Thomas Thornton

Thomas Thornton

Adjunct Assistant Professor


I am a former musician / teacher / stats-nerd who went back to school later in life to earn my doctorate in Cognitive Psychology (computational modeling of visual attention and implicit memory). Subsequently, during my time as a post-doc at UT I began exploring usability consulting and eventually decided to leave academia to pursue that career full time. In 2009, I founded my own UX research and design company here in Austin ( with my business partners Kelly Terry and Eric Nordquist.

Over the past 12 years, Sentier has provided UX/CX research and design services to a large number of Fortune500 companies. The projects tend to vary greatly and this has allowed me to gain expertise in designing research studies that implement a diverse set of applied UX methods, from traditional lab-based usability to competitor benchmarking, out-of-box installation evaluations, in-home product trials, agile and early prototype testing,feature mapping, basic and advanced survey techniques, information architecture tests, labeling / messaging studies, and more.

My classes at the iSchool focus on exposing students’ to some of the most popular “workhorse” quantitative and qualitative UX research methods via the completion of industry-paced classroom projects. I love getting to share some of the expertise I’ve gained from a career informed both by academic rigor and private sector know-how with the next generation of applied UX designers and researchers. My ultimate teaching goal is to familiarize students with UX research methodologies via direct learning and application within actual private sector project analogs.


PhD: University of Texas at Austin, Cognition & Perception, Psychology, 2002
BA: University of Texas at Austin, Psychology, 1994

Areas Of Specialization

Machine Learning
Data Visualization

Recent Courses

YearSemesterCourse NumberCourseSyllabus
2021FallINF 385PUsability
2021SpringINF 385PUsability