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Dr Abigail Durrant

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria School of Design

I am an interaction designer and researcher predominantly working in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

My research addresses the significant design challenges that we face for managing identity in our everyday interactions with digital technologies and personal data. I have explored the digital representation of selfhood in the context of family relationships and legacies, major life transitions, memorialization and cultural visiting, human rights media, and personal identity management. I am particularly interested in the health implications of managing a digitally-mediated self.

I am currently Principal Investigator for the EPSRC-funded project ‘INTUIT: Interaction Design for Trusted Sharing of Personal Health Data to Live Well with HIV’ (EP/R033900/1). INTUIT aims to understand issues of trust, identity and privacy that are experienced by people living with HIV when sharing self-generated data with clinicians, peers, and others, for the purposes of self-managing their condition. It considers an ethically responsible and inclusive design research programme to prototype and evaluate digital tools to support data sharing for living well with HIV, which is grounded in empirical insight about these issues, and co-created in partnership with key stakeholders including the HIV community, Healthcare providers, HIV charities, public health organisations, and community advocacy groups.

My work is grounded in participatory, experience-centered and design-led methodologies. I have first degree in Fine Art, a Masters in Design and a PhD in Psychology, which reflects my deep and longstanding interest in interdisciplinary research practice, with Design in productive conversations with other disciplines. My recently completed Leverhulme fellowship (ECF-2012-642) delivered methodological insight about the transformational value of design within interdisciplinary research teams. I also have a special interest in: video to support inquiry; visual argumentation in the dissemination of design research; digital photographic expression; and ethical design practice.

Before working in academia I was Director of an Interaction Design research consultancy for 10 years, working with clients in Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications, Leisure and Entertainment, and for UK Government.

0191 227 3031


PhD MA (RCA) BA (Hons)

Professional Activity

At Northumbria I teach on the Interaction Design BA course in our School of Design, and supervise 7 PhD students (+ 1 external at Newcastle University). I am Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I hold external examining roles in the UK and abroad, for undergraduate programmes and curricula at other academic institutions, and I have examined 6 doctorate projects in the UK and abroad.

I am Co-Lead (with colleague John Vines) of the Co-Create research initiative within the University's strategic IDEATE theme, delivering design-led research and social innovation grounded in participatory methods.  I am a member of the University’s NorthLab community of HCI researchers. I lead the Athena Swan application for the School of Design.

I contribute to a number of academic communities, as Chair, Committee Member, Associate Chair, Track Chair, Reviewer, and Guest Editor, including: ACM SIGCHI, Design Research Society (DRS), and journals and monographs published by Elsevier, Springer, Cambridge University Press, and MIT Press, amongst others. I am a Steering Committee member of the Research Through Design (RTD) Conference Series, (and previous General Chair of RTD 2015.) I am also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

I’ve published over 50 academic papers on HCI, Interaction Design, Inclusive Design, Pervasive Computing, Interaction Design for Children, and Visual Studies, receiving seven best paper awards at top tier conferences. I hold four design patents and have organized/ led 10 conference workshops on specialist subjects of interest related to Interaction Design and HCI.

Recent invited talks (2017-18) include: Information School, University of Washington; City, Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, University of London; UCL Interaction Centre; Connected Everyday Lab at TU Delft; KTH Sweden; Applied Psychology Department at University College Cork; Centre for Visualisation Studies, Linköping University.

Current and Recent Projects

‘INTUIT: Interaction Design for Trusted Sharing of Personal Health Data to Live Well with HIV’, EPSRC (EP/R033900/1) £827,993, Northumbria University, Nov 2018 – March April 2021. Principal Investigator.

‘Playing Out with IOT’, EPSRC (EP/P025544/1), £685,314, Northumbria University, Aug 2017 – Aug 2019. Co-Investigator.

‘Charting the Digital Lifespan’, EPSRC (EP/L00383X/1), £230,000, Newcastle University, Aug 2013 – Aug 2016. Co-Investigator.

‘Design for Dialogue: Interaction Design in Interdisciplinary Research’, Leverhulme Trust, Early Career Fellowship (ECF-2012-642), £93,000, Newcastle University, Apr 2013 – Dec 2017. Principal Investigator.

‘Digital Evaluation Toolkit for the Creative Industries’, Creative Fuse North East and Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice £5600, Northumbria University, Sep 2017 – Feb 2018. Co-Investigator.

‘Digital Design for Museum Dialogue[s]’, Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice £4770, Newcastle University, Jun 2015 – Mar 2016.

‘Scaling the Rural Enterprise’ EPSRC (EP/J000604/1), £1,263,925 (full award), University of Nottingham, Oct 2011 – July 2012, Researcher Co-Investigator.

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Interaction Design (Computer-related Design)
  • Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • Research through Design
  • Digital Personhood and Experience-centered Design
  • Design for Positive Ageing and Multi-Lifespan Design
  • Digital Support to Cultural Visiting
  • Research Co-Creation for Social Inclusion and Participatory Design
  • Value-Sensitive and Ethical Design
  • Speculative and Critical Design

Key Publications

Durrant, A. C., Moncur, W. M., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Taylor, R., Orzech, K. (2018) ‘Rich pictures for stakeholder dialogue: A polyphonic picture book’. Design Studies (Special DRS 2016 50th Anniversary Section), Elsevier, Vol 56, 122-148.


Durrant, A. C., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo-Pisanty, D., Martindale, S. (2018) ‘Admixed Portrait: Design to Understand Facebook Portrayals in New Parenthood’. In Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2018), ACM Press, Paper 12.


Durrant, A. C., Kirk, D. S., Ethical Responsiveness: Being Answerable to Others as an HCI Researcher. (2018) Interacting with Computers, Oxford Journals. Interacting with Computers, 30(2), 99–115.


Durrant, A. C., Golembewski, M., Kirk, D. S. (2018) Sketching the Polyphonic Design Space of Theme Parks. In Funology 2.0. Springer International Publishing.


Kirk, D. S., Durrant, A. C., Kosem, J., Reeves, S. (2018) 'Spomenik: Resurrecting Voices in the Woods'. In Mortality and Design— a special issue. Design Issues, 34(1), MIT Press.


Orzech, K. M., Moncur, W., Durrant, A., Trujillo-Pisanty, D. (2018) 'Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan: views of service providers and citizens in the UK'. Information, Communication & Society, 21 (1), 14-29.


Elsden, C., Durrant, A. C., Chatting, D., Kirk, D. (2017) Designing Documentary Informatics. In Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '17), ACM Press, 649-661.


Durrant, A. C., Kirk, D. S., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Moncur, W., Orzech, K., Schofield, T., Elsden, C., Chatting, D., Monk, A. (2017) 'Transitions in Digital Personhood: Online Activity in Early Retirement'. In Proc. CHI 2017, ACM, 6398-6411.


Orzech, K. M., Moncur, W., Durrant, A. C., James, S., Collomosse, J. (2017) 'Digital photographic practices as expressions of personhood and identity: variations across school leavers and recent retirees'. Visual Studies 32 (4), 313-328.


Durrant, A. C., Vines, J., Wallace, J., Yee, J. R. (2017) ‘Editorial: Research through Design: Makers and MaterialitiesDesign Issues, 33(3), MIT Press.


Elsden, C., Chatting, D., Durrant, A. C., Nissen, B., Garbett, A., Vines, J., Kirk, D.S. (2017) 'On Speculative Enactments'. In Proc. CHI 2017, ACM, 5386-5399.


Chatting, D., Kirk, D. S., Durrant, A. C., Elsden, C., Yurman, P., Bichard, J. (2017) 'Making Ritual Machines: The mobile phone as a networked material for research products'. In Proc. of CHI 2017, ACM, 435-447.


Elsden, C., Durrant, A., O'Kane, A., Marshall, P., Fleck, R., Rooksby, J., Lupton, D. (2017) 'Quantified Data & Human Relationships'. In Proc. CHI 2017, ACM, 644-651.


Durrant, A., Kirk, D. S., Wallace, J., Bowen, S., Reeves, S., Ljungblad, S. (2017) 'Problems in Practice: Understanding Design Research by Critiquing Cases'. In Proc. of CHI 2017, ACM, 636-643.


Bowen, S., Durrant, A., Nissen, B., Bowers, J. & Wright, P. (2016) ‘The Value of Designers’ Creative Practice within Complex Collaborations’. Design Studies, 46, 174-198.


Elsden, C., Selby, M., Durrant, A., Kirk, D. 'Fitter, happier, more productive: what to ask of a data-driven life?' Interactions, 23(5), 45-45.


Durrant, A. C., Trujillo Pisanty, D., Kirk, D.S., Moncur, W., Orzech, K. (2016) On presenting a rich picture for stakeholder dialogue.  In: P. Lloyd & E. Bohemia, eds., Proceedings of DRS2016: Design + Research + Society - Future-Focused Thinking, Volume 6, 2183-2202.


Kirk, D.S., Durrant, A.C., Leong, T., Wood, G., Wright, P.C. 'Understanding the Sociality of Experience in Mobile Music Listening with Pocketsong'. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '16). ACM Press, New York, 50-61.


Elsden, C., Durrant, A. C. Kirk, D. (2016) 'It's Just my History, Isn't It?: Understanding Smart Journaling Practices'. Proc. of ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2016, ACM, 2819-2831.


NRL Link

Google Scholar

Sponsors and Collaborators

Funders: EPSRC (UKRI); Leverhulme Trust

Current Academic Partners: University College London (UCL), City, University of London, University of Edinburgh, University of Bristol, University College Canterbury, Newcastle University.

Current External Collaborators: Public Health England, Microsoft Research Ltd, Terrence Higgins Trust, National Aids Trust, Central North West London and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, Yoti Ltd, UK-CAB, INTEROPen, NHS Digital, Never Again Rwanda, Cedarwood Trust, Playing Out CIC, Be Change, SAM Labs.

Collaborators on recent past projects include: Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Sony Entertainment, Ofcom, HMRC, Information Commissioners Office, Metropolitan Police, UK Cabinet Office, Age UK, Aegis Trust.

PGR Supervision

 Kiersten Hay: ‘Changing the Stigma Narrative: Digital Identity Management tools for Women Living with HIV in the UK’ (Primary Supervisor)

Henry Collingham: ‘A Design-Led Enquiry into Parametric Product Design for Dementia Care’ (Primary Supervisor)

Sarah Walton: ‘Cutters Context; a practice led parallel approach to manual and digital pattern cutting principles to inform new design tools and processes’ (Primary Supervisor)

Julia Wilmott: ‘Contemporary yarn blends and stitches designed to promote British made sustainable fibres which can be produced in the United Kingdom’ (Primary Supervisor)

Anne Spaa: ‘Working at the Boundaries of HCI and Public Policy – Speculative Approaches within Research through Design as a Source of Gathering and Sharing Knowledge for Think Tanks’ (Second Supervisor)

Helen Andreae: ‘Attention Please, Let’s Start: Design Research into Starting Tasks’ (Second Supervisor)

Effie Le Moignan: ‘The Family Snapshot: Parental Representations of Family and Children on Instagram’ (Second Supervisor, Submitted)

Sixian Chen: ‘Integrating Art into Bodily Interactions: Explore Digital Art in HCI Design to Foster Mindfulness Experiences’ (Second Supervisor (External for Newcastle University), Submitted).

Recent completion: Dr Chris Elsden: ‘A Quantified Past: Fieldwork and Design for Remembering a Data-Driven Life’


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