Sam VanHorn


My name is Sam! I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to NYC at 17, where I earned my BA and MA in research psychology with a focus on human behavior. I have my PhD from Emory, where I focused on UX research and accessibility, and started the university’s first-ever initiative devoted to undergraduates and disability, known as the “Undergraduate Disability Studies Initiative.” In my free time you can probably find me doing one of three things: 1) Baking! 2) Perpetually organizing and cleaning. 3) Playing with my dog, Jake! @AtlantaDog  Whenever people ask me about what my politics are, I answer by saying “accessibility!” I like figuring things out. I love knowing that sometimes there’s more than one “right” answer. And I love working with my hands! While I’m quite crafty, I don’t identify as an artist. I do identify as a researcher, and one of my favorite things to do is getting out there and puzzling things together. I’m organized and strategic, so sketching layouts and templates is really fun for me. I value input from my peers—especially when it comes to coding. I love talking things out with people. I find that writing is also really important for both UX and coding—for example, it’s my view that an app won’t be accessible if it can’t explained in an accessible fashion. Can someone benefit from your code if your README file is lacking or incomplete? Possibly. But would the experience be more accessible and enjoyable if this step was more thoroughly documented? Totally! One reason I am so passionate about UX is because I’m passionate about accessibility, and in order to be most successful at that, collaboration and diversity in thought and execution is essential. I also love that tech isn’t static! Part of identifying as a researcher is also recognizing that learning doesn’t stop. As an intellectually curious person, I want to constantly learn more, so knowing that there are new things around every corner is both exciting and motivating.

Sam's Session

What’s missing? A narrative UX approach to understanding body image among women who identify as lesbian