Studios User Research > Team Bios


Randy Pagulayan, Director of User Research
Daniel V. Gunn, Senior User Research Operations Lead
Tracey Sellar Fuller, Senior User Research Lead
Tim Nichols, Senior User Research Lead
Carl Anselmi, Senior User Research Ops PM
Jerome Hagen, Senior User Researcher
Bruce Phillips, Senior User Researcher

Chuck Harrison, Senior User Researcher
JJ Guajardo, Senior User Researcher
Deborah Hendersen, User Researcher

Sean Baron, User Researcher
Adam Greenberg, User Researcher
Travis Bowles, Senior User Researcher
Todd A. Kelley, User Researcher
Chris LeFeaver, User Researcher Lead (Vancouver)

Karl Steiner, Senior User Research Lead (London)
Sophie McDaid, Ethnographer (Dublin)
Aaron Fulmer, Research Operations PM

Deanne Adams, User Researcher

Jessie Thomas, User Researcher

Melissa Boone, User Researcher




Randy Pagulayan, Ph.D.

Director of User Research



Randy Pagulayan is one of the first pioneers of the games user research discipline. He leads a team of nearly 50 staff at the forefront of interactive entertainment experiences and is a member of the Microsoft User Experience Leadership team. At Microsoft, Randy has led user research efforts on numerous blockbuster video games and top tier franchises, including Age of Empires, and Halo. He also has co-authored book chapters on user-centered design in games and testing methodologies, given numerous talks and keynotes internationally, has been featured in a cover story in Wired (Halo 3: How Microsoft Labs Invented a New Science of Play, Sept, 2007), interviewed on National Public Radio, and most recently was part of the OXM feature, The Xbox Science Machine (Official Xbox Magazine, May 2014).

Before joining Microsoft, Randy was part of the Human Factors Group at Motorola, and has been published in several scientific journals, including Journal of Experimental Psychology, Brain Research Bulletin, and Human Movement Science. Randy has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cincinnati.



Daniel V. Gunn, Ph.D.

Senior User Research Operations Lead



Daniel V. Gunn is a Senior User Research Operations Lead within Studios User Research. His team is responsible for driving the Tech & Facilities, People & Process, and Tools & Infrastructure that empower User Researchers to carry out world-class User Research. Daniel’s background is firmly seated in psychological research methods, statistics, and human behavior. In fact, he has taught several college psychology courses on the topics – Research Methods in Psychology, Statistics, and Psychology of Learning. Daniel received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Human Factors from the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 2002.

Daniel has presented at several Human Factors related conferences and has published in the American Journal of Psychology as well as Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. In addition, he has co-authored articles and book chapters on the methodologies utilized within Studios User Research to improve games in development. His title work at Microsoft Studios has been on the Forza Motorsport series as well as PC titles such as Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends and Viva Piñata PC.

Daniel’s favorite foods have remained relatively stable over the past 3 decades: pizza, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and two sons, playing his guitar, playing games, and watching movies.



Tracey Sellar Fuller

Senior User Research Lead



Tracey Sellar is a Senior User Research Lead at Microsoft Studios, leading strategic research across the games and entertainment portfolio. She has managed user research for numerous franchises, including Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Fable, Crackdown, Microsoft Flight and Kinect Sports. Before joining Microsoft, Tracey was the founder and Director of the User Experience Lab - a games user research consultancy based in New Zealand.

In addition to games, Tracey has conducted user research on a range of products including websites, productivity software, videoconferencing systems, and large interactive display technologies. Prior to getting into technology, she ran a dance company, worked as a professional dancer, and held various roles in the arts industry.

Tracey has completed three years of her PhD, exploring new research strategies and methods for evaluating game user experience. She also holds a Bachelor of Business (Honors) in Information Technology, a Diploma in Contemporary Dance, and a Black Tab in Karate. In her spare time, she collects mid-century modern furniture and contemporary art, and enjoys painting, photography and boxing.



Tim Nichols, Ph.D.

Senior User Research Lead



Tim Nichols joined SUR in 2006 and spent his first few years responsible for user research on core gaming titles including Mass Effect and Ninja Gaiden 2. He was a part of the early Kinect user research effort, conducting research on two Kinect launch titles (Kinectimals and Dance Central) and contributing to several other launch titles and research projects. In 2011, he moved into a lead role, overseeing research on multiple Kinect, XBLA, and Win8 titles.

Currently, he and his team focus on UX for a variety of entertainment and lifestyle experiences for unannounced Microsoft platforms. While video games remain a personal hobby, he’s most passionate about understanding technology’s role in satisfying fundamental human needs like connecting with others, personal growth, escapism, and showing off pictures of their awesome dogs.

Tim received his PhD in engineering psychology from Georgia Tech, which is widely recognized as the Princeton of the South. Approximately 2,999,996 more people played the first game he shipped than read his dissertation.



Carl Anselmi

Senior User Research Lab Ops PM



Carl Anselmi has been part of Usability support at Microsoft since 1996 playing a primary role in the build, operations, and support of the Studios User Research labs. He joined Studios User Research in 2002 to support the labs and has been involved in managing them ever since. In 2008, he officially joined the SUR team to manage the lab business as well as build out several of their new testing facilities on the Studios West campus. His responsibilities include overseeing the various facilities and adapting new technologies to help improve and grow the Research business that are state of the art in the User Research community. He is involved in driving new test technologies and environments and continues to push the limits of testing support that is required by a mature User Research team.



Jerome Hagen

Senior User Researcher



Jerome Hagen started working on the Studios User Research team all the way back in the pre-XBox, pre-broadband days of 1998. Since then, he’s supported several platform launches and worked on franchises including Fable, Project Gotham Racing, Crackdown, Gears of War, and Halo.



Bruce Phillips, Ph.D.

Senior User Researcher



Bruce Phillips joined the Microsoft Game Studios User Research group in 2001 and has worked on a wide variety of games and franchises. In recent years, Bruce has been particularly interested in counting things, visualizing things, and applying machine learning to software development. Prior to Microsoft Bruce received a BA in Psychology from Carleton University and a Ph.D. from the University of Victoria. It’s all been cake and hand grenades.



Chuck Harrison, M.A.

Senior User Researcher



Chuck Harrison is a user researcher that joined the group in 2005. During his Studios tenure, Chuck has helped ship some of Xbox Live Arcade’s most successful titles, some web-based games, and retail hits such as Halo Wars, Alan Wake and Gears of War.


Chuck has 20 years of user research experience ranging from consumer products to back office and business applications. Before joining Microsoft, Chuck worked at several other high tech companies such as Siebel, BMC, Intel, Netscape, and Amazon. Over the years, Chuck has presented research at several HCI and game related conferences and has published researched focused articles and book chapters. Chuck has a BS in Human Factors from the University of Idaho, an MA in Engineering Psychology from New Mexico State University and an MBA from the University of Houston.


In his off hours, Chuck spends his time with his wife and four boys running, snowboarding, coaching youth wrestling, playing various team sports, and of course – “researching” games.



JJ Guajardo, Ph.D.

Senior User Researcher



JJ Guajardo has over 11 years of experience as a User Researcher. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern University, he received his PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2002. Instead of pursuing a career in academics, JJ came to Microsoft to work on Xbox games (a wise choice). Following his stint in the gaming world, he worked with a number of products at Microsoft, including Encarta and Office for Mac. From 2007-2009, JJ lived and worked in Copenhagen, Denmark, conducting user research for Microsoft Dynamics. In 2009, he returned to the US and spent 2 years working in the Windows design and research group. But in 2011, the sweet voice of the gaming world called him back to Studios User Research. Since his return, JJ's worked on a number of kid-focused products, non-game entertainment efforts, as well as providing Turn 10 studio (Forza) support.



Deborah Hendersen, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Deborah Hendersen is interested in what people do with their minds for fun, which for her falls into two general categories: narratives & gaming. She earned a BA at Reed College after waiting till the last possible second to declare for Psychology (rather than English), swayed by the thrill of falsifiability. She then moved to Stanford University where she earned a PhD in Cognitive Psychology, asking such questions as: Does it matter if the book you are reading is fiction or nonfiction? (Yes.) Why don’t adults have imaginary friends? (Never mind, they do.) And, why are kids afraid of monsters under the bed, even when they know they are imaginary? (A lack of inhibitory control.)

She joined Studios User Research in January of 2011, and has worked on games as varied as Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater, Undead Lab’s State of Decay, and Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome. She is interested in the development of new methods and has presented on how to best test with kids as young as three (Gamefest, 2011), and has generated and discussed new methods for testing game narrative at both GDC (2014) and the GUR Summit (2014). Most recently she presented at PAX Prime 2014 (the “One Weird Trick” panel), and was at SIEGE in October, 2014.



Sean Baron, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Sean Baron joined Studios User Research in early 2012 just prior to earning his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Princeton University. His graduate work focused on understanding how our brains process faces, social information, and create novel conceptual representations. Some residual passion about these topics remains, so if you want to ask him about faces or about the difference between categories and concepts he’d be happy to talk your ear off.



Adam Greenberg

User Researcher



Adam Greenberg is a Washington native who went to UW for both undergrad (psychology and physics) and grad school (cognitive psychology). At Microsoft, he’s been focused largely on understanding new populations and building new interaction models (especially Kinect, working with kids, and working with kids and Kinect simultaneously). Before working with the Studios group, he spent a couple of years revolutionizing the world with the 2-D aspects of NUIs at Surface (the very-large form factor version), and before that he was researching the processing of subliminal information across different levels of information complexity. He's a minor international music critic, one of the last devotees of the proper American road trip, and has been known to spend too much time talking about ancient Greece in any given context.

With the Studios group, he's worked on titles including Dance Central, Kinectimals, Kinect Funlabs, Happy Action Theater, Nike+ Kinect Training, Project Spark, and a variety of both released and unreleased others.



Travis Bowles, M.S.

Senior User Researcher



Travis Bowles joined the group in 2012, merging his professional life with one of his favorite hobbies. Since joining, Travis has worked on how to best understand consumer relationships with 2wayTV, extended existing game playtest methods to non-game interactive experiences, and worked on an effort to rethink the process surrounding communication of player experience research.

Previously, Travis was responsible for user research on all aspects of collaborative User Research at Oracle, from web conferencing to intelligent systems for knowledge management. Following Oracle, he spent some time consulting full time for Macquarium in Atlanta, Georgia on training and information architecture.



Todd A. Kelley, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Todd Kelley joined Studios User Research in 2012. Previously he lived in the academic world, where he conducted research on how the brain controls attention, working memory and visual perception, using fMRI, EEG and TMS. His dissertation and several subsequent projects focused on how people can improve their ability to ignore distracting information. Currently, Todd is investigating new research capabilities and working to refine existing techniques and procedures. His primary focus thus far has been on eye tracking and biometrics. He has also worked as the UR for Dead Rising 3 and Sunset Overdrive.

Todd is a life-long gamer of all types and will happily spend a good half hour talking about his all-time favorite games should you ask. He'll also happily get into extended conversations about music.



Chris LeFeaver, M.Sc.

User Researcher Lead (Vancouver)



Chris LeFeaver joined the SUR team in 2013 to lead the user research activities for Microsoft’s Vancouver Studios. Since joining he has worked on the NFL and ESPN apps for Xbox One, and is the current the lead UR for the Gears of War franchise.

Prior to joining Microsoft, he worked for Sony Playstation where he helped build and define their European and American UR teams and processes. During his 5 years at Sony he conducted user research on key franchises (Uncharted, Killzone, Heavy Rain, inFamous, etc.), core systems (VITA & PS Store) and physical ergonomics (VITA & PS4 Controller). Chris graduated with an MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics from Nottingham University in 2006. He subsequently worked at a user experience agency in London where he conducted user research and design for webpages, mobile phones, and console games

In his spare time, he is an avid consumer of all kinds of games. Board games, poker, and League of Legends ranking as his favourites.



Karl Steiner, Ph.D.

Senior User Research Lead (London)



Karl Steiner is a Senior User Research Lead at Microsoft Studios based in London, working with studios and partners in the UK and Europe. Karl has been a UR/UX professional for over 15 years, building and managing teams across domains including games, enterprise software, and commerce. Before joining Microsoft, Karl previously managed the UR department at THQ Games, overseeing research for games like Darksiders, UFC: Undisputed, Company of Heroes Online, Dawn of War II, Metro 2033, De Blob, and many others. He has a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction, and recent areas of interest include research strategy, multi-channel experiences, and personas and narrative techniques in research and design. When he’s not working or spending time with his family, he can sometimes be found online working to perfect his MOBA skills.




Sophie McDaid, Ph.D.

Ethnographer (Dublin)



Sophie McDaid Joined the SUR team in September 2013 as an ethnographer. Prior to Microsoft, Sophie worked in o2 Telefonica and was part of the Consumer Insights team, commissioning and carrying out research on behalf of key business stakeholders. Sophie completed a B.A. International degree from University college Dublin partnered with La Sorbonne, Paris IV. She later completed a PhD in social psychology exploring women’s negotiation of identity. When not working, Sophie is usually found walking her dogs, feeding her ducks and chickens or meeting up with friends.



Aaron Fulmer

Research Operations PM



Prior to joining SUR, Aaron was a top producer in both inside and outside sales, and also successfully built and sold his own business. Aaron joined the team as a vendor in early 2010 in a Project Manager role that focused primarily on Playtesting process refinement, project planning, and staff management. Since then, Aaron has grown into a set of responsibilities that include cross-business partnership management, operational cost tracking and process efficiency improvement, contingent staff management, project planning – and anything else needed in partnership with SUR Leadership that helps develop and drive robust programs that leverage SUR’s unique facilities, research methodologies, and trained staff to have impact at a wider Microsoft Studios level.

Aaron has a B.A. in Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University, where he continued an 18-year baseball career, through semi-pro. He lives/breathes/creates music, has been awarded “Best Uncle (Unk) in Any Universe” by his two nieces, loves the Seahawks and M’s, and could happily spend the rest of his life in a professional grade kitchen.



Deanne Adams, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Deanne Adams received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Spring of 2013.  Her research areas included multimedia learning, educational games, cognitive tutors, and spatial cognition.  She spent a year at Vanderbilt University working on an educational game aimed to teach Newton’s Laws of Motion to middle school kids.  She then switched gears while working at the University of Notre Dame to examine the effects of stress on navigation in virtual environments.


Deanne enjoys playing tabletop games including an ongoing (5 year) long distance series of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.  She also is an avid fantasy reader which is possibly due to being married to a librarian who constantly has book recommendations.



Jessie Thomas, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Jessie Thomas joined the Studios User Research team in the summer of 2015. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, she went on receive her PhD in Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology from the University of Washington. Her graduate work focused on understanding how sensory information is encoded within our brains, and how neural representations of information can be linked to our perceptual experiences. She loves all things music related and often forgets people can still hear her singing when she wears headphones.



Melissa Boone, Ph.D.

User Researcher



Melissa Boone joined Studios User Research in 2015. She earned a BA in psychology from Spelman College in 2008, where she fell in love two things: 1) studying how people think and behave and 2) statistics and research methods. To indulge these nerdy pursuits, Melissa attended Columbia University for her PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and Social Psychology and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University, where she studied how people’s social interactions affect their health behaviors and put them at higher risk for HIV and drug abuse. She also did a short stint conducting market research in the video gaming sphere, which inspired her to make the leap to the games world.


Currently, Melissa is working across several Microsoft Studios franchises; she’s also interested in issues of diversity and inclusion in gaming. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys both video and board games, cooking and baking, being outside, and exercising her never-tired Lab mix, Zelda.