Michael Zarro, Ph.D.

Philadelphia & Remote | mzarro@gmail.com | mikezarro.com

Expertise in research, design, and programming with extensive experience leading Agile UX and digital innovation in large IT enterprises, start-ups, and academic institutions.

Professional Experience

User Experience Research Lead

Project Management Institute (PMI), Newtown Square PA
Establish and lead a UX Research practice for a global organization providing certifications, publications, and e-learning resources. Responsible for research and design on projects consistently exceeding KPIs and goals.

  • Own a portfolio of enterprise research and design projects and deliverables, including user journeys, product design, and Agile UX strategies.
  • Lead design and development of highly usable user-interfaces to onboard new customers and support existing users through a program of design thinking, usability testing, and continuous enhancement.
  • Prioritize UX research efforts, including selection and supervision of consulting and contracting vendors, leading to improved engagement, product enhancements, and increased revenue across the organization.

Adjunct Professor

Drexel University, Philadelphia PA

  • Develop and teach courses in information science, human-computer interaction, and web design.

UX Manager

Ellucian, Inc. Malvern PA
Managed a team of eight UX researchers and designers for Banner by Ellucian, the world’s leading provider of software and services for higher education institutions. Headed user experience during a cloud migration program impacting omnichannel applications for 23 million end users at 2,500 global clients.

  • Led a program of ethnographic research and UX design that discovered, analyzed, and corrected critical usability flaws adversely impacting acceptance of cloud-based software.
  • Transformed research findings into requirements and directed software teams implementing improvements, resulting in sustained adoption of flagship software by priority clients while preserving millions in revenue.
  • Collaborated with executive leadership and stakeholders to develop and implement ISO-9241 human-centered design processes in an agile software setting.

Research Fellow and Instructor

Drexel University, Philadelphia PA
Planned, coordinated, and led federally funded research and design projects in human-computer interaction and knowledge management, simultaneous with Ph.D. studies.

  • Initiated and completed research projects in social media and healthcare domains; transformed findings into system designs and peer-reviewed research papers presented at events hosted by MIT, IBM, and Google.
  • Instructor for graduate level UX design and information science courses.

UX Researcher in Knowledge Management (Ph.D. Internship)

SAP, Inc. Newtown Square, PA
Conducted, documented, and presented information architecture research including usability testing, card sorting, and clickstream analysis for SAP e-commerce services, and knowledge sharing tools.

  • Created and presented strategies for knowledge management, information architecture, and interface design to stakeholders, developers, and global executives.

Information Architect

GSI Commerce, Inc. (acquired by eBay.com)
Researched and designed innovative e-commerce user experiences, including search, cart, and checkout for a network of 100+ premium brand sites with over $1 billion in annual sales and 60 million monthly visitors.

  • Developed new technology solutions for the enterprise; including the first product auto-delivery service in order to increase repeat sales, and the first customer self-service return web app to reduce call center volume.
  • Created client-facing presentations and led review sessions to win design approval for over twenty projects.
  • Represented the user experience team and estimated delivery timelines during sales, discovery, and design project phases; clients included Polo/Ralph Lauren, Ace Hardware, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL.

Interaction Designer and Full-Stack Web Developer

Early Career Positions

  • Designed and maintained web applications using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, ASP, MySQL, and SQL Server in VC-backed and bootstrapped technology startups.
  • Developed websites for Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges with stakeholders including faculty, administrators, and students. Led an online-giving development for a successful $230+ million campaign.
  • Headed an interactive media team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine that developed a program of web-based learning and digital labs for medical students and continuing medical education.


  • PhD, Information Studies (with honors): Drexel University, Philadelphia PA
    Dissertation: A Conceptual Model of Online Information Behavior in the Chronic Disease Trajectory
  • Masters of Library and Information Science (with honors): Drexel University, Philadelphia PA
  • Bachelor of Arts: George Washington University, Washington DC


  • Information Architecture: The Design and Integration of Information Spaces, Second Edition.
    Ding, W., Lin, X., & Zarro, M. (2017). Published by Morgan & Claypool. http://bit.ly/2mzfxHa

Professional Activities (partial list)

  • Lead or co-author of over a dozen peer-reviewed papers, which have received 300 citations.
  • Invited Lecture: Design Thinking for Global Regions – PMI Leadership Institute Meeting, 2019
  • Industry Talk: Design + Artificial Intelligence – World Usability Day, 2018
  • Invited Lecture: Opposites Attract: AI and UX for Digital Projects – PMI Virtual Student Summit, 2018
  • Industry Talk: Design Thinking, Jobs Theory, and Deep Data – Word IA Day, 2017
  • Professional Membership: The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Scrum Alliance, 2015 – present