Say hello to the many friendly faces which make up the Digital Civics team at Open Lab.

Rachel Pattinson

I manage the EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Digital Civics and the Digital Economy Research Centre. I work closely with the academic directors and I’m responsible for administration and communications for the CDT, as well as organising training events and summer schools. I also work with Open Lab’s industry and community partners and stakeholders.

David Kirk

I am Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and Director of Open Lab. My work focuses on the design of interactive computational technologies. I’m particularly interested in design research methods and the ways in which technology design can be centred on the rich understanding of user experiences, cultures and contexts.

Peter Glick

Does technology function at the human level?

Technology could be of benefit to all our communities, but I see it failing to be utilised to its potential in many areas, with my personal focus being on families that have children with long-term complex needs. The National Health Service in England has committed to delivering a Personalised Care policy and I believe that technology has a role here,

Sami Abosaleh

During my Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering I oriented my studies towards graphics, electronics and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). During my exchange semester in Brazil, I opted for studying game design and illustration. Furthermore, I have worked on 3D modelling and printing, music production and game development.

In recent years I have worked in the humanitarian field in various NGOs in Greece as an Arabic interpreter as well as a member of a Makerspace (‘Mikri Polis’ FabLab) aimed at supporting the refugee community and marginalised groups.

Colin Watson

My interests lie in digital exclusion from national and local government services, the effects of this on individuals and communities, and resultant lack of opportunity.

In my MRes Digital Civics at Open Lab I examined how to help citizens make best use of resource-limited advice and support appointments provided by local councils and charities,

Alexandra Tzanidou

I am an informatician by background and a really curious person by nature. I am getting excited when a conversation regarding advances in science and technologies rises, and I am always trying to be involved in projects related to Accessibility.
My main interests are focusing on Human-Computer Interaction and Smart Systems.

Hattie Rowling

I completed an MSc in Computing and IT at Northumbria University in 2017 where my dissertation examined aspects of the pedagogy of teaching programming to secondary school pupils. Prior to this I did my undergraduate studies in English Literature at the University of Kent and then spent time working in the charity sector.

Irina Pavlovskaya

I have a multidisciplinary background. I studied Economics at the Siberian Federal University before completing an MSc in International Marketing at Newcastle University. During my MSc I focused on researching the decision-making process of potential Further Education students in order to help them make an informed choice of study programme and institution.

Vasileios Ntouros

As a bachelor student, I graduated from the Marketing School of Athens University of Economics and Business. For almost a year I went off the big cities, exploring small-scale agriculture as a volunteer. This hands-on experience on rural life and farming led me to apply for the MSc “Environment and Development of Mountainous Regions” held by the National and Technical University of Athens.

Agata Jałosińska

I completed my MA in Anthropology at Warsaw University. The research I conducted was designed to complement my professional work and answer the question of the role of internet and new media technologies in the political strategies of non-profit organisations. The study was comprised of two years of fieldwork, IDI’s and participant observation of communities around NGO’s and mediated through new media technologies practices of participation in political activism.

Jack Holt

I graduated from Keele University with a BSc in Psychology with Music in 2012, for which I completed a final project that focussed on the effects of musical excerpts of differing valence and loudness on skin conductance and heart rate. My dissertation addressed the unpredictable effect of loudness when using physiological measures as indications of emotional responses to music.

Andrew Brown

I have an interest in media and film technologies and have a Bachelor’s degree in Film Production Technology from Staffordshire University. I graduated in 2009 and my final project investigated contemporary camera technology.

Recently I completed a Masters in Computer Science here at Newcastle University, where I have gained an interest in software development.

Bobbie Bailey

I have developed a specific interest in understanding how we can utilise placemaking and place marketing practises to change perceptions and foster a renewed sense of pride in our towns and cities. Following the completion of a master’s in Planning, I have worked at Transport for London as part of a team that developed the Future Streets Incubator programme.

Adam Parnaby

I am a postgraduate researcher, designer, and maker. Before joining Open Lab, I spent several years designing live games and escape rooms utilising custom-built electronics and software. Prior to that, I studied Physics at Durham University. I have designed and built a variety of technologies including automated radiation monitors, digital noticeboards,

Mohaan Biswas

My research centres around the gig economy and platform capitalism. During my PhD I will be designing digital systems to support couriers and delivery drivers working for gig economy platforms.

Prior to starting at Open Lab, I worked as a motorcycle courier in London for a number of digital platforms and was an elected branch official for the Couriers and Logistics Branch of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB).

Jan Smeddinck

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Digital Health at Open Lab and the School of Computing at Newcastle University in the UK. Prior to this appointment I spent one year as a postdoc visiting research scholar at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) in Berkeley and I retain an association with the TZI Digital Media Lab at the University of Bremen in Germany.

Arlind Reuter

I have a background in Psychology (University of Magdeburg, Germany) and specialised with a M.Sc. in Clinical and Health Psychology at Newcastle University. My research interest lies in the field of ageing and throughout my MRes in Digital Civics at Open Lab I have explored the possibilities that HCI offers older adults beyond the scope of assistive technologies only.

Kieran Cutting

My background is in interdisciplinary social sciences, primarily focusing on the intersection between political theory, geographies, philosophy and phenomenologies. During my BA at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, I conducted a number of studies concerning the presence of the university in a relatively small, rural town and the impacts the student population had upon the long-term resident community,

James Hodge

I graduated in 2017 at Newcastle University with a BSc in Computer Science. During my time in 3rd year I focused my undergraduate project in creating positive experiences using Virtual Reality for people living with dementia that resulted in prototypes that explored the importance of using personal and non-personal designed VR environments which resulted in participants to feel relaxed and experienced a form of reminiscence therapy.

Hazel Dixon

I am an educational researcher within Open Lab specialising in education, games design thinking, creativity, and sex and relationship education (SRE).

Before beginning the CDT Digital Civics programme, I studied for an MSc in Technology Enhanced Learning at Durham University as well as a BA (Hons) in Education Studies (Philosophy).

Siobhan Macfarlane

Before joining the Digital Civics research initiative at Open Lab, I worked in a range of settings across social work and adult social care. Working alongside carers, older adults, disabled people and people living with dementia shaped my research interests. Valuing relational models of social care, aligned with a parallel interest in inclusive,

Rebecca Nicholson

Before joining Open Lab I was a teacher of Music and Drama at a large secondary school in the West End of Newcastle.

Broadly, my research interests lie in education and social justice, particularly the availability of Performing Arts education and ways in which digital technology can be used to facilitate this.

Megan Venn-Wycherley

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2016 with a BSc in Computer Science with Industrial Placement. During my time on placement I worked at the National Air Traffic Service as a Systems Engineer. I helped to develop scenario-based training for the internal service management framework.

This lead to my interest in the potential applications of scenario-based learning in an educational environment.

Bing Zhai

Before start my Digital Civics Research life in OpenLab, I spent a couple of years in manufacturing industry as an IT manger to develop and deliver IT solutions. My experiences and skills cover web application design, ERP software developing, business intelligence coding, automate 3D design and also a bit of embedded coding on RasberryPI and Arduino to interact with various sensors and actuators.

Erkki Hedenborg

I have a background in Political Science and Area Studies, with an MA in Economy, State and Society from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London and the University of Helsinki.

I worked on a crowdsourcing platform for a Finnish town with the aim of fostering a more open dialogue between citizens and the public sector.

Matthew Snape

After graduating in Law and studying International Business as a postgraduate I left the UK to explore the world. Before I left, I worked as a Volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau in my hometown for a year. My role as a Generalist Adviser was to empower people in my local community to overcome the legal and practical problems they faced.

Ashley Adamson

I am a Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Newcastle University, and lead a research team in Public Health Nutrition Research with the Human Nutrition Research Centre, and the Public Health Improvement theme in the Institute of Health and Society. Through my work I seek to understand the complex relationships between the food environment,

Dalya Al-Shahrabi

Before joining Open Lab, I did my undergraduate degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I spent a couple of years designing and building educational exhibits for science museums before switching career paths and becoming a mobile developer. I spent three years in the dungeons of IT, building website,

Ebtisam Alabdulqader

Graduated in 2019

Broadly speaking, my research interests are in human-computer interaction, social computing, and health informatics.

My main research focus is in the area of mobile health and social care technologies, and I work in collaboration with NHS Hospitals and the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University.

Taghreed Alshehri

I have a background in Management Information System (MIS), which is similar to HCI in the way it is taking a middle ground between social studies and technology. I’ve found the difference is that while MIS is organisation oriented, HCI is more community oriented. As such, I made this little shift from MIS to HCI due to my interests in human rights and activism.

Rob Anderson

I have a background in computers and tech, with a special interest in making apps and websites.

I graduated from Newcastle University in Computing Science, doing my dissertation with App Movement. Here I created a new app template that allows anyone to collaboratively design how-to apps and publish them on the App Store,

Sarah Armouch

I am from Beirut, Lebanon. I am a PhD student at Open Lab. I hold a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics and an MPH with a concentration in health promotion and community health from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and an MRes in digital civics from Newcastle University. I worked as a project and training coordinator at the Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP) at the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB.

Rosie Bellini

My background is originally in philosophy, with specific interests in political philosophy, phenomenology and challenging preconceptions towards the commodification of the body in sex work. To expand my ability to apply theoretical frameworks to modern day problems, I undertook an MSc in Computer Science, completing my thesis within Open Lab.

Nataly Birbeck

I did an undergraduate degree in Sociology at Newcastle University, graduating in 2011. I used a Bourdieusian framework for my dissertation and focused upon the social implications of eating practices, looking specifically at vegetarianism. My research explored the notions of identity linked to vegetarianism and the forms of censure vegetarians experienced.

Colin Bone Dodds

My research interests relate to music and education. I am currently exploring the benefits of connecting music classes with local musicians through remixing activities. This has led me to develop Remix Portal, a web browser application that facilitates music remixing. It was deployed and evaluated within a school,

Simon Bowen

I am a ‘designer-researcher’ – a designer who also researches design and its application. Since 2009, I have coordinated and participated in design research projects in health and social care services, the creative economy, cultural heritage, personal media, and urban transport.

Through this work, I have developed research on the value of making in collaborative projects,

Alex Bowyer

I believe that computers can do a much better job of making our lives easier.

Today we all have lives that are intertwined with the digital, but they are far too fragmented across different siloes, platforms and providers, and if computers are really to live up to their potential,

Pam Briggs

I am interested in the ways that trust relationships are established online and in how the sharing of personal experiences can be used for social good. I often work with communities that face digital citizenship challenges and so, for example, I have explored digital identity management and disclosure preferences in communities of older adults,

Hanna Celina

My work focuses on civic education and implementing student-led learning environments online. My current project is an online education platform, On the platform, we have been running online courses with an activist focus, including Online UWC, a brand of short courses for young people on civic engagement topics including sustainable development,

Clara Crivellaro

My background is in Arts and Design. I am interested in the role of creativity in democracy and how HCI technology and design can support forms of social activism and innovation in the everyday politics of place-making through action-based activities. As part of my post-doc research I am currently exploring the role of technologies and design in supporting participation in the re-imagination of local parks’ services delivery and practices.

Andy Dow

As computers permeate more and more aspects of our lives, it becomes increasingly important that we consider those marginalised or excluded by new innovations. Especially, when we consider that digital systems have shown the potential to provide a means of self-expression and even emancipation. In embarking on a PhD program of HCI research in Digital Civics at Open Lab,

Nikolai Gad

Political participation and public involvement in political decision making are my main interests and over the years I have developed a great interest in the interplay between digital technologies and democracy. I have a background in political science from University of Copenhagen and during the past couple of years I have done a master in digital communication at the IT University of Copenhagen.

Andy Garbett

My research focuses on enabling citizens to take a leading role in the commissioning and design of technologies and services that support new models of participation between communities and local government. I believe in designing technologies that can be deployed and studied within a real-world context and have previously developed a number of platforms using this approach:

  • App Movement: An online platform that enables citizens to commission,

Euijin Hwang

I have a background in Industrial Design and Digital Media Design for Education. My current research interests are in long distance relationships and parent-child relationships under Korean perspectives within HCI.

Through experience-centred design approach, I look closely at the lived experiences of Korean international students in terms of their series of tough moments,

Dan Jackson

My research is in the areas of ubiquitous computing and technologies that support health and wellbeing. I helped to establish the Open Movement platform, whose ‘AX3’ device has been widely used in movement research and population studies. This has led to recent work focussed on movement sensing with wearable computing,

Phil James

I am a Senior Lecturer in GIS and Chartered Geographer, and my main interest is in using data to solve problems. I currently lead Newcastle’s Urban Observatory programme, monitoring the city at many scales using IoT sensors. I work widely with researchers from Engineering, Earth Sciences,

Ian Johnson

Drawing on political theory, deliberative democracy research, and experience of local democracy communications and educational action research, my research examines reflexive design research methods and how social theory ideals are enacted through sociotechnical interventions, particularly with respect to the characteristics of place as a social agent. My work has been published in CHI proceedings for research into the role of the researcher,

Ahmed Kharrufa

My background is in the software industry but since starting my PhD in computing science in 2007 I have been very interested in the potential of technology to support learning. After finishing my PhD and spending a few years in the educational technology industry I switched to being a full-time researcher.

Karim Ladha

My primary role within the group is producing embedded electronic devices that are used by other researchers.

I am an experienced electronic designer who specialises in making low power sensors that gather or transmit a variety of measurements such as movement, position, environmental conditions and device interactions.

Daniel Lambton-Howard

My research interests lie in exploring how civic engagement can be enhanced through the creation of games.

Questions I am investigating include:

  • How can civic engagement games be used to make engagement processes deeper, broader and more reflective in nature for both participants and stakeholders in that process?

Shaun Lawson

My original background is in engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence, but over the years I have become more and more interested in people rather than things. So, nowadays, I do research around how interactive technology fits into, and shapes, our lives and what that might mean for us all in the future.

David Leat

My day job is in the Education section in Faculty of Humanities and Social Science and my Open Lab interests lie at the intersection where formal and informal learning meet digital technology.

In previous lives I have worked in a field centre and been a classroom geography teacher and a geography teacher trainer.

Clement Lee

Before joining Open Lab I studied Statistics at Lancaster University, with a focus on applying time series models to financial indices and the Land Registry house price index. Towards the end of my PhD studies, I also took up a short-term research job, working on computational statistics with applications to epidemic models.

Jenny Liddle

My research interests include the everyday experiences of older people, and the development of innovative (digital) approaches to address societal challenges such as loneliness, isolation, health and care in later life. I work as a Senior Research Associate across Open Lab and the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University.

Jen Manuel

I have a BA and MA in Town Planning and a MRes in Digital Civics. Prior to joining Open Lab, I worked in the voluntary and community sector both in the planning field and in health, focusing on citizen participation. I facilitated a number of community-led projects including one of the first frontrunner Neighbourhood Plans as well as conducting patient and public engagement for health service reviews.

Matt Marshall

I have a background in computer science where I focused on security and interaction design. My work in digital civics centres around charities, transparency, accountability, and open data. I am interested in producing technologies for charities to produce, collect, and present data about their work and their spending as a way to let them re-frame the dialogue around financial transparency in their favour.

Thomas Maskell

I have an interest in travel, health and how public space affects the way we move and behave. My undergraduate studies were in French and Spanish while my recent background is working for active travel charity Sustrans, working with local communities to help people walk and cycle for their everyday journeys.

Janis Lena Meissner

Before starting the doctoral training in Digital Civics at Open Lab (Newcastle University), I studied Media Informatics both on an undergraduate and postgraduate level at the Vienna University of Technology. Between my bachelor’s and master’s I gained some professional experience at an Austrian governmental institution as well as in consulting services for a software company.

Lydia Michie

Coming from a background in human geography at the University of Liverpool, I first became interested in women’s sexual health after undertaking my dissertation in Mississippi, where I explored the relationship between religion, sexuality and abstinence education in the Bible Belt. I then moved to Newcastle University to study a Master of Public Health and continued to focus my research on women’s health,

Kyle Montague

My expertise and research interests include human-computer interaction, accessibility, wearable devices and mobile interaction, social computing, and healthcare technologies. The underpinning goal of my work has always been to create useful and usable technologies that improve people’s access to information, products, and services. I am very much interested in exploring how we can use digital technologies to empower individuals in today’s society.

Kellie Morrissey

I’m a psychologist by background. My research focuses on the experiences of people with dementia and their carers, and the potential for digital design and technology to help them live meaningful and connected lives within their communities. I carried out my PhD in the School of Applied Psychology,

Tom Nappey

My background is set in the field of industrial design where I’ve gained experience working with major companies including Unilever, Philips, Mars, and Bowers & Wilkins to name but a few.

My role as a designer is mainly centred around the ideation, design and fabrication of micro-electronics hardware with expertise in 3D modelling software and render packages to produce industry standard mass manufacturable designs.

Stuart Nicholson

I have a background in Computer Science and information communication technology within Secondary Education from the University of Sunderland. I recently finished my master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Newcastle where I completed my thesis within Open Lab.

Timur Osadchiy

My research interest is around making the Internet of Things (IoT) seamless and user friendly for people with no technical background.

The Internet of Things is widely considered as the next digital revolution, enabling significant improvement of public services by turning them into smart environments augmented with a wide range of sensors collecting various types of data.

Sean Peacock

Hello! I’m a PhD student here at Open Lab. My research looks at how digital technologies and engaging activities can support young people to make better cities for the future. Urban planners and designers often overlook youth, and I think this is wrong. Prior to this, I worked as an urban planner in local government,

Sebastian Prost

I have a background in human-computer interaction (MSc from Vienna University of Technology, Austria) and in sociology (BSc from University of Vienna, Austria). In my Digital Civics MRes and PhD, my research explores questions of food democracy, alternative food networks, food justice and social innovation. In particular, I am interested in sustainable and ethical food systems that are just and accessible for all,

Aare Puussaar

My previous work involved spatial mobility – using computational methods to derive insights from raw data in order to understand human behaviour.

My current interests lay in understanding the relationship between data, information and knowledge. I am interested in exploring how can we configure technology to serve the needs of the citizens and how to provide people the tools to reclaim the ownership of their data.

Jay Rainey

My research explores the design of digital tools to make qualitative research practices more participatory, inclusive, and accessible for everyone. Initially, I worked with academics and a local charity organization to examine and augment their existing qualitative practices through deploying prototypes.

This action-oriented approach informed the iterative design of Gabber,

Dan Richardson

I’m a postgraduate researcher and software engineer with a passion for co-developing mobile technologies within communities and schools. Using participatory design, I engage with stakeholders to produce and deploy mobile applications and full-stack web technologies which aim to empower them as citizens.

My research focus is around how mobile learning technologies can be used to better surface and utilise the civic value of places,

Sunil Rodger

My PhD research focuses on the experiences of disabled people in the built environment. It looks at how power wheelchair users and people with muscle-wasting conditions experience towns, cities, and public transport, and the ways in which technologies might be used by these communities to bring about more accessible public spaces.

Vidya Sarangapani

My life-roles span around being a researcher, educator, learner, mother, warrior, feminist and seeker.

As a researcher at Open Lab, I work with schools in England to examine how they are engaging with digital technologies for teaching and learning purposes. I specifically look at the impact of digital technologies in developing thinking skills in young people within the context of cross-cultural learning and the role of brokerage to facilitate the above. 

Moozhan Shakeri

I am currently working as a Research Associate on projects funded by Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC) with Dr. Rob Comber and Prof. Geoff Vigar. Having completed my PhD on the use of digital games in participatory planning practices at University of Manchester, I joined OpenLab in December 2016.

Emma Simpson

I have an undergraduate degree in Food and Human Nutrition, MSc in Public Health and Health Services Research and MRes in Digital Civics.

My research interests are around the impact of digitally collected data on public health and public health service provision. I’m currently working on two case studies to support this research.

Angelika Strohmayer

Graduated in 2019

Broadly, I am interested in the ways in which we can use digital technologies to facilitate a movement towards a more socially just world. I do this by researching the ways in which sex work support services can make use of digital technologies to bridge service delivery and advocacy work to improve access to justice for sex workers.

Reem Talhouk

I have a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition & dietetics and a master’s in public health. My master’s concentrated on health management and policy and I have worked on projects related to social innovation, disaster planning and health regulations.

More recently, my research has gravitated towards working with refugees and marginalised communities.

Mark Tewdwr-Jones

I am Director of Newcastle City Futures and Professor of Town Planning at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. My work relates to planning, land use, historic and contemporary urban change, and community participation in places.

In particular, I am interested in exploring visual methods for active citizen and business participation in cities,

Delvin Varghese

I am interested in issues around the role of technology in International Development. Over the last year, I have been involved in Digital Civics research looking at the intersection of local communities and digital technologies.

My current project, Radio Health Dialogues, looks at how IVR technology can be used to run ‘radio shows’ in resource-constrained settings like India and Lebanon.

Geoff Vigar

I am co-leader of the Digital Local Democracy theme within the Digital Economy Research Centre at Open Lab and Professor of Urban Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. My research focuses on the design of institutions for more participatory and collaborative forms of urban governance.

Vasilis Vlachokyriakos

I am currently running the Open Lab: Athens initiative.

My work centres on designing, developing and evaluating novel, digitally-enabled models of citizen participation that engage communities in developing the future of local service provision, decision-making and democracy.

My PhD and research projects so far have involved a set of experiments into participatory methods in voting systems.

Alexander Wilson

Zander is a doctoral trainee in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics at Open Lab, Newcastle University. His research explores the intersections of digital technology, design, human–computer interaction and town planning, with a focus on alternative and enhanced tools and methods for participation in planning.

Matthew Wood

I have a background in Psychology and Health Psychology, which I approach from a critical and social perspective.

The majority of my work is around Digital Sexualities. I am interested in how digital technology intercepts with sexual identity, and particularly how young people navigate this.

Pete Wright

I am the director of Open Lab.

My background is in applied psychology, and I am particularly interested in how people interact with digital technologies and how digital technology can be used to help individuals and communities to live and work together. This involves not only studying how people use existing digital technologies to achieve things that matter to them,