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Researchers

Associate Professor Martin Tomitsch


Head of Design Lab
Associate Professor in Design, Program Director Design Computing
Director of the Design Lab Research Group

Associate Professor Martin Tomitsch’s primary research interest is the application of user-centred interaction design methods and the study of user behaviours to inform the development of novel interfaces and interaction techniques for improving people’s everyday life experiences. In his research he applies these methods to a range of domains, including the urban environment. His research has contributed to the establishment of the field of media architecture, which includes design issues, technological challenges and social aspects around the integration of digital technologies into the urban space. Martin is Head of the Design discipline and Director of the Bachelor in Design Computing.




Dr Naseem Ahmadpour


Lecturer
Dr Naseem Ahmadpour’s research is interdisciplinary and broadly focused on design for wellbeing and life enjoyment. Specifically, she looks at the implications of several psychological theories, including self-determination theory for interaction and game design. She investigates motivation and perceived abilities in relation to behaviours, decisions and experiences in areas of exercise and healthy behaviour and explores new possibilities in design. Her research is aimed at inspiring new technologies that enhance one’s ability to self-regulate and to overcome perceived limitations and therefore enjoy a higher quality of life.




Dr Caitilin de Bérigny


Senior Lecturer
Dr Caitilin de Bérigny’s research is located in interaction design for urban engagement in the built environment. Caitilin is co-leader of the University of Sydney’s Health and Creativity Node at the Charles Perkins Centre and an active member of the Sydney Environment Institute. Caitilin won the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for her contribution to the Indigenous community. Caitilin has over a decade of experience working with indigenous communities, particularly in relation to social inclusion. Caitilin teaches digital media production and visual communication in the Bachelor of Design Computing.




Dr Kazjon Grace


Program Director of the Bachelor in Design Computing
Lecturer

Dr Kazjon (Kaz) Grace’s research explores how computers can participate in the design process as partners rather than tools. His interests span computational design, computational creativity, HCI and AI. He develops computational models of novelty, surprise, and curiosity, and investigates how they can help people make decisions. Kaz's current work involves systems that encourage their users to broaden their horizons: to eat more diversely, to read more broadly, and to overcome design fixation. Previously a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2012-2017), he continues to collaborate with colleagues in the USA. He is the Program Director of the Bachelor in Design Computing, and teaches design programming and physical computing within that program.




Dr Luke Hespanhol


Lecturer
Dr Luke Hespanhol’s research investigates the confluence of digital media, architecture, electronic art, design and technology in the user-centred design of responsive architecture and hybrid urban environments. Luke has explored these possibilities of collective expression through the development of interactive installations in public and semi-public spaces, including multiple editions of Vivid Sydney and other large public art festivals. With more than 15 years experience in software design and development, Luke has also collaborated as a guest researcher at the Department of Aesthetics and Communication at Aarhus University, Denmark, and undertaken a short residency at the Futurelab, Ars Electronica, in Austria.




Dr Lian Loke


Senior Lecturer, Program Director M.IDEA
Dr Lian Loke’s research is at the nexus of design, performance, somatics and technology, and explores the aesthetics of interaction with the body as a central focus. Her research interests lie in understanding the lived experience of people interacting with emerging technologies and exploring how to design future products and systems from such understandings. Her research contributes to one of the major issues confronting the built environment – its ability to foster healthy living. The relationship between creativity, movement and well-being drives the exploration of potential design solutions and methodologies. Lian is the Program Director for the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts, and teaches design thinking, interaction design, somatic user experience design and the design of body-centric, wearable devices and interactive systems.




Dr Somwrita Sarkar


Lecturer
Dr Somwrita Sarkar’s research looks at complex systems and networks in various design, technological, engineering, and biological domains, and developing models and methods to better understand them. Specifically, she works on spectral methods of modularity detection in complex networks and network structure discovery from functional data. Her work in the Design Lab is in the areas of city science research and urban computing, where she develops novel machine learning and data mining methods and uses the physics of complex systems to solve problems in urban design and planning research, especially focused around the social and economic dynamics of housing and transportation in the city. Somwrita teaches data analytics, information visualisation and informatics in the Bachelor in Design Computing.




Dr Karla Straker


Early Career Development Fellow
Dr Karla Straker is an Early Career Development Fellow, in the Design Lab, located in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, at the University of Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) and PhD from the Queensland University of Technology. Her research is in a cross-disciplinary setting exploring the design of digital channel engagements, investigated through theoretical approaches from the fields of design, psychology, marketing and information systems. Her research aims to understanding of howstrong relationships with customers can be built and sustained through a deeper understanding of customer emotions. In her research work she emphasises the design and evaluation of new approaches to the field of design and emotion.




Associate Professor Cara Wrigley


Associate Professor
Dr Cara Wrigley is Associate Professor Design Innovation at The University of Sydney, residing in the Design Lab - an interdisciplinary research group within the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. She is an Industrial Designer who is actively researching the value that design holds in business – specifically through the creation of strategies to design business models which lead to emotive customer engagement. Her primary research interest is in the application and adoption of design innovation methods by various industry sectors in order to better address customer latent needs. Her work to date has crossed research boundaries and appears in a wide range of disciplinary publications.




Dr Jathan Sadowski


Jathan Sadowski is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Smart Cities. His research brings together technology studies, urban geography, political economy, and social theory. He applies this interdisciplinary mix to the study of “smart systems” (data-driven, networked, automated). Jathan’s new project seeks to shift the focus of smart urbanism research from the conceptual to the material and from the speculative to the actual. Through an urban ethnography of smart initiatives in Sydney, Jathan will study how these policies and technologies are designed and implemented, and how are they are used and challenged by community organizations. Thus, the goal is not only to flesh out a better understanding of the actually existing smart city, but also consider how the values communities and users can inform the design of alternative smart cities. This project is grounded in the theory of cyborg urbanization. By emphasizing how material, political, social, and spatial assemblages are made, how they interface with people, and how they impact urban society, this theory provides a useful tool for investigating and interpreting the (smart) city.




Dr Rob Saunders


Dr Saunders has taken on a new position as Associate Professor in Computational Creativity at Falmouth University in Cornwall, but remains with the Design Lab as part-time researcher. His primary research interest is the development of computational models of creativity. The development of computational models of creative processes provides opportunities for developing a better understanding human creativity, producing tools that support human creativity and possibly creating autonomous systems capable of creative activity. His approach to developing computational models of creativity is to develop curious agents and to use these curious agents to simulate creative systems.







Higher Degree Researchers

Karen Cochrane


Karen Anne Cochrane is a PhD Candidate studying with Dr Lian Loke in the Design Lab in the School of Architecture, Design, and Planning. Karen holds a Master’s of Science in Computing from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media from Ryerson University. Her research focuses on how interactive soundscapes developed from a participant's brainwave data can teach mindfulness meditation for people who experience moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression.




Eliel de la Cruz


Eliel De la Cruz was born in the Dominican Republic and started his career in 1996 at the University of Santo Domingo. After getting his BA in Architecture he was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the USA. In 2005 he graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design, and in 2006 went to Georgia Tech for a MS in Design Computing. In 2008-2009 he taught at different universities in Santo Domingo. He is now in his third year of his PhD at the University of Sydney. His research interest is in technology integration in the design process.




Frank Feltham


Frank Feltham is a designer and educator with an interest in the agency of the moving body as a means to express with interactive and sound responsive digital technologies. His recent projects include: The Sonic Blocks, a physical to digital interface for children’s collaborative sound sequencing and composing; and The Musical Staircase, an arrangement of tone generating interactive pads fitted to a public staircase to encourage its use over automated means such as escalators and lifts. Frank’s work has been commissioned, exhibited and published nationally. Since 2012 he has collaborated with Dr Lian Loke through a PhD candidature at the Design Lab, University of Sydney. This design research is examining the relationship between somatics and human computer interaction through the seemingly ordinary act of walking. This relationship is explored through studying walkers and movers on pressure sensitive interactive surfaces that generate sound responses. The introduction of these technologies has shown to alter and enliven the awareness of walking movements, creating potential benefits for injury rehabilitation and posture correction whilst maintaining a creative and deeply engaging activity.




Phil Gough


How do non-expert users compare their affective and effective response to static, moving and interactive visualisation? What do people think of different ways of communicating science? In order to answer these questions, Phil Gough's PhD research uses qualitative methods to compare responses that a general audience has to infographics, video and interactive artworks. Using non-expert user visualisations (NEUVis) that are created with scientific research from CSIRO, he is mapping the emotional and cognitive responses of potential users to information that will help designers and artists deliver visualisations for the general population that are effective and engaging.




Xavier Ho


Xavier Ho's research interest is curious-driven and multi-disciplinary across fields in Human-Computer Interaction, Data Visualisation, and Games Studies. His PhD candidature's primary objective is to understand different types of inspiration in game design, create visual and interactive graphics from his findings, and bring them back to media researchers as a research tool. He currently undertakes his PhD at the Design Lab and works as an Interactive Visualisation Specialist at the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Victoria, Australia. Previously, he has worked in startups for computer vision and machine learning projects. His professional interests include photography, visual arts, computer graphics, game jams, and conference speaking. His work has been exhibited at the Verge Gallery, University of Sydney, and co-authored works at the SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community.




Mohammad Khan


Mohammad Khan has an interest in community development. He began his career in 1991 as Project Architect for the Self-Help Schools Construction Program in Pakistan, followed by a period of free-lance consultancy work, and then a teaching position as Assistant Professor at the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi. He taught the History of Muslim Architecture elective at the University of Technology, Sydney before commencing PhD research at the Design Lab. His work (supervised by Dr. Lian Loke), explores the use of augmented reality technology as a means to help disadvantaged communities make informed decisions about their built environment.




Nikash Singh


From a design background having evolved with workplace experience across Graphic, Web then Interface Design, Nikash is currently pursuing completion of a PhD in UI Design with Assoc. Prof. Martin Tomitsch. His research investigates means of reconfiguring information-system interfaces to better facilitate interaction with time-related (temporal) information. The goal of his research is to help Designers create applications that genuinely keep users informed, by giving them a means of better understanding the psychological factors impacting temporal information interpretation. Nikash has taught Interaction and Interface Design at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning for 7 years and volunteered-in/advocated-for Open Source Software for the same time.




Miruna Sladescu


Miruna Sladescu graduated at the University of Sydney and completed her degree in Architecture with first class honours in 2007. She is a designer and has since been working in the architecture industry on wide range of projects from small scale to large developments. Her interests lie in computational form generation and creative processes that affect the aesthetic and materiality of built space. Her work explores the concept of integrating both art and technology as part of the design process in an aim to enrich the experience of a particular environment.




Sachin Wasnik


Sachin is a Phd Student at the Design Lab, School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney, with a previous background in computer science and engineering. Prior to commencing his Phd, he worked for Large Hadron Collider (ATLAS Project), IBM Software Labs Tivoli Autonomic Computing and Belfast e-Science Centre, UK. His research interests include Cloud Computing, Big Data, Machine Learning, Social Network Analysis. His PhD is on the role of social media in housing market information dynamics. Price dynamics in markets are critically dependent on information and its controlled or uncontrolled flow. With the growing popularity of social media, Sachin’s work looks at machine learning models to understand the covariance of information dynamics on social media (Twitter, newspaper articles) and housing price dynamics.







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