Heather O'Brien

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.

Associate Professor

Research Classification

All other social sciences, n.e.c.

Research Interests

user engagement
user experience
community engagement
information seeking and retrieval
information access
cognitive processes related to information searching and evaluation
health technologies

Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

questionnaire development and evaluation
search behaviour
participatory design

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Heather O'Brien always makes time in her schedule for students. The best thing about her: she views our mistakes as opportunities to teach us something new. She's always positive about our work and ideas. I'm so grateful to have such an incredible advocate. #greatsupervisor #UBC


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Exploring the information contexts of young fathers in two British Columbian cities (2018)

No abstract available.

The design process: designing information technology for the public sphere (2010)

No abstract available.

Recent Tri-Agency Grants

The following is a selection of grants for which the faculty member was principal investigator or co-investigator. Currently, the list only covers Canadian Tri-Agency grants from years 2013/14-2016/17 and excludes grants from any other agencies.

  • Search as learning - UBC Humanities and Social Science (HSS) Research Fund - Faculty of Arts HSS Conference Travel Grants (2016/2017)
  • Antecedents and learning outcomes of exploratory search engagement - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Insight Grants (2015/2016)
  • Antecedents and outcomes of user engagement with digital libraries - UBC Humanities and Social Science (HSS) Research Fund - VPRI Bridge Funding Program (2015/2016)
  • Evaluating user engagement with information technology - Project: AFEVAL; NGAIA; SENSE-I - Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) - Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) - Research (2013/2014)



If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Learn about our faculties, research, and more than 300 programs in our 2021 Graduate Viewbook!