Biographies of the CHI 2013 attendees participating in the Designing For- and With- Vulnerable People workshop.

Pollie Barden, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Pollie Barden is a PhD Researcher in the Media Arts and Technology Programme at Queen Mary University of London. She has designed for people with disabilities, and disadvantaged children. O-Poms is wireless networked backpack system that tracks the contents for people who use motorize wheelchairs. Grab-a-Crab is a job training game designed for people with cognitive disabilities working in the inventory industry. Her PhD research focuses on improving digital technology integration in the everyday lives of older people. She is designing for her future self.

The workshop would be invaluable to my PhD research, especially the vulnerability of researchers in participatory design. The level of loss in my current research is higher than I have experienced in previous work. I am the only person in my department working in participatory design and with older people. Through sharing experiences, I hope to gain new insight in approaching my PhD work.

 Laura Benton, University of Bath, UK

My research interests lie in the field of participatory design for children with special needs. I am PhD student at the University of Bath and am currently writing up my thesis on the use of participatory design methods to involve children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) within the technology design process. One of the main contributions of this research is the development of a new participatory design method specifically tailored for this population. I am also a research fellow on the iLearnRW project at the University of Birmingham, where my work is focused on the involvement of children with dyslexia in the design of a learning tool.

Olav W. Bertelsen, Aarhus University, Denmark

Olav W. Bertelsen: I am an associate professor with the computer mediated activities group at Aarhus University. I have a general interest in understanding IT in use based in the participatory design tradition. A large part of my research has been inspired by human activity theory focusing on processes and artefacts. I have done work on redefining HCI as an aesthetic field. I have been working with design for and in therapeutic domains, and I am hypothesizing that the asymmetry that has to be acknowledged when designing with weak users may also need a place in general design. In the workshop I hope to get a chance to discuss the idea of biographic processes as being just as important as rational processes of negotiation.

Alma Culén, University of Oslo, Norway

Alma Leora Culén is an associate professor at the department of informatics at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research and projects are in interaction design, working both with children and elderly. As it is the Scandinavian tradition, the approach is often participatory. Alma has worked on the development of the children´s museum in Oslo and has cooperation with Oslo School Museum, where her group develops and tests the prototypes for exhibits with children. During the last few years, her work has also involved elderly and she has been concerned with design opportunities and challenges when designing touch-based systems for elderly. 

I am interested in this workshop because I think that better approaches regarding design methods, evaluation methods, and interview methods are possible. But challenges are many and exchanging the experiences and the knowledge is the best way forward.

David Frohlich, University of Surrey, UK

 Will appear here soon!

Mary Galvin, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland

I am a PhD scholar researching how technology can support the patient and caregiver relationship in the context of dementia. This research explores the dialogues surrounding the experience of memory, personhood and care relationships but also the dialogue between those affected by dementia, researcher and design. The workshop Designing for and with Vulnerable People would offer me a space to discuss the vulnerability surrounding these dialogues and an opportunity to learn from other participants on what they and their respective disciplines consider important in the meeting of design and vulnerability; the workshop in turn affording an evoking session but also a chance to improve my own knowledge and capability as a researcher. 

Satinder Gill, University of Cambridge, UK

Satinder Gill is based with the Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge. She received her PhD in Experimental Psychology, 1995, with the University of Cambridge, and has been a Research Scientist with NTT’s Basic Research Laboratories (Atsugi) and ATR (Kyoto) in Japan (1997-1999), held a Joint position with CKIR, Finland and CSLI, Stanford University (2000-2003), and was a Senior Research Fellow at Middlesex University, London (2004-2009). Her work has investigated the processes of transformation in tacit knowing in communication against a backdrop of forms of mediating interactive interfaces. Whilst in Japan, she developed the theory of Body Moves, a pragmatics theory of rhythmic body prosody ascollective acts across persons. Her current research explores the pragmatics of rhythm in speech and music. Satinder is also Associate Editor of the Journal AI & Society: Knowledge, Culture and Communication (Springer), and Edited, ‘Cognition, Communication, and Interaction’, published in 2007 (Springer).

Paula Johnson, Newcastle University, UK

Paula started her career as a nurse and is currently the Research & Development Manager within Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist forensic hospital for people with a learning disability. This is an exciting and challenging role in promoting evidence based practice and research for patient benefit within the Trust. Paula also maintains a clinical role as a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist one day/week and has a special interest in research which promotes self-esteem.

The workshop provides the opportunity to share with other researchers the experience of working with a very complex, risky and yet vulnerable population in the process of designing artefacts which are safe, interactive and engaging. At the same time it offers the opportunity to learn from the experience of others for the cross fertilisation of ideas and knowledge exchange which may be applicable in one’s own setting and future research.

Michael Massimi, Microsoft Research, UK

Michael Massimi is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Socio-Digital Systems group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. His research focuses on technology’s role during life-changing events such as marriage, parenthood, and the death of a loved one. His work has explored the role of technologies for social support, communication, and memory as they relate to these transitory times. He has worked with several vulnerable populations including bereaved individuals, older adults, individuals with language disorders, patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and family members of hospice residents. He serves as the Webmaster of the International Working Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement and was awarded the Noah Thorek award for contributions to Bereaved Families of Ontario – Toronto. He is an alum of the Health Care, Technology, and Place doctoral training program at the University of  Toronto, where he earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science.    

Joanna McHugh, Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland

Dr Joanna McHugh is a postdoctoral research fellow at Dublin City University. She completed her experimental psychology Ph.D in Trinity College Dublin. She then moved to the TRIL (Technology Research for Independent Living) Centre, where she worked on various projects exploring the capacity for ICT to improve the lives of older adults. She is now working on “Dem@Care”, a project exploring the potential of sensor technologies and ICT for improving the lives of older adults with dementia. Working with technical partners across Europe, Dr McHugh and the DCU team are strong advocates for the person-centred approach to dementia care, and extrapolate this to a user-centred approach to dementia design. She is interested in participating in the workshop because she would like to learn more about the role of clinical researchers in multidisciplinary teams. It is felt that in this scenario, advocacy for such a vulnerable population group is required, to ensure that the push of the individual need is the guide of the project, rather than the development of technology. 

Shailey Minocha, The Open University, UK

Dr. Shailey Minocha is a Reader in Computing in the Centre for Research in Computing at The Open University, UK. Shailey’s recent research initiatives have focussed on how social software such as blogs, wikis and 3D virtual worlds can support reflection, socialisation, collaboration, and training and skills development. Shailey is currently leading a research project ( on the role of online social interactions in supporting people aged 65 or over to avoid or overcome social isolation, to maintain and develop social connectedness, and to build supportive relationships and companionship.  In the context of this workshop, Shailey is particularly interested in discussing with colleagues about research methods and strategies related to conducting research involving older people in the design of products, services and online environments for older people.

Kellie Morrissey, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland

I completed my BA in Applied Psychology in 2012 and am currently pursuing my PhD here at the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork. My PhD research, supervised by Dr. John McCarthy, takes for its focus the design of assistive technologies for persons with dementia and their carers. My research centres particularly on the possibilities of using participatory design techniques with this population; in doing so, it is hoped that the emerging vision of participatory research will be one that, in this context, is both democratic and emancipatory, and which will also support a vision of participants as always skilful and resourceful. My interest in participating in the CHI 2013 workshop on designing for and with vulnerable people is rooted in a desire to discuss these and related issues in an inter-disciplinary context, with people who have interest in working with vulnerable populations. 

Cosmin Munteanu, National Research Council Canada, Canada

Dr. Cosmin Munteanu is a Research Officer with the National Research Council Canada (NRC). His area of expertise is at the intersection of Automatic Speech Recognition, Natural Language Processing, and Human- Computer Interaction, having conducted research aimed at improving humans’ access to and interaction with information-rich media and technologies through natural language. Presently, Cosmin leads several academic and industrial research projects that explore speech and natural language interaction for mobile devices, assitive technologies, and mixed reality systems, while also serving as an internal reviewer for applications to the NRC Research Ethics Board. 

Mark Nazemi, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Mark Nazemi is a Ph.D. student in the Interactive Arts & Technology program at Simon Fraser University. His research focuses on developing interactive and generative audio systems for managing pain level in patients with chronic pain. In addition, he is co-owner of Stylus College of Music & Sound Technology in Vancouver. For a full biography, you may visit

We would like to attend the CHI Designing for – and with – Vulnerable People workshop to share our research with the CHI community and to obtain constructive feedback regarding our project. We believe that this research is important as it affects patients who suffer from chronic pain and arthritis. In addition, we would like to network with other fellow researchers and learn about new and exciting research that is providing support for vulnerable people. During the workshop, we will have demos of our project available for people to try. 

Jente de Pee, Philips Research, The Netherlands

I am Jente de Pee, Research Engineer at Philips Research in Eindhoven. I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and last September I finished my graduation project of the master studies Human- Technology Interaction at Philips Research. My graduation project was about measuring the affective state of people with severe dementia, the topic of the paper that I submitted to the workshop, and currently I am doing research towards a (software based) tool to support women with breast cancer.

I have always been attracted to working with “difficult”, or “sensitive”, or “vulnerable” target users, probably because for me it adds an extra dimension to doing user studies. I find it interesting to search for and find ways to acquire valuable information while still respecting (the rights of) the user, and I hope this workshop will provide more or new insights into this. 

David Hakken, Indiana University, USA

David Hakken is an anthropologist now teaching and directing the Social Informatics Program at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing.  After twenty-six years in the State University of New York, he moved to IU to promote more directly technologies that expand rather than undermine human capabilities, such as assistive technology for people with disabilities. His ethnography of information aim to understand the ways social relations and digital technologies mutually shape each other. His Participatory Design work aims to create Socially Robust and Enduring Computing. This program also includes studies of Free/Libre and/or Open Source Software use and development, computing ethics, as in the role of computing in the current crisis, and changes in values associated with computing. His research has been grounded in England, Scandinavia, Upstate New York, Malaysia, China, and Indiana. His last Routledge book, The Knowledge Landscapes of Cyberspace, was published in 2003.

Will Simm, Lancaster University, UK

I am a Senior Research Associate in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University. I have been involved in a number of cross disciplinary tech research projects aiming to engage citizens in research, through citizen led projects and research in the wild (and beyond). Research projects include PhD producing tech driven metrics of disordered speech, VoiceYourView which engaged citizens in developing digital consultation tools, studying media convergence in UDesignIt and now the Catalyst project working with community groups to foster citizen-led innovation.

Through the Catalyst sub project #Patchworks, I have worked with homeless adults and can present our experience of engaging the chaotic homeless community in a citizen led tech research project. The next sub-project (Access ASD, recently started) involves engaging adults on the autistic spectrum in a similar process. I can both contribute my experience to the workshop and hope to learn from other participants to inform future work.

Dina Utami, Northeastern University, USA

I am a Ph.D. students in Computer Science at Northeastern University. My research interests lie within the field of Human-Computer Interaction, especially health-centered systems. My work is focused on Relational Agents and how the use of these agents can help patients, especially patients with low health literacy. My current research focuses on developing Embodied Conversational Agents to help people with low health literacy learn about clinical trials, find clinical trials that they are eligible for, understand the informed consent document and improve study protocol adherence. I want to attend the workshop because I believe that information technology, if not designed properly, can become more of a problem than a solution for people who face cognitive, emotional, physical and social challenges. By attending the workshop, I wish to learn as well as to share experience with other workshop participants who is also concern with this issue.

Elizabeth Valentine-House, BBC Research and Development, UK

I am a Research Scientist at BBC Research and Development, Salford, UK. I work on a variety of qualitative and quantitative user-focussed research projects that relate to media across platforms such as mobile, tablet, desktop, radio and television. My work can involve a wide variety of users, from toddlers to the elderly, from the general public, to those with specific visual or hearing losses or those with complex access needs.

The research with students having Cerebral Palsy at Beaumont College, Lancaster, required me to relearn communication techniques and etiquette and to refine and adapt research methods. I am highly interested in the experiences of others at the workshop and the techniques they have used, both with success and unsuccessfully and also aim to share my insights with others.

Jenny Waycott, The Unoiversity of Melbourne, Australia

I am a Research Fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne, working on the project “Growing Old and Staying Connected: Touch Screen Technology for Ameliorating Older People’s Experience of Social Isolation”. Previously, I spent ten years working in the field of educational technology, examining the use of social and mobile technologies in higher education. In my past research, I had not worked with older people, nor examined sensitive topics such as social isolation. Since beginning work in this field 12 months ago, I have found it to be a rewarding, yet challenging experience to work with vulnerable older people. My aim in participating in this workshop is to learn more about issues that need to be considered when conducting research with vulnerable people. 

Joseph Wherton, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Joe is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary University of London. His work involves ethnographic and user-centered design methods to support the development of assisted living technologies (ALTs) for older people. His Psychology PhD (University of York, 2004-2008) focused on the design of ALTs for people with dementia. His post-doctoral research (Trinity College Dublin, 2008-2011) was conducted in collaboration with University College Dublin, Intel, and St James’s Hospital to develop ICTs for older people at risk of loneliness and isolation. Joe currently works on the ATHENE project with the co-authors, Prof Trisha Greenhalgh, Prof Rob Procter, Paul Sugarhood, Dr Sue Hinder, Dr Mark Rouncefield and Dr Guy Dewsbury. The workshop will provide an opportunity to present and discuss methods developed within ATHENE to illuminate the assisted living needs of older people in domestic settings, and involve them in the co-design of ALTs. 

Jill Woelfer, University of Washington, USA

Jill Palzkill Woelfer is a PhD Candidate at University of Washington. Since 2007, she has engaged in research, service and design projects investigating experiences that homeless young people have with information systems and technologies. For example, in 2008 Jill co-created a community technology center where she worked with 100 homeless young people over 18 months. In another example, Jill is currently leading a project where homeless young people and other neighbors are working together to put on a show of art by homeless young people. The art was created as part of Jill’s dissertation study, an exploration of music and homeless young people. Jill has served on an Institutional Review Board at the University of Washington since 2009 and regularly engages in discussions regarding human subjects and research. Jill has a number of publications – including reflections on the value of precaution when engaging with homeless young people – which can be found at