Janet Davis

Photo of Janet Davis by Penrose Library
Associate Professor and Microsoft Chair of Computer Science
Whitman College
Olin 118
Office hours
I am on sabbatical for the 2019-20 academic year. I will have limited availability by appointment. See also my calendar.
Counting from zero: Building a liberal arts CS program in the age of ubiquity
Social media
I encourage all Whitman CS students to connect with me on LinkedIn.
On Twitter, follow ProfJanetDavis and CS@Whitman.
On Facebook, I accept friend requests from alumni but not current students.
I encourage you to join the group CS@Whitman.
Past courses
CS 167: Introduction to Computational Problem Solving
CS 210: Computer Systems Fundamentals
CS/Math 220: Discrete Math & Functional Programming
CS 267: Human-Computer Interaction
CS 370: Software Design
CS 495/6: Computer Science Capstone
Past courses at Grinnell College (2006–2015)
Curriculum vitae [pdf]



My mission as a scholar: Nurture humanity in and through technology. Foster connections among people, disciplines, and ideas.

My chief scholarly interests lie in the area of human-computer interaction (HCI). I see this area as broadly addressing a scientific question and a design question: How do people interact with computers? And how can we design computer systems to enhance rather than detract from the human experience? My work as a computer scientist emphasizes the latter.

I am particularly interested in how we do design. My dissertation research applied Value Sensitive Design to UrbanSim, a large scale urban planning simulator, with an eye to transparency, fairness, and democracy to support the legitimacy of using UrbanSim as part of the political process. Much of my work has applied participatory design methods that engage future users in the processes and procedures of design, respecting equally the expertise of designers and participants. My current work investigates the design of persuasive technology to influence users' speech and writing.

During my sabbatical this academic year, I am launching a Value Sensitive Design study of the GMail plug-in Just Not Sorry. Please contact me if you are interested in participating in my research or learning about my findings.


My mission as a teacher: Create transformative experiences while fostering a supportive learning community.

My teaching interests span introductory computer science, computer systems, design, and the social influences and implications of computing and other technology.  In my time at Grinnell, I taught Functional Problem Solving, Computer Organization & Architecture, Operating Systems & Parallel Algorithms, Computer Networks, Software Development, Human-Computer Interaction, Evolution of Technology, and two Tutorials on technology and society.


My personal interests and pleasures include beadwork, knitting, sewing, and other crafts, walking, gardening, cooking, architecture, reading (especially YA fantasy, cozy mysteries, and light nonfiction), and collecting computer science jokes. Ask me about my daughter, my cat, the home my husband and I built in Walla Walla, or any of my other interests.


Selected Teaching Publications and Presentations

Selected Research Publications and Presentations

* Co-authors are Whitman students or alumni. 
** Co-authors are Grinnell students or alumni.
Janet Davis (davisj@whitman.edu)

Created August 7, 2015
Last modified July 19, 2019, 02:00:50 PM PDT