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

Arlind Reuter

I have a German undergraduate degree in Psychology and specialised with a Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology at Newcastle University, both with projects focusing on the topics of ageing, social networks / social isolation and loneliness.

I am interested in cross-cultural research and in my last project I explored the impact of psychological variables on loneliness by looking into the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the German Ageing Survey.

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

With a background in social work/adult social care across a range of settings: including work with older adults, people with a learning disability and latterly an integrated specialist dementia service, I hold the perspective that those who use support services and their carers have pivotal knowledge about what form their support should take and how best to utilise it,

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.

Edward Harris

I completed my MSc in computer science at Newcastle University in 2017. My thesis explored the application of digital technologies in the field of speech and language therapy; I developed a mobile application with an aim of increasing the autonomy of people with aphasia in everyday reading scenarios,

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.

Dinislam Abdulgalimov

I’m a computer science researcher with an interest in the application of information technologies in day to day life. My previous academic background was in the field of information security as well as some experience of working in industry focused on security issues in developed information systems.

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

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 have a master’s degree in Public Health, concentrating on health promotion and community health, and an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. The public health programme I was enrolled on was a life-changing experience as it was an eye opener to the different complex public health issues faced these days.

Madeline Balaam

I am an interaction designer with a particular interest in public health and women’s health. I really enjoy working with people to develop design ideas, but you’ll rarely see me running a focus group. Instead, I really like to develop playful, provocative and fun methods to help people share experiences,

Tom Bartindale

I specialise in new media production technologies and the opportunities arising from novel interaction technologies, collaborative interaction, mobile and situated computing.

I have a passion for exploring the possibilities for new media production tools, processes and social dynamics, particularly given the vast array of innovative interaction technologies and networking infrastructure now available.

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,

Rob Comber

I am a co-leader for the Digital Local Democracy theme and lead the Collective Action Research Group at Open Lab. My main research interest is in designing and studying technologies that bring people together to achieve change in society.

With this focus I explore topics of participation,

Shauna Concannon

I am currently working with user-generated datasets from social media and apps such as FeedFinder, to better understand the motivations and concerns of particular community groups. Another facet of the work addresses how various stakeholders can access and engage with the data insights, with a view to informing policy decisions.

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.

Wilbert den Hoed

I joined Newcastle University in 2014, undertaking a PhD at Open Lab as part of the MyPlace project. The main aim of the project is to examine older people’s experience of place and mobility in the city of Newcastle, while my PhD specifically looks at how different modes of travel affect the experience of ageing and mobility in urban areas.

Pauline Dixon

I am a Professor of International Development and Education and I am passionate about children’s schooling in poor areas of sub-Saharan Africa and India. My research focuses on gathering large data sets from household surveys as well as projects within schools themselves. I focus on investigating the perpetuated myths around the capability for poor parents to choose schools,

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,

Sven Fischer

My background is in behavioural and experimental economics. I am generally interested in how people behave in strategic interactions and if confronted with very specific incentives, all with the overarching aim to better understand human social and economic behaviour.

In some of my more recent work,

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,

Nicola Green

I joined OpenLab as a Research Associate in early 2017 to work on the EPSRC WEFWebs project consortium led by the University of Glasgow, and including collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow, Newcastle, UCL, Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and Imperial, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and Rothamsted Research.

Sara Heitlinger

My research interests include participatory design local digital democracy. Before joining Open Lab I was a Researcher Co-Investigator on Connected Seeds and Sensors, an 18 month EPSRC-funded Research in the Wild – Internet of Things (IoT) project based at Queen Mary University of London,

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,

Ting Jarusriboonchai

I am an interaction and user experience designer with a computer engineering background. I enjoy all aspects of HCI from very techy detail to abstract design framework. My expertise in the field is computer-supported cooperative work, user experience, and interaction design. My doctoral research focuses on designing and understanding roles of mobile technology in co-located interaction.

Ed Jenkins

As a research software developer I am responsible for the continued support and development of several projects at Open Lab. I work with modern web technologies to build large scalable platforms to support research in a range of areas. I also have experience designing and developing for iOS in a range of genres including social networks,

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.

Reuben Kirkham

My research interests lie in the intersection of ubiquitous/wearable computing and disability rights. This involves the development of technical systems which challenge the existing status quo in disability rights, whilst also accounting for the surrounding legal context.

I have published this work in a range of well-known computing science venues,

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.

Toby Lowe

I’m a Senior Research Associate, working on the social care strand of the Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC). My background is in political philosophy, where I explored the concept of community: what it means, and what a politics that took community seriously would look like.

Following my PhD,

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.

Anja McCarthy

I am a Research Associate working on the Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC) programme. My background is in human geography and local and regional development.

I am working on developing Digital Civics research projects to inform policy and practice particularly at the local level, by working closely with our local council partners on the programme.

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.

Patrick Olivier

I lead Open Lab, Newcastle University’s centre for cross-disciplinary research in digital technologies. I am the principal investigator for the EPRSC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics and the EPSRC Digital Economy Research Centre. I am an expert in the application of social and ubiquitous technologies in education,

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

I have specific research interests in urban/rural planning and public participation in democratic life. Following completion of a master’s in Planning, which included a year’s work placement at Transport for London, I worked as a Planning Officer at Northumberland County Council. This involved shaping planning policies that will guide the location of new developments within Northumberland,

Sebastian Prost

I am interested in sustainable lifestyles and new forms of participatory urban planning. At Open Lab I want to explore how digital technologies can bring together bottom-up citizen initiatives and top-down planning processes. This starts with questions of community engagement and the inclusion of a broad range of stakeholders.

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

I’m a PhD researcher interested in modernising qualitative research methods by embedding these within technologies. My research investigates the challenges and feasibility of this, and examines the use of these technologies by communities for data collection and dissemination, and the processes of consent to make this data publicly available. 

Helen Rice

I have a background in social research, mostly health related. Prior to joining Open Lab I cofounded a cooperative in Scotland promoting self employment as an option for people with long term conditions seeking flexible ways of working.

My current research interests are in health,

Dan Richardson

I graduated in 2014 at Newcastle University, with a MComp in Games Engineering. My dissertations focused on promoting staircase use through gamification and presenting the impact of ageing populations through interactive media.

After a brief flirt with the video games industry (she never called me back),

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.

Holly Standing

I am a medical sociologist by background. My research interests focus on the impact that different forms of technology have on the body and constructions of identity. Through my PhD project I explored impact of living with a Ventricular Assist Device, a mechanical heart pump and alternative to heart transplantation.

Angelika Strohmayer

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.

Mohyddin Tash

I have a background in computer science. I finished my undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the Lebanese University, spent about a year working as a web developer and then went to get my master’s in Computer and Communication Engineering as AUL University in Lebanon as well.

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,

Austin Toombs

My research interests centre on the impact that digital technologies have on how communities are formed and maintained. I am particularly interested in how certain kinds of relationships between individuals within a community are encouraged while others are discouraged, and how various technologies are used to implicitly enforce these distinctions.

Maarten Vanhoof

I’m an academic wanderer. Which is probably why I ended up in this bunch of intellectuals, designers, coders, professors, hipsters, misfits and hopeless romantics that Open Lab is.

My roots, however, go back to the sandy soils of northern Belgium, where I’ve grown up as the oldest son in a family of four before heaping up master’s degrees in Geography and Cultural Studies in Belgium’s tiny,

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.

John Vines

I’m a designer by background, and my research interests tend to focus around issues to do with independence and agency in later life, informal and relational care for people of all ages, and notions of “friendly” and “caring” communities. I’m intrigued by the ways in which digital technologies might support new interactions and engagements between people in relation to these issues,

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.

Daniel Welsh

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2016 with a BSc in Computer Science, with a focus on human-computer interaction. My undergraduate project focused on helping older people translate dietary information into meals through the use of a recipe sharing platform, achieved by implementing a user-centred design process to develop a web application.

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

With Patrick Olivier I co-lead the Digital Civics programme here at 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.