HCI, CSCW, Labor, Social Computing
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University.
I study how technologies shape workers' identities & practices,
designing ways to improve their work outcomes in the United States and globally. I take a mixed-methods approach. You can read my work in leading conferences, including CHI, CSCW, ICTD, & COMPASS. All of my research has been generously funded by Engaged, Einaudi, and Mozilla grants.
I also actively mentor under-resourced students and provide research assistance for leading non-profits. Please feel free to send me an email at varanasi[dot]r at nyu [dot] edu.
Dec'23: Registration chair for ACM GROUP'25.
Nov'23: Finished my PhD! You can read my dissertation here.
Jul'23: New paper at COMPASS'23 around post-pandemic teacher support. My first as a mentor!
Apr'23: New postdoc position at NYU Tandon School from Jan. New chapter!
Feb'23: Gave invited talk at the department of Informatics, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)
Jan'23: New publication @CHI'23 around Responsible AI challenges encountered by practitioners in big tech.
Oct'22: Received the prestigious DLI fellowship.
Apr'22: Will be working as student research intern at Google in responsible AI team starting this summer.
Mar'22: Received honorable mention for our CHI'22 paper around women crowd workers.
Personal technologies, such as smartphones and social media, have become highly affordable and widespread in the Global South. Employers in various professions within the Global South are leveraging these versatile technologies to address resource limitations in their work environments. Specifically, in the context of the Indian teaching profession, where my dissertation is focused, school management and educational technology organizations promote these personal tools to offset the dearth of educational resources, provide in-service training, and aid marginalized students. This dissertation, through mixed-methods action research, systematically investigates the sociotechnical ecosystem in which personal devices become work instruments and examines how they transform teacher’s labor. I show how management pushes the use of smartphones through ambiguous top-down directives, directly influencing teachers’ identities and shaping their work. I highlight the challenges such integrations bring into teachers’ work lives as they balance their identities and responsibilities. Despite teacher efforts, smartphones blurred the boundaries between personal and work, thereby diluting their identities and rendering their practices either highly visible or completely invisible to management. These work transformations contributed to technostress and harmed occupational well-being. In order to improve the occupational lives of teachers, I leveraged a participatory-based design approach to identify on-ground practices that teachers seek to maintain their well-being at work. Drawing upon these insights, I designed a sociotechnical intervention that provides contextualized and collective social support to vulnerable teachers, thereby improving their well-being. Taken together, my dissertation illuminates the potential for personal technologies to alter professional landscapes significantly and contribute to detrimental impacts when introduced without concrete guidelines. Ultimately, it offers practical solutions to mitigate these resulting issues.