Sentier Strategic Resources

Sentier is a custom research agency, helping our clients understand the behavior, perceptions, and expectations of their market.


We understand that when you hire a research firm, your reputation is at stake within your organization.

We take that seriously and will make you look great by providing research that builds on your business strategy, is accurate, usable, methodologically sound, and executive-presentation-ready.

You can choose to engage with us in several different ways – from contracting with us to develop a full research roadmap to engaging on an individual project basis. We are good at tough business questions, connecting with hard to reach audiences, dealing with complicated project logistics, and we are not limited by geography. Here’s some examples of how we can support your business objectives.

Research Design


Product & Service Development

Research Design


Product Development

We are methodologically agnostic – we are not confined to just focus groups, surveys, or lab-based usability testing. We will take your (tough or simple) business questions and design a research approach to get you the answers you need.

You are here, your business strategy is there… how will you gather the customer insight to lead you in the right direction? Sentier can help you map out a phased approach to customer research.

We have the right mix of tools to provide customer insight to inform your product (and service) development process — from concept testing, design support, go-to-market planning, launch, to mid-life refresh.


Market Research

User Research

Strategic Ergonomics & Accessibility

Market Research

User Research

Strategic Ergonomics

We design custom market research projects to inform feature prioritization, positioning, pricing and communications strategies based on your market.

We can help you gather the insights you need to deliver delightful, seamless user experiences. From contextual evaluations for discovery to behavioral usability testing for design refinement, we can help your team stay user-centered.

Our staff is also available to help you design for use. We have the expertise to provide the ergonomics insight to support your innovative design solutions.

Our Work

Flexible Approach

Sentier is a full-service consultancy that can handle every step in the research process. Projects are designed to fit into your development cycle, timeline, and budget.

Usable Data

We take great care to make sure each project delivers reliable results and our recommendations are realistic. Our reports go beyond simply sharing the data to explain why and how this relates to your business.

We are a team of social scientists with expertise in a broad range of behavioral and observational research techniques. We will work with you to choose the right approach to find the qualitative and/or quantitative insights you need to help you make decisions.

Here are a few examples…

• Communications Research
• Concept Testing
• Cross-Channel Evaluation
• Design Research
• Employee Research
• International Research
• Mobile Testing

• Observational Research
• Product Development Research
• Product Trials / Beta Program Management
• Productivity and Efficiency Research
• Strategic Research
• User Experience Research


Our Team

Our senior team is made of up social science PhD-level researchers with industry experience. Their expertise in cognitive science, human factors, business, and technical communication guides every phase of client engagement. Sentier takes a collaborative approach to research design, thereby offering our clients the best of what each discipline has to offer in addressing your specific need while enabling depth of insight and consistently high quality services throughout the engagement.

Tom Thornton, PhD


Specialties - Research design, user experience testing and moderation, large-scale product trials, statistical analysis, information visualization, and wire-framing.
Experience - Tom left academia, where he did basic research, to pursue a career in consulting in 2005. Since that time, Tom has designed and conducted UX research studies for a variety of Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications, finance, retail, software and computing hardware industries. In 2009, Kelly Terry and Tom formed Sentier.
Education - Tom holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. His academic training includes specialization in the study of attention, perception, memory, and the computational modeling of cognition.

    Michelle Peterson, PhD

    Vice President

    Specialties - Human cognition, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) theory and best practices, rapid prototyping and evaluation of hardware, software and web-based products in all stages of the development lifecycle, and quantitative and qualitative research methods.
    Experience - Michelle has recently joined Sentier as Vice President. She previously served as the Senior Manager, Experience Design and Head of UX Research for Rackspace, establishing the tools, methods and processes necessary to systematize research practices for the Rackspace Experience Design Group. She also was a Senior User Experience Engineer for Dell, where she worked in the virtualization management and private cloud services, driving requirements for Next Gen Computing Solutions, and analyzing social media data. She has also worked as an Online Experience Manager for Usability Sciences Corporation; as a Usability Engineer for Microsoft; and as a Post-doctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.
    Education - Michelle holds a PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Florida.

      Jessica White-Sustaita

      Jessica White-Sustaita, PhD


      Specialties - Research design, customer experience research, surveys, depth interviews, focus groups, data visualization, writing, and quantitative and qualitative reporting.
      Experience - Since starting with Sentier in early 2015, Jessica has focused on various aspects of customer experience research, including designing and conducting qualitative studies (e.g. depth interviews and focus groups) and surveys, with an emphasis on user experience and IT market research. Before joining Sentier, Jessica spent 8 years as a graduate researcher designing and conducting research studies, both independently and in collaboration, as well as presenting and publishing her research.
      Education - Jessica holds an MA and PhD in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on social, cognitive, and quantitative factors in language use.

        Matt Newman, PhD


        Specialties - Research and survey design, project management, basic and advanced statistical analysis, data visualization, writing, and reporting.
        Experience - Matt spent over a decade in academic positions, teaching, publishing, and conducting primary research, using a wide range of methodologies, from large-scale surveys to physiological measurement. In his transition to the private sector, Matt has applied his research expertise to provide both internal and external consulting for client projects, translating business questions into actionable insights from quality research. Prior to joining Sentier, Matt served as an independent research consultant, as well as a Research Products Manager at Research Now.
        Education - Matt holds an MS and a PhD in Social Psychology and Statistics from the University of Texas at Austin. Matt also completed two years of postdoctoral training in Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin.

          Caron Garstka, MSIS


          Specialties - Research design, user experience testing and moderation, heuristic evaluation, information visualization, wire-framing, project management, writing and qualitative reporting.
          Experience - Since starting with Sentier as a User Experience Researcher in 2015, Caron has worked extensively with user experience projects, including both usability and accessibility testing and heuristic evaluations. She develops study protocols, oversees recruiting, moderates user experience sessions, and analyzes qualitative data. Before Sentier, Caron spent 3 years working for the University of Texas School of Information as both an undergraduate and graduate researcher.
          Education - Caron holds an MS in Information from the University of Texas at Austin with specializations in user experience, interaction design, and information architecture.

            Kelly Terry, MS

            Managing Partner

            Specialties - Kelly has more than twenty-five years of technology assessment, business development, and technology commercialization experience.
            Experience - Kelly is founder and Managing Partner of Sentier Strategic Resources, LLC. She has also founded 3 other companies in the intellectual property development and licensing space.
            Kelly serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of The Refuge, a charitable organization supporting the recovery efforts of human trafficking victims, as well as serving on the Board of the SA Christian Hope Resource Center, Inc., a charitable organization serving the San Antonio community. She has also been a member of several economic development committees for the city of San Antonio.
            Education - Kelly holds an MS in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business and IC2, University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a BBA in Finance from Texas Tech University.

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              401 Congress Ave, Suite 1540
              Austin, TX 78701  USA

              1403 Rio Grande St.
              Austin, TX, 78701 USA