Welcoming a new Co-Director to the Institute for Design Informatics: Prof. John Vines

It is with absolute pleasure and excitement that we are able to announce that Prof. John Vines has been appointed as Chair of Design Informatics, and Co-Director for the Institute for Design Informatics. The appointment based in the School of Informatics defines a new era in which to extend the development of research at the intersection of design and computing. John will take up the post in January 2021.

John is an expert in human-computer interaction (HCI) and in utilising design-led research approaches to create innovative new technologies. He joins us from Northumbria University, where he has been a Professor in the School of Design since 2017.

While at Northumbria he co-founded the CoCreate research group which supports cross-disciplinary and design-led socially-engaged HCI research, and been a leading figure in establishing NORTH Lab, Northumbria’s ‘virtual lab’ for HCI that brought together key staff from Computing, Psychology, Business, and Design to create a vibrant cross-disciplinary research community. John leaves behind the Co-Direction of the UKRI Digital Economy Centre for Digital Citizens, a £3.9m collaboration between Northumbria and Newcastle Universities that builds on the strengths of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics and Digital Economy Research Centre, both of which John was heavily involved in.

“I am absolutely delighted that John is going to be joining us in January 2021.  Undoubtedly this appointment will provide a further stimulus to the, already thriving, collaboration between the School of Informatics and the Edinburgh College of Art and I am excited to see what comes out of it.  John’s interests and skills are highly complementary to existing work in the School and in Design Informatics so this appointment opens up a wealth of future developments.” Prof. Jane Hillston, Head of School in the School of Informatics

John’s research interests are diverse, but much of his work explores how digital and data-driven technologies might promote new forms of participation in society, and empower people to have greater agency and control over their lives. He typically uses participatory methods to involve non-designers and non-technologists in exploring complex new systems and their social implications with design teams. He has strategically focused his research around a cluster of challenges that examine the social, cultural and political opportunities and consequences of emerging technologies. This includes research on health and positive ageing, personal and community health and wellbeing, financial inclusion, and participatory citizenship and civic engagement.

Since completing his PhD in 2011, John’s star has been rising fast with over 80 publications including 42 at the ACM CHI conference. John has received several awards for the papers that he has led and contributed to, with one ‘Best of CHI – Best Paper award’, nine ‘Best of CHI Mention’ awards and two ‘Best of CSCW – Honourable Mention’ awards.

“John’s momentum through HCI in addressing how society wrestles with data-driven technologies, is a brilliant burst of energy for Design Informatics.” Prof. Chris Speed.

John’s interest in the important role of design, as a collaborative and applied practice, brings much to the School of Informatics and the Institute for Design Informatics. It extends our enquiry into complex multi-disciplinary projects, at a time when data-driven and algorithmic systems make it harder than ever for citizens and the public to fathom and make sense of the technologies that surround them.

We are delighted to be welcoming John to the Institute for Design Informatics, the School of Informatics, and Edinburgh.