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About Sonia

Hello Sunshine!

Who am I?

My name is Sonia Rajendra Tiwari

A fancy interview was published by Creative Gaga magazine in 2019, in case you wanted to read that instead!

I'm originally from Indore, India.

I design learning experiences informed by research. I am currently a PhD candidate in the Learning, Design, and Technology program at Penn State.

I have previously worked as a Game Designer and UX Designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

I've lived a somewhat gypsy life in India (Indore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad) and US (San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and now State College - also known as 'Happy Valley'). The question "Where are you from?" often confuses me, because I've felt a great sense of belonging to every place I've lived in. 

What does "Soniastic" mean?

I often sign/watermark my art with the name 'soniastic' - it came about in art school where I was in awe of all the amazing talent around me. I always thought I might never be as fantastic, but I can try to be 'soniastic!' Two teachers who immensely helped me value my individuality as an artist are Tom Bertino and Sherrie Sinclair from Academy of Art, San Francisco.

The challenge that makes me stronger at design

Growing up Dyslexic, Design Industry has been a great place to express my thoughts and ideas visually! Dyslexia also helped me develop the habit of over-preparing, organizing and simplifying complex information in order to learn smoothly - which comes in handy as a researcher. 

Research Interests

Three key areas of my research are: 

- Transmedia Making’ - using educational media as an inspiration for follow-up maker activities in an attempt to extend children’s online learning offline

- UX design for educational products such as educational games and LMS

- Increasing learner engagement through design of illustrated books, tangible and digital toys and games, educational videos and Infographics 

I love PBS Kids media and have been obsessively following their portfolio of brilliant shows for the quality of educational content and visual design. I now have the opportunity to integrate PBS Kids media in my research work. 

I love designing/teaching/researching Maker Activities. I particularly like working with LilyPad Arduino, 3d printing, designing educational board games and puzzles. I had the pleasure of working on PSU's pop-up Makerfaire and designing an AR Art for the Keller Art Gallery. 

Who am I outside work?

Outside of work I'm generally busy doing creative activities with/for my son like painting, crafting, and sewing. I sometimes write songs and play Ukulele. 

I'm known to bring up '30 Rock' references in my everyday conversations, which I think is one of the best shows ever! I'm Liz Lemon's Indian sister. Sitcoms have helped me laugh my way through many difficult times - perhaps this is why I embrace humor in my everyday life!

Keep in touch, maybe?
For any possible design and/or research collaborations write to soniastic at gmail
I try to regularly update my LinkedIn, you can follow me there for work updates!