C. Estelle Smith, Ph.D.

CV | Google Scholar | Faculty Page

C. Estelle Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Colorado School of Mines (CS@Mines). Her research focuses on Computational Spiritual Support (see bit.ly/sacredtech).  She is excited to be welcoming one postdoctoral researcher to her new research lab in April 2023 and three PhD students in Fall 2023. She does not have any remaining PhD positions available at this time; please consider checking back again at a later date. However, there may be research positions available for excellent undergraduate or Master’s students. (Interested students should complete this short form to inquire about possibilities.)

Estelle completed her PhD in Computer Science with a social computing emphasis at GroupLens Research at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2016-2020). She was co-advised by Professors Loren Terveen (Department of Computer Science & Engineering) and Susan O’Conner-Von (Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing). Her dissertation explored spiritual and social support for users of Online Health Communities such as CaringBridge where patients and caregivers can turn for support as they navigate life-threatening illness. Her interdisciplinary research has also focused on topics like human-centered artificial  intelligence and machine learning, and science communications in HCI.

After her PhD, Estelle worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Information Science with Professors Brian Keegan and Chenhao Tan (2021-2022). Funded by an NSF-sponsored grant, she studied community-centered data science techniques, genealogical relationships, and governance bots in online communities on Reddit.

Estelle’s Story

Estelle draws inspiration and purpose from her eclectic and ever-evolving collection of life experiences. She grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and has also lived in Costa Rica, the UK, and Austria, interspersed with lots of international travel. She holds a BA in English (Creative Writing, 2010), a BS in Neuroscience (2015), and a PhD in Computer Science (2020), along with three years of experience at San Francisco tech start-ups between degrees and freelance side gigs in Science Writing. She has bicycled across the USA, run a marathon, scaled cliffs, and dreams of someday kayaking the Amazon.

In Estelle’s professional day-to-day, she is a passionate researcher, communicator, and educator. She is deeply grateful and humbled to participate in collaborative engagements with impactful organizations such as non-profit organizations like CaringBridge and the Wikimedia Foundation, and companies like Reddit. In her personal day-to-day, she is obsessed with rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking, camping and hiking adventures all across the Front Range.


CV  | Google Scholar


C. Estelle Smith, Hannah Miller-Hillberg, and Zachary Levonian. “Thoughts & Prayers” or “❤️ & 🙏”: How the Release of New Reactions on CaringBridge Reshapes Supportive Communication During Health Crises. CSCW 2023. (ArXiv preprint)

C. Estelle Smith. Ethical Training for the ChatGPT Future. Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS) at Colorado School of Mines. April 6, 2023. (Slides)

Joshua Nunziato, C. Estelle Smith, Heather Fester, and Helen Davies. Ethics of ChatGPT Workshop. February 10, 2023 at University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business. Funded by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program (DFEICP). (Slides)


C. Estelle Smith, Irfanul Alam, Chenhao Tan, Brian C. Keegan, and Anita Blanchard. The Impact of Governance Bots on Sense of Virtual Community: Development and Validation of the GOV-BOTs Psychometric Scale. CSCW 2022. (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog )

Charles Chuankai Zhang, Mo Houtti, C. Estelle Smith, and Loren Terveen. Working for the Invisible Machines or Pumping Information into an Empty Void? An Exploration of Wikidata Contributors’ Motivations. CSCW 2022. (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall))

C. Estelle Smith. What are people really seeking when they’re looking for health information on Reddit? Workshop paper for Information-Seeking, Finding Identity: Exploring the Role of Online Health Information in Illness Experience. CSCW 2022.  (local copy)

C. Estelle Smith. A Memorandum on Sacranet at the turn of the 22nd Century: Where We Were & What We Are Now. Speculative Design Fiction (short story) for NordiCHI Workshop: Co-Imagining Participatory Design in Religious and Spiritual Contexts. Aarhus, Denmark. October 2022. (bit.ly/sacranet)

C. Estelle Smith. Sacred Be Thy Tech: Thoughts (& Prayers) on Integrating Spirituality in Technology for Health & Wellbeing. ACM Interactions Magazine. July-August 2022. (Download from ACMlocal copy)

C. Estelle Smith, Diana Freed, and Susan O’Conner-Von. How Can Technology Better Support Spiritual Care? Guidance and Future Innovations for Spiritual Care in the Aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Workshop at the Spiritual Care Association 2022: Caring for the Human Spirit Conference. March 30, 2022. ( slides | abstract )


C. Estelle Smith, William Lane, Hannah Hillberg, Daniel Kluver, Loren Terveen, and Svetlana Yarosh. Effective Strategies in Crowd-Powered Cognitive Reappraisal Systems: A Field Deployment of the Flip*Doubt Web Application for Mental Health. CSCW 2021. Best Paper Honorable Mention Award (Top 5% of submissions). (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog

C. Estelle Smith, Avleen Kaur, Katie Z. Gach, Loren Terveen, Mary Jo Kreitzer, and Susan O’Conner-Von. 2021. What is Spiritual Support and How Might It Impact the Design of Online Health Communities?  CSCW 2021. ( Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog

Avleen Kaur, C. Estelle Smith, and Loren Terveen. Sway Together, Stay Together: Visualizing Spiritual Support Networks Through the SoulGarden Prototype. CSCW 2021 Poster. (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall))


Ph.D. Dissertation Defense. December 18, 2020. Beyond Social Support: Spiritual Support as a Novel Design Dimension in Sociotechnical Systems. ( Download Dissertation | Watch Recording of Thesis Defense )

C. Estelle Smith, Zachary Levonian, Haiwei Ma, Robert Giaquinto, Gemma Lein-Mcdonough, Zixuan Li, Susan O’Conner-Von, and Svetlana Yarosh. 2020. “I Cannot Do All of this Alone”: Exploring Instrumental and Prayer Support in Online Health Communities. Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ToCHI). (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog )

C. Estelle Smith, Bowen Yu, Anjali Srivastava, Aaron Halfaker, Loren Terveen, and Haiyi Zhu. 2020. Keeping Community in the Loop: Understanding Wikipedia Stakeholder Values for Machine Learning-Based Systems. Proc. CHI 2020. (Acceptance Rate: 24.3%)  Best Paper Honorable Mention Award (Top 5% of submissions). (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog )

C. Estelle Smith, Eduardo Nevarez, and Haiyi Zhu. 2020. Disseminating Research News in Human-Computer Interaction: Perceived Hazards, How-To’s, and Opportunities for Innovation. Proc. CHI 2020. (Acceptance Rate: 24.3%) (Download from ACM) | local copy (no paywall))

Sarah A. Gilber, Casey Fiesler, Lindsay Blackwell, Michael Ann DeVito, Michaelanne Dye, Shamika Goddard, Kishonna L. Gray, David Nemer, C. Estelle Smith. 2020. Public Scholarship and CSCW: Trials and Twitterations. CSCW2020 Workshop. (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall))

Mark Butzer, Zachary Levonian, Yangyang Luo, Kathleen Watson, Ye Yuan, C. Estelle Smith, Svetlana Yarosh. Grandtotem: Supporting International and Intergenerational Relationships. CSCW 2020 Poster. (Download from ACM  | local copy (no paywall))


C. Estelle Smith, Xinyi Wang, Raghav Karumur, and Haiyi Zhu. 2018. [Un]breaking News: Design Opportunities for Enhancing Collaboration in Scientific Media Production. Proc. CHI 2018. (Acceptance Rate: 25.7%) Best Paper Honorable Mention Award (Top 5% of submissions). (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog )

Niels van Berkel, Julio Vega, Ankit Kariryaa, C. Estelle Smith, and Ye Yuan. CHI 2018 Conference Report. IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 17, no. 03, pp. 58-63, Jul., 2018. (Download from IEEE | local copy (no paywall))


Haiwei Ma, C. Estelle Smith, Lu He, Saumik Narayanan, Robert A. Giaquinto, Roni Evans, Linda Hanson, and Svetlana Yarosh. 2017. Write for Life: Persisting in Online Health Communities with Expressive Writing and Social Support. CSCW 2017. (Download from ACM | local copy (no paywall) | short blog