QUT Design Lab Leadership Team Announced

It is with pleasure I share with you news of the most recent appointments to the Leadership team of the QUT Design Lab. Please join me in congratulating Prof. Marcus Foth in his role as Director of the QUT Design Lab; Assoc. Prof. Thea Blackler in her new role as Associate Director of the QUT Design Lab, and; Dr Debra Cushing in her new role as Higher Degree Research Training Coordinator. I have great confidence in our finalised leadership team for the QUT Design Lab, and I look forward to working with you all to continue to grow and develop a world-class research centre in the School of Design.

Professor Margaret Maile Petty
Head of School / Design


Professor Marcus Foth
Director, QUT Design Lab

Professor Marcus Foth is the Director of the QUT Design Lab, founder and former director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, and Professor in Interactive & Visual Design in the School of Design. He is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark.

Marcus’ research focuses on the relationships between people, place and technology. He is excited to bring the QUT Design Lab’s mission, “Change by Design,” to life by fostering transdisciplinary collaborations that employ design-led research to tackle our most pressing 21st century challenges across health & wellbeing, sustainability, community, and social entrepreneurship.

Marcus received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award 2013, and was inducted by the planning, design and development site Planetizen to the world’s top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of urban planning and technology. He has authored and co-authored over 170 publications in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings, including the Citizen’s Right to the Digital City (Springer, 2015). He was the conference chair of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2016.

Associate Professor Alethea Blackler
Associate Director, QUT Design Lab

Associate Professor Alethea Blackler, PhD, is the new Associate Director of the QUT Design Lab. She is one of the world leaders in her principle area of research, intuitive interaction. She pioneered the first empirical work in the field, has led an ARC Discovery project on Facilitating Intuitive Interaction for Older People, and is currently editing a book on the topic, building upon her substantial publication track record in this area. She is also working in the area of older people and technology and design for dementia (including an EU Horizon 2020 grant project).

She was formally Head of Discipline for Industrial Design at QUT, in which role she excelled at building internal and external links to benefit both students and staff. She has attracted and worked with external partners in government, community and industry on various projects and has had two ARC grants. She is a highly experienced HDR supervisor, has published more than 60 peer reviewed papers, been invited to give presentations internationally and is the recipient of several awards.

Dr Debra Cushing
Higher Degree Research Training Coordinator, QUT Design Lab

Dr Deb Cushing is the new Higher Degree Research Training Coordinator for the QUT Design Lab and a Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture within the School of Design. She is passionate about improving outdoor environments through rigorous research and has worked for many years to create better and more inclusive communities for children and youth. Her current research interests include the exploration of intergenerational park design for increased physical activity, fostering youth participation through policy, promoting effective assessment practices during international study tours, and using public art in urban public spaces for placemaking. Among her endless list of writing projects, she is currently working on a book proposal focused on people and place theory for designing the built environment, and is a section editor for the upcoming International Research Handbook on Childhood Nature (Springer, 2018).

In this new role, Deb brings great enthusiasm to creating a strong community among the current and incoming HDR cohort, supporting successful HDR completions, and ensuring that as a Faculty, we are producing highly qualified design researchers that will help improve the world in which we live.

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