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Amaya W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of California, San Diego


UX/, Entrepreneurship/Startups, Product Management, Design Thinking, Market Research, Digital Marketing, Science Fair, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biology


Hi! I'm a multi-faceted research & product strategy leader, and have a life-long passion for learning and teaching in both formal and informal settings. I have over 15 years of software industry experience in user experience, research, product marketing, and product strategy. I'm an inventor listed on over 50 technology patents in the US and internationally, and received my first patent when I was awarded the top prize at the international science fair in high school. Most recently, I'm Chief Product Officer at bande Fitness, a startup looking to transform the virtual fitness market by fostering real human connections and enduring relationships. Formerly I was Vice President, Product at Mindbody, where I also built and scaled UX, market research, and product marketing disciplines. Amaya has a BA in Chemistry & Fine Arts from Amherst College, MS in Biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science & HCI from UC San Diego. I have a lifelong passion for sports and fitness. I'm an ACE Certified aerobics instructor, I was a former college athlete, and Captain, Amherst College Volleyball and member NESCAC all-star women’s volleyball team, 1997. I also love Making, and can be found painting large scale murals, textile art, and woodworking projects with my husband and two daughters, both of whom love STEAM!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

How Do Face Masks Impair The Way Humans Read Emotions

COVID-19 has spread across the world, changing our way of life and forcing us to wear face masks. Early research indicates that face masks influence the human ability to infer emotions by observing facial configurations. This project will add to what we know about the impacts to human development and social interactions due to the prevalence of face masks. This project could be a literature review or contribute original research in the form of a) large-scale attitudinal survey, b) behavioral assessment of a particular population not well-understood (e.g. teens), c) long-term impacts and accommodation strategies.

Subscription Service for Fitness Gear

COVID has fundamentally shifted the way consumers work out. When gyms were closed down during lockdowns, many consumers reverted to working out from home. Many struggled to build out a home gym -- finding space and appropriate equipment for their new routine. Still, a recent survey by SWNS indicates that 82% of consumers say they intend to maintain a home-based routine even when things return to normal because of the convenience and flexibility of the many new options for home-based workouts. In addition, the pandemic bolstered consumer demand for D2C subscription services, with rapid growth for brands like Prose (haircare), Birchbox (beauty), KiwiCo (kids ed), and Daily Harvest (meals). Consumers are familiarized with this model and many enjoy both the convenience and delight of getting a surprise package monthly in the mail. This project will explore consumer demand to fulfill an unmet need for the segment of newly dedicated at-home fitness consumers, that of a subscription service for fitness gear, which could include equipment, storage, and athleisure wear. The concept is a monthly service to a curated box of fitness gear that will help to supplement a home gym and keep working out from home novel and fresh. Some questions to explore: --What is the market opportunity for an at-home fitness box subscription service? --What is consumer willingness to pay and ideal price point(s)? --How might this service become financially viable/profitable, via partnerships, affiliate, etc.? --What is the ideal UX for such a service to make the subscription compelling and sticky? The culmination of the project might be a business plan and/or a set of wireframes, mockups, or even a fully functional MVP website with integrations to services like Stripe and Shopify, etc.

Teaching experience

- Served as an education specialist/instructor for Ruben H. Fleet Science Center from 1997-1999 - Graduate assistant (TA) during Ph.D. programs (Chemistry and CogSci), taught 3 university-level courses in UX/HCI final year of Ph.D. program as a lecturer - Have led numerous workshops in my corporate career to train internal teams: in particular, Design Thinking, UX, Usability Testing, Lean Startup, Innovation, Patenting - Have spoken publicly in industry conferences and events on behalf of my employer: e.g. UXPA, UX Strat, Mindbody BOLD conference, Wonder Women Tech


Work experience

bande Fitness (2020 - Current)
Chief Product Officer
Mindbody Software (2019 - 2020)
Vice President, Product
Mindbody Software (2017 - 2019)
Senior Director, Experiences
Mindbody Software (2014 - 2017)
Director of Research and Insights


Amherst College
BA Bachelor of Arts (1997)
Chemistry & Fine Arts
University of California, San Diego
BS Bachelor of Science (2002)
Protein Structure/NMR Spectroscopy
University of California, San Diego
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Human-Computer Interaction and UX; Educational Technology

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