Research > Team Bios
Director of User Research
Daniel V. Gunn, Senior User Research
Tracey Sellar Fuller, Senior User
Tim Nichols, Senior User Research Lead
Carl Anselmi, Senior User Research Ops PM
Jerome Hagen, Senior User Researcher
Bruce Phillips, Senior User
Senior User Researcher
JJ Guajardo, Senior User Researcher
Deborah Hendersen, User Researcher
Sean Baron, User
Adam Greenberg, User Researcher
Travis Bowles, Senior User Researcher
Todd A. Kelley, User Researcher
Chris LeFeaver, User Researcher Lead
Karl Steiner, Senior
User Research Lead (London)
Sophie McDaid, Ethnographer (Dublin)
Aaron Fulmer, Research Operations PM
Deanne Adams, User
Jessie Thomas, User
Melissa Boone, User
Randy Pagulayan, Ph.D.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 –
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 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
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.
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 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.
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
Sophie McDaid, Ph.D.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.