Combining Art and Science in IT

Barbara Puccio helps create visually appealing, intuitive websites

Outside of work, Barbara Puccio enjoys beekeeping.
Outside of work, Barbara Puccio enjoys beekeeping. "We need them to grow anything, from fruit trees to flowers, so they’re a cool animal to study," she said. Photo courtesy of Barbara Puccio.

Name: Barbara PuccioPosition: Manager of creative and user experience, Duke Web ServicesYears at Duke: 9

What I do at Duke: My office works to design and build websites for Duke offices, departments and schools. At the front end of any project, we do research to figure out key interactions that users are doing that website owners may not know about. We use that data to inform the layout and design of a site, then fold that within Duke brand guidelines to be visually appealing and make the site easy and intuitive to use.

If I had $5 million, I would: Give everyone in my family a chunk of money. My parents were both immigrants and I don’t have many family members in the U.S., so that’d be easy to do. I’d retire to someplace beautiful with my family and invest the rest. I think we’d switch our time between Belize in the winter and Blacksburg, Virginia, in the summer. 

My first ever job: Delivering a weekly paper. They were dropped off on a Tuesday night, and then I had to fold them up, put them in bags and on Wednesday go throw them on people’s lawns and collect money. It was the worst job ever. Trying to get money out of people wasn’t easy.

My dream job: I would grow cutting flowers. I love Ranunculus, Anemones and Poppies. They all have a kind of beautiful, ethereal, multi-layered quality that is gorgeous. I studied sustainable agriculture in school and have an environmental studies degree. It makes me part artist and part scientist, which is one of the best things about my job at Duke, because I integrate both of those parts of my mind.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Cutting flowers are on my mind because of spring, but people can also ask about honeybees. We need them to grow anything, from fruit trees to flowers, so they’re a cool animal to study. I used to have bees for many years.

The best advice I ever received: It’s ‘if you talk to a manager, you realize how important they are. If you talk to a leader, you realize how important you are.’ 

What I love about Duke: My coworkers. During March Madness, we do special brackets. This year was all about potato chips. Everyone chips in $5 and we create a bracket with chips to do taste tests. Last year it was candy and Take 5 won it all.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: To have Dalai Lama-type spiritual awareness where I wasn’t stressed, worried or anxious. I didn’t have any care and could rise above everything.

Something most people don’t know about me: I lived on a sustainable farm for credit while in college at UC-Santa Cruz. I lived there for five months running a self-sustaining farm model. We supplied all our own food and raised money from things like bee keeping.