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Professor Kirk is no stranger to Open Lab, having worked here for several years before moving onto Northumbria University, eventually becoming the lead of Digital Living.
During his time at Open Lab Professor Kirk, alongside Professor Patrick Oliver and Pete Wright, helped to set up the Digital Civics CDT programme, as well as the Digital Economy Research Centre – both important parts of the growth of the Lab from less than 20 to over 100 people.
Prof Kirk says: “I am immensely proud of how Open Lab has developed and am really looking forward to coming back to the Lab that I helped build. Open Lab is still a young research group compared to some of the HCI groups in the UK, but in its short life we have pioneered new areas and developed a world-leading reputation, which I am keen to see continue and enhance.”
He hopes to look into new ways to grow the Lab by offering a new Masters course based on the current MRes in Digital Civics, and considering new platforms to take the Digital Civics programme global.
“All around the world there are emerging challenges of digital living in both urban and rural areas and as digital technology and data-driven environments become increasingly pervasive, I am keen for Open Lab to be at the centre of thinking and debate about the role of people in our collective digital futures,” he explained.
Professor Kirk will be taking over from Professor Wright, who has been a member of Open Lab for almost a decade now. Prof. Wright is retiring in September, but is hoping to take up a Professor Emeritus position in the Lab, in order to stay involved with the Lab.
Pete Wright said: “It has been exciting and satisfying to see the Lab grow over the last nine years. And although the expansion has not been without its challenges, we have tried throughout to maintain and strengthen what I consider to be Open Lab’s key characteristics: a radical interdisciplinary team, and a focus on human-centred design.”
Over the last decade Open Lab has moved from a small team as part of Newcastle University’s Culture Lab to a world leading HCI group based in the brand new Urban Sciences Building.
“Although I joined Open Lab in 2010, my career in HCI began back in 1986, and since that time the changes in the field have been enormous. Open Lab was very much at the forefront of pioneering these changes, pushing the HCI community to consider ways of understanding the human experience of technology and the role of arts, design and social sciences in HCI. More recently with its Digital Civics and Social Justice programme, the Lab has continued to push at the frontiers of HCI research internationally.”
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