Professor Margot Brereton

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Director, Research Performance

PhD (Mechanical Engineering Design) (Stanford University), Masters (Technology Policy) (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), BSc.Eng (Hons) (Bristol University)

Margot Brereton

Margot Brereton is a national and international leader in the collaborative design of new humanitarian technologies and their interfaces. She designs with real user communities whose needs are typically overlooked in technology development. She has focused on better futures for and the agency of older people, people with intellectual disabilities, connecting people to nature, and fostering use of endangered indigenous languages.

Margot works with particular communities in long term engagements over several years to ensure that designs fit into people’s lives in positive ways with people shaping their evolution. Margot’s approach, which focuses on tangibles, connected interfaces, AI and machine learning technologies, leads to innovative designs and new theoretical understandings and methods in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Margot is Professor of Engineering and Interaction Design in QUT’s School of Computer Science and Director, Research Performance at QUT’s Institute for Future Environments. She has served on the Australian Research Council College of Experts. Margot has raised over $6 million in competitive grant funding, published more than 230 fully peer-reviewed papers and supervised 14 PhD students to completion. She began her career as an apprentice at Rolls Royce aircraft engines and holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering Design from Stanford University.

 

Broad area of research:Human-Computer Interaction, Participatory Design, Interaction Design, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Design Methods, Ubiquitous Computing, Socio-technical Systems

Additional information

DO YOU NEED RESEARCH EXPERIENCE? I NEED GOOD RESEARCH STUDENTS. I currently supervise 6 wonderful PhD students and 2 post-docs. If you are interested in PhD, honours, Masters or postdoctoral research study, please contact me. In particular I am looking for students to work and to train in research on the funded  projects below.  Scholarships are available for qualified candidates. If you have skills/interests in design, user-centeed research, tangible interaction, visualisation, ethnographic research, participatory design, electronics design, app development,  IT  or software engineering,  and want to further develop your research skills through higher degree research, please do get in touch.

  1. HUMAN INTERACTION WITH AI AND MACHINE LEARNING:
    Our goal Is to change the design of machine learning and AI systems so that humans and machines use their different abilities to learn together for mutual benefit – human-machine teaming. Machine learning has been commoditised in areas such as medical image reading, however it typically operates separately from humans, supplanting human skills and leading to deskilling. Using human-computer interaction research techniques, co-design and iterative prototyping we aim to devise and evaluate exemplar systems that support humans to interactively frame problems, explore and learn, while utilising and improving machine models, leading to a guiding framework for designing human-machine teaming. Domains of investigation are radiology training, environmental monitoring, and children’s learning.
  2. AMBIENT NATURE NETWORK – NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO AND THROUGH NATURE: This project aims to reconnect people with nature through new technology. Events in nature occur at times, places and scales that are hard to witness, leading to human disconnection from nature. This project proposes to address this issue by researching and designing new low-cost devices that combine environmental sensors with new interfaces to reveal local nature in parks and gardens in calm, engaging ways within and between homes in medium and high density environments. Outcomes will include new connected devices, playful interfaces and social sharing mechanisms, an evaluation with local groups, and a new theory of technology supported human-nature interaction. Benefits will include better community connection to nature, engagement in local citizen science, environmental initiatives and novel monitoring services and products.
  3. CO-DESIGNING ACTIVITIES AND TECHNOLOGIES TO REVITALISE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES: This project aims to understand how an Australian Indigenous language, Kuku Yalanji, is used across inter-generational settings and how to foster its use in everyday activities and with technologies. Many Indigenous languages, primarily spoken by Elders in small communities, risk being lost in a few decades together with the rich knowledge and cultural identity they embody. This project will use a community co-design research approach to understand language use and barriers and co-create new technologies and activities for everyday language use. Outcomes will be new knowledge about language use and revitalisation in small communities, new language tools, and Indigenous proto-enterprises at the intersection of culture, language and design. Other Australian languages may be considered.
  4. MAKE AND CONNECT: ENABLING PEOPLE TO CONNECT THROUGH THEIR THINGS: The Internet of Things promises a future in which everyday objects are all connected to the internet enabling them to share data and communicate with one another. The vision is technology centric and the technology is difficult to build. We will research how internet enabled things can be designed and built by everyone young and old, with a domain focus on enabling social engagement and connectedness of older people and distributed families through new forms of connectedness. Outcomes will be new toolkits, a theoretical model, and example networks of objects connecting people in new ways.
  5. NEW INFORMATION ACCESS AND SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY:   This project aims to co-design new interfaces and algorithms for information seeking with people with intellectual disabilities, creating web search technologies that are  accessible to all. Information access is key to independence in making choices in everyday living, however it is still not possible for many people with intellectual disability in Australia. The project will demonstrate the value of diversity in IT design processes by engaging users with intellectual disability in all steps of the process, through interviews, focus groups and iterative prototype testing. Outcomes will be new, inclusive search technologies and social technologies, and a new theoretical framework characterising the new forms of inclusive interactive social search. This project will result in new technologies for searching information and socialising on the web that will improve quality of life of people living with intellectual disability, providing independence and social and cultural integration. It will generate new search engine algorithms  and new interfaces that will benefit all users of search engines still struggling to abstract their information needs to suit current technologies, and demonstrate the value of diversity in inclusive design.

My Experience

  • Discipline Leader – Computer Human Interaction at Queensland  University of Technology
  • Recipient of 10 Australian Research Council grants.
  • 230 peer reviewed research publications
  • Deployment of innovative long term functioning prototypes in several communities e.g Nnub digital noticeboard system, Rhub group mobile social software, and to come…. the Messaging Kettle (or Messaging Rice Cooker, or Message Sticks) which will be deployed to connect families between UK and Australia, within Indonesia and within Aboriginal families in Australia
  • 13 PhD and 2Masters students graduated (6 from University of Queensland (my former workplace) and 9 from QUT) (Aloha May Ambe, Ravihansa Rajapakse, Haziq Abdullah, Ben Matthews, Jared Donovan, Clint Heyer, Fiona Redhead, Tim Cederman-Haysom, Brett Campbell, Ellya Zulhaikha, Hadi Mirisaee, Steve Snow, Amirudin Wahab, Irith Williams, Kate Vaisutis)
  • Chair of OzCHI, Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 2010, 2017
  • OzCHI Doctoral Colloquium Responder/Chair, 2006-2009 , 2011, 2012, 2019
  • Chief Investigator, ARC Centre for the Digital Child, Key Researcher in the CRC for Interaction Design.
  • Reviewing: ACM CHI, conference on Computer Human Interaction; PDC Participatory Design, DIS Designing Interactive Systems; Journal of Computer Supported Co-operative Work; OzCHI; The International Journal of Research in Engineering Design; Design Studies; ASME Design Theory and Methodology; CoDesigning; Design of Augmented Reality; Environments; DesignExpertise; Designing User Experience (DUX); ISWC (International Symposium on Wearable Computing); AUIC. European Commission.
  • 2004 – Present: Member of the Editorial Board, CoDesign.
  • ACM CHI Best paper award 2014
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2019
Details
QUT STEMM (Science, Tech, Eng, Maths, Medicine) Diversity and Inclusion Award
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2019
Details
Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research and Teaching
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2017
Details
QUT Innovation Award - the messaging kettle
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2015
Details
Association oF Computer Machinery (ACM) Computer Human Interaction 2014 Best Paper Award: Brereton, M., Roe, P., Schroeter, R., & Lee Hong, A. (2014, April). Beyond ethnography: engagement and reciprocity as foundations for design research out here. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 1183-1186). ACM. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/72128/4/72128(pub).pdf
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2015
Details
Association oF Computer Machinery (ACM) Computer Human Interaction 2014 Honorable Mention Award: Rogers, Y., Paay, J., Brereton, M., Vaisutis, K. L., Marsden, G., & Vetere, F. (2014, April). Never too old: engaging retired people inventing the future with MaKey MaKey. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 3913-3922). ACM. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/72109/
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2014
Details
2004 University of Queensland Enhancement of Student Learning Award
Title
Human-Machine Teaming:Designing Synergistic Learning of Humans and Machines
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP200103582
Start year
2020
Keywords
Title
Ambient Nature Network: New Technologies to Connect People to Nature
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP190101647
Start year
2019
Keywords
Title
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child (ACDC)
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
CE200100022
Start year
2020
Keywords
early childhhood, longitudinal study, digital engagement, professional development, digital practice
Title
New Information Access Technologies for People with Intellectual Disability
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP160100800
Start year
2016
Keywords
Title
Make and Connect: Enabling People to Connect through their Things
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP150104001
Start year
2015
Keywords
Human-Computer Interaction; Participatory Design; User-centred Design
Title
Earth Soundscapes:A Human-computer Approach to Environmental Sound Analysis
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP170104004
Start year
2017
Keywords
Title
Bio-Acoustic Observatory: Engaging Birdwatchers to Monitor Biodiversity by Collaboratively Collecting and Analysing Big Audio Data
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP140102325
Start year
2014
Keywords
Computer Human Interaction; Crowd Sourcing; Interaction Design and Communities
Title
Digital noticeboards for remote Aboriginal communities: bringing web 2.0 participation to non-western cultures with low English and technical literacy
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP120200329
Start year
2012
Keywords
Noticeboard; Aboriginal Information System; Interaction Design; Participatory Web
Title
Cooperation and Reciprocity at the Local Scale Enabled by Social and Mobile Technologies: An Empirically Derived Theoretical Framework
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP110105127
Start year
2011
Keywords
Human-Computer Interaction Participatory Design Community Informatics
Title
Sociophysical Interactions: Understanding the Role of Social and Tangible Technologies in Maintaining Good Habits into Old Age
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP110101999
Start year
2011
Keywords
Human Computer Interaction; Human-Centred Design; Social Technologies; Ageing; User Experience; Embedded Interactions; Tangible Technologies;