Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony

Musician - Researcher - Engineer

Hey, it's Bre.

I'm a 6th and final year Ph.D. student in Computational Media (Human Computer Interaction) at the University of California Santa Cruz.

I will be defending in late Spring and taking a brief break (hooray!) before going on the alt-academic job market this Fall. I will be looking to apply my interdisciplinary skills in engineering, research, and design to either product or public interest oriented roles (though I'm still deciding what I want my career to look like! If you are willing to chat about your personal career trajectory please reach out!).

In my research and career so far I've had the opportunity to dive into accessibility, robotics, machine learning, and participatory design.

My dissertation research explores justice and equity based engineering and design methods for engaging with disabled communities. I deeply enjoy getting to work with users to make effective technologies.




Winter 2021 - Present

Lead Researchers: Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Jared Duval
Advisors: Sri Kurniawan, Katheryn M. Ringland
Undergraduate Research Team: Ellen Kim, Ryoma Marta-Sugawara, Qinhui Yu, Rafael Costa, Eric Jang

DREEM (Disability-Related Empathy from Existing Media) is a method proposed as a response to Disability Justice calls to appreciate and Cultural content such as videos and podcasts are rich with authentic perspectives and tacit design knowledge from communities of people with disabilities. The goal of DREEM is to use media created by people with disabilities to establish meaningful research agendas. The motivations of DREEM work include recent critiques of technosolutionism, inspiring methods used in humanities and social sciences (e.g., close reading and netnography, empathy that builds partnerships with people with disabilities rather than trying to experience disability ourselves [61], and sharing labor in taxing design work, —all as a precursor to working directly with communities. DREEM consists of 4 empathy-building steps towards developing authentic research agendas: 1) Discover relevant media, 2) Perform close readings 3) record autoethnographic reflections, and 4) Generate research agendas based on a thematic analysis.

For an example close reading (done as a group example in an undergraduate research course), see this miro board. For more info, you can check out our paper, in review .

UC-Wide Basic Needs

June 2020 - Present

Lead Researcher: Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony
Undergraduate Developmers: Jessy Rakesh Armstrong, Rishita Wiaragade, Daniel Browne
Advisors: Sri Kurniawan, Tim Galarneau, Heather Bullock, Kednel Jean

Due to COVID-19 restructuring, many students have moved away and will not be able to access many of the programs from UCSC. Basic needs are the fundamental necessities needed in order to live and thrive. This project details efforts to make basic needs programs from any UC easily available to any UC student. While campuses have already agreed to provide these services across campuses, there is not a centralized access point. A centralized web application would allow students to see available resources all in one place and campuses to post or disclose which services are available to outside students.

The website is set to launch this Summer. Keep an eye out at ucbasicneeds.ucsc.edu You can also find a short research presentation on this project here.

Procedurally Generated Piano Roll

Winter 2018

This Project uses Wave Function Collapse to generate piano roll. Wave function collapse is an algorithm that produces tile based imaged, commonly used for game map generation. Piano roll is a type of music scoring which you may recognize from any experience with digital audio workstations. A user can generate their own roll, then choose a key to generate a midi file assosciated with the score. The example audio, which can be found in the github repo, is from a procedurally generated image and played in C Major.

For more info, or to download the code, you can check out the github repo.


Spring 2017

Development Team: Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Vishnu Surya, Jamie Dieckman

Mechatronics is a UCSC course in which team of 3 are given just a few weeks to build a robot from the ground up and compete. Teams build their autonomous bots from scratch including sensors, structure and code. Our team split the development of electrical, mechanical, and software components equally so that we could each pick up where anyone left off or had trouble. This strategy worked as we won the final competition of about 20 other bots!

For more info, you can check out our final report , or watch a video of our bot winning the final round of the competition.

Selected Publications


Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Ishita Chordia, Ashley Boone, Alyssa Sheehan, Lynn Dombrowski, Christopher Le Dantec, Kathryn Ringland, and Angela D. R. Smith. Social Justice in HCI: A Systematic Literature Review. Proceedings of the CHI 2024 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.


Tessa Eagle, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, and Kathryn Ringland. Proposing body doubling as a continuum of space/time and mutuality: An investigation with neurodivergent participants. Proceedings of the ASSETS 23 Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

Tessa Eagle, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Lee Taber, and Kathryn Ringland. A Playful Twist on the Peer Review Process and Methodological Gaslighting. Proceedings of the CHI 2023 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.


Lee Taber, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, and Kevin Weatherwax. What makes a livestream companion?. ACM interactions 26


Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Kevin Weatherwax, Sri Kurniawan, Lee Taber, Steve Whittaker. A Livestream Companion. In Live Streaming Workshop at the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Hansen Brian, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Sri Kurniawan, and Angus Forbes. Exploring sonic parameter mapping for network data structures. In International Conference on Auditory Display 2019.


Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Tom Hope, Kentaro Watanabe, Mircea Teodorescu, Sri Kurniawan, and Takuichi Nishimura. Exploring the creation of useful interfaces for music therapists. In Audio Mostly 2018. Association for Computing Machinery, 2018

Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony Technology for Music Therapy . Undergraduate Thesis, Computer Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz, 2018


Steven Lessard, Pattawong Pansodtee, Ash Robbins, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, James M Trombadore, Mircea Teodorescu, Adrian Agogino, and Sri Kurniawan. Crux: A compliant robotic upper-extremity exosuit for lightweight, portable, multi-joint muscular augmentation. In Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), 2017 International Conference on, pages 1633–1638. IEEE, 2017


Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Ash S Robbins, Erik A Jung, Steven Lessard, Mircea Teodorescu, Vytas SunSpiral, and Adrian Agogino. Simulating the human shoulder through active tensegrity structures. In ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information

Steven Lessard, Dennis Castro, William Asper, Shaurya Deep Chopra, Leya Breanna Baltaxe-Admony, Mircea Teodorescu, Vytas SunSpiral, and Adrian Agogino. A bio-inspired tensegrity manipulator with multi-dof, structurally compliant joints. 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). IEEE, 2016.

Banana Slug Brass Quintet

The Banana Slug Brass has been performing at the University of California Santa Cruz and beyond since 2014.

We play everything from renaissance to Mariah Carey. We enjoy playing across the Bay Area, and are available for engagements. Contact me for more info at bre@ucsc.edu

Upcoming Performances

Performances have been cancelled for the forseeable future due to COVID-19.

Past Performances

2 March 2020, 5pm - Chamber Music Concert, ft. Banana Slug Brass. We'll be playing a suite from West Side Story, Mariaaaaa

28 February 2020 - UCSC Wind Ensemble ft. Banana Slug Brass

9 February 2020 - Genevieve Kromm, Graduate Recital ft. Banana Slug Brass