”

Jimmy Liao Fan
Growing up in Chongqing, China, Jiang became a fan of author-illustrator Jimmy Liao. He would write poems and short stories and accompany them with his illustrations. She loved to read them and practice illustrating her own stories near her home on the banks of the Yangzi River.

“He was a big influence,” she said. 

In 2011, Jiang moved to Toledo, Ohio, as an international exchange student to explore her dream of illustrating as well as learning the science and math side of design. In 2015, she graduated from high school and started her undergraduate studies in U-M’s Stamps School of Art and Design. In 2017, she earned the Michigan William Carter Award at U-M.

Life-Changing Experience
In summer 2017, Jiang took advantage of an opportunity to study abroad in Denmark. The three-month experience changed her career trajectory, forever.

“It had a huge impact on me,” she said. “It helped me decide what I really wanted to do in life. I became interested in the front end of product design to do research and understand people.” 

During the winter 2018 semester, her newfound passion was reinforced in Professor Nick Tobier’s class, Change by Design. 

“I realized in this class it is not about what I want to make,” she said. “It’s about engagement, community design, user research. Looking more broader and interdisciplinary.”

She graduated in May 2019 with a BFA in Art in Design, earning an Industrial Design Scholarship, Stephen I. Markel Scholarship, Huang Family Scholarship, and Tung-Li and Hui-Hsi Yuan Award to attend graduate school at U-M. 

Scholarly Pursuit
Her hobbies are bullet journaling, which is more like a planning journal for her, jewelry design, woodworking, and cooking. She loves to make hand-pulled noodles with chili oil and minced pork.

Her goal in life is to travel the world and become a university professor. 

“I’d like to engage in more international research,” she said. “My ideal job title is User Experience Researcher.”