email@example.com | Research Associate
I joined Open Lab 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. The project as a whole seeks to model the interrelationships between Water, Energy and Food in respect of sustainability at different scales of action and interaction amongst multiple social actors, from the micro-level of everyday interactional relationships, through to local/community organisation, to more macro-level regionally-based physical, economic and organisational infrastructures, and national policy-based and regulatory mandates.
Dr Rob Comber leads on the Newcastle stream of research, where we are concentrating on the domestic WEF nexus as a centrally important locus of endpoint use and consumption in respect of interrelated WEF resources, prioritising a human-centred approach to sustainability-based societal challenges. This stream of the research uses HCI theory and research and CMC to focus on WEF consumption in urban UK domestic spaces and places, and examines questions related to: the ripple effects of WEF resource use in domestic nexus relationships; WEF nexus use and consumption as practices and processes beyond notions of ‘behaviour’ or ‘experience’; WEF practices as distributed across time, space and activities beyond isolated resource ‘events’; the dis/junctures in communications and interactions between different actors and scales in domestic consumption settings; and the dis/aggregations of different kinds of data that allow researchers to map knowledge across different times, scales and relationships.
I come to this project having a training and background in interdisciplinary social science, being a sociologist by trade, and an interdisciplinary researcher by inclination. My background has run the gamut of Social Sciences, HCI, Science and Technology Studies, Media and Cultural Studies and Surveillance Studies; all intersecting via projects on digital media technologies and/or sustainabilities of various sorts. My earliest PhD research was an international multi-sited ethnography of virtual reality technologies exploring issues in embodiment, identity, organisation and discourse – across the three domains of popular entertainment, arts, and digital-DIY/ experimentation. This was followed by various UK-based research projects focussed on mobile devices and everyday mobilities – addressing issues including everything from mass mobile consumption and the early emergence of normative everyday usage practices [ESRC, Mobile Providers, BT], through to the organisation and regulation of mobile data [Intel] and the informational policy challenges presented by the generation and use of such mobile-generated data – including dimensions of trust, risk and privacy. A little later I was involved in projects centred on Sustainabilities more explicitly – including the RESOLVE project via the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey, and UK/NZ Sustainability research exchanges via the British Academy. Throughout these projects I’ve also had an enduring interest in the development of qualitative research methodologies and their use in both HCI research and within Social Sciences more generally – particularly in respect of Ethnographic, Mixed, Feminist and Participatory methodologies. I have also more recently become interested in ‘Big Data’ across these research strands – especially in terms of normative generation and use of big data across devices and systems, data sharing, and ethical informational ownership and control.