Researcher biography

I study design as a collaborative process that materialises alternative social futures. Those futures are sometimes new products, systems, services, infrastructures and technologies. But they can also be social contracts, agreements, processes, ways of working and new possibilities for our collective lives together.

I currently lead research projects in three broad domains: designing advocacy, designing the materials of participation, and augmenting skill and expertise through design.

The designing advocacy project has worked with a range of stakeholders with reduced agency such as people with mental health needs, chronic illnesses, injured workers, and other stigmatised or at-risk groups. We have developed methods for the inclusion of their perspectives in design processes, insights about their specific conditions and needs, critical analyses of how they are conceptualised from the perspectives of technologists and service providers, and design proposals for services and technologies that amplify their agency.

The designing the materials of participation project develops formats and processes for participatory design—the inclusion of stakeholders in the design of systems that will affect the organisation of their work and life. In this project we study how technologies and systems are used in microanalytic detail, analysing how tools and materials shape people's interactions. We use this understanding as a basis for the design of new methods and processes (and sometimes new matierals) for involving people in the design process, and giving them greater autonomy over the systems they will use.

The augmenting skill and expertise through design project studies specialist work practices for the purposes of developing technology support for that work. We have worked with aeromedical teams, audiologists, passport officers, emergency first responders, quick service chefs, primary school teachers, and other professional contexts of use to understand the local and particular skills that enable those workplaces to function effectively and collaboratively. We use these understandings to inform the deisgn of technologies and work practices that support, and preserve, those core professional skills.

The constants across these projects relate to the design process—the methods used to understand people, identify design opportunities, facilitate collaboration between project stakeholders, champion users' contexts and requirements, prototype early solutions, evaluate concepts in the field, and build new technologies. This results in a variety of research contributions: new design methods and perspectives that have been tailored for specific contexts of use, identification of the potentials and limitations of different approaches to design and analysis, the discovery of context-specific issues for the design of new systems, new understandings of people, their work and contexts of use, and the design and evaluation of bespoke technologies.

Areas of research