Coffee chats: James Landay

Our most recent faculty coffee chat was on Tuesday, November 1st, with James Landay, a computer science professor at Stanford who specializes in human-computer interaction. As the student attendees sipped their Coupa drinks, Landay began to recount his journey: “I started by stealing video games.” 

Not literally, of course; video games served as his avenue into the world of computer science. Landay continued to enter the human-computer science niche, first studying at UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon before serving as faculty for UC Berkeley, University of Washington, Cornell Tech, and, finally, Stanford University. 

During the engaging coffee chat (it exceeded the scheduled end by 23 minutes), Landay described his research in the Smart Primer, a story-based tutor that grows with the student, as well as the future he envisioned of designing for behavior change with interactive environments. In between, conversation shifted from research to education to speech recognition to an objective comparison of everywhere Landay has lived: Bay Area, Seattle, New York City, and Beijing. 

To learn more about James Landay, visit his website at

Written by Jenny Zhi