Researcher. Technologist. Designer.
I'm one of those people who hesitates a bit when asked what I do because I have so many professional roles and interests: I have clients. I perform research. I teach students. I make stuff. Sometimes I even teach students how to perform research and make stuff for clients—but how do I characterize all of the other things that I do?
My background is in physics and engineering, which means I spent the first part of my career making physical things related to science and technology. My time in graduate school was particularly important for this because I worked in a shop that created one-of-a-kind prototypes, and I really liked the challenge of designing and making parts from scratch. I learned early on that the process rewards simple, elegant solutions.
After graduation, I moved into a more formal design role where I spent four years designing telescopes for space satellites. During this time, I relied heavily on my prior experience actually building things, because I knew what would be easy to build and which specs were going to prompt an anxious phone call from the machinists.
In 2008, I started working as a researcher at the RAND Corporation. RAND taught me the value of objective, rigorous research, and I also learned to harness the power of bringing interdisciplinary views from the physical and social sciences together with art and design to solve complicated problems.
The work at RAND turned out to be a great fit for me. I moved from designing physical artifacts to designing and managing research projects to help decisionmakers make informed choices. I've created everything from metrics that assess performance within our national labs to new education systems that can train the problem solvers of the future. And, just as I did back in the machine shop, I still strive for simplicity and elegance.
At the intersection of technology, art, and the human experience.
After many years at RAND, I began to notice a pattern: my work always gravitated toward the intersection of technology, art, and the human experience. Solutions are only going to work if the designer understands the context for how the object will be used, and this understanding comes from research about human behavior and needs. And art is often the connective tissue that can be used to bridge the gap between the technology and the humans.
The rapid pace of tech is driving the world to become more specialized—including the knowledge workers who keep everything advancing. Ironically, amidst all of this specialization, we need people who can work at the intersections, straddling multiple disciplines and fluidly translate between subject matter experts. People who are comfortable with uncertainty and fearless about diving into a situation where they aren't the expert in the room. People who are skilled at seeing patterns and structure where others see mess and disorder.
I help people make sense of the choices they face. I bring a deep understanding of the science and technology that are driving our collective future. And I use all of this context to design smart, intuitive tools people can use to navigate that future.
I am always looking for new collaborations. Please connect with me through LinkedIn if you have an idea on how we might work together.