About the Lab

The Process, Interaction, and Creativity Lab (PICL) is part of the Interactive Computing Group at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We seek to understand, support, and re-envision how computational tools relate to creative process. To do so, we build and study computational creativity support tools, perform qualitative research, and deploy new tools in the real world.

For Prospective Students

If you are a prospective graduate student interested in HCI, creativity, or education, apply to UIUC Computer Science and mention Dr. Sterman in your application.


screenshot of feedback interface for a sketch artifact

Kaleidoscope: A Reflective Documentation Tool for a User Interface Design Course

Sarah Sterman, Molly Nicholas, Janaki Vivrekar, Jessie Mindel, Eric Paulos

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2023

Presents Kaleidoscope, a novel tool for documenting and interacting with design history in studio HCI courses. We deployed this tool in an upper-level HCI course during the COVID-19 pandemic to support student learning through feedback, reflection, and interactions with project histories.
Best Paper Award
diagram of mode switching

Creative and Motivational Strategies of Expert Creative Practitioners

Molly Nicholas*,Sarah Sterman*, Eric Paulos

ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition (C&C), 2022

Explores how creative practitioners intentionally manage their creative process, for example by developing strategies to break out of ruts or stay motivated through uncertainty. Understanding the way experts engage with and manage creativity-relevant processes represents a rich source of foundational knowledge for designers of creativity support tools. We identify four strategies for managing process and discuss implications for the design of process-focused creativity support tools.
Best Paper Award
three stages of designing a violin scroll

Towards Creative Version Control

Sarah Sterman*, Molly Nicholas*, Eric Paulos

ACM Conference On Computer-Supported Cooperative Work And Social Computing (CSCW), 2022

Explores how creative practitioners use version control tools and history information in creative process, and introduces four key considerations for version control in creative work: using versions as a palette of materials, providing confidence and freedom to explore, leveraging low-fidelity version capture, and reflecting on and reusing versions across long time scales. We discuss how the themes present across this wide range of mediums and domains can provide insight into future designs and uses of version control systems to support creative process.
Visualization of text style.

Interacting with Literary Style through Computational Tools

Sarah Sterman, Evey Huang, Vivian Liu, Eric Paulos

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2020

Presents a computational technique to surface style in written text. We collect a dataset of crowdsourced human judgments of style, derive a model of style by training a neural net on this data, and present novel applications for visualizing and browsing style across broad bodies of literature, as well as an interactive text editor with real-time style feedback. We study these interactive style applications with users and discuss implications for enabling this novel approach to style.


Dr. Sarah Sterman

Graduate Students

David Zhou
PhD Student

James Eschrich
PhD Student

Claire Tian
PhD Student

Andrew Chen
MS Student

Shon Shtern
iCAN Student

Chengyang Zhang
MCS Student

Past Students