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Cat Hicks, PhD

Principal Researcher | Team Lead

Cat brings over twelve years of experience leading complex social science and data science projects to her clients. She has designed research at places like Google and Khan Academy, co-founded a startup that built tools for software engineers, and led multi-institutional collaborations in online learning. As a consultant, Cat has worked across big and small teams, from academic teams, political campaigns, large technology companies, small healthcare businesses, to mission-driven startups--wherever people want to use the power of data and research to grow their work, Cat finds joy in supercharging research strategy and building teams' confidence and insight. Cat holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology (with a focus on Developmental Social Cognition--she studied how children decide to ask questions in classrooms!) from UC San Diego. She was an inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow in the Design Lab at UC San Diego, in both the Cognitive Science & Computer Science and Engineering departments, and has published in learning science, HCI, and social science.


Cat also serves her local community as a mentor, volunteer, and advocate for underrepresented students--she has spent over fifteen years working with students who've experienced significant education disruption and trauma, helping them find pathways back in to traditional education and working as an advocate for equity in educational access. These experiences inform her work to broaden measurement and design data systems to more accurately reflect and make visible the brilliance of historically excluded people.

Rotating Staff

User Researcher | Qualitative Lead | Biological & Health Sciences | Data Engineer

Catharsis Consulting works with a rotating core of researchers with expertise across user experience research, biological and health sciences, and data engineering. We have invested deep time and effort in creating a community with other researchers open to collaborating on consulting projects--we prioritize working with people who are not only deeply accomplished experts, but who also represent diverse experiences, equity-minded perspective, and genuine kind-heartedness. Drawing on this rich network of collaborators, Catharsis Consulting can help to staff an end-to-end research project with phenomenal talent in UX, Biological & Health sciences, and Data engineering. Part of what we provide to potential clients is a window into this community, which has been years in the making! 

Depending on the client need and specific projects, we can assemble a small, targeted team of skilled & compassionate staff to match large or long-term project needs.

Full team details available with specific call for project proposals.

We are rapidly growing and always looking to add to our network of collaborators, fellow researchers, and community of impact-driven good people. If our work sparks your excitement, reach out!

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