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Dr Abigail Durrant

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria School of Design

Abigail is an interaction design practitioner and researcher, predominantly working in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI).  

Her research focuses on the design of digital support for managing identity and well-being, in different contexts and cultures and across the life course.  This includes work in ethically sensitive settings and with vulnerable populations.  Abigail’s background is in design and the social sciences, and her recently completed Leverhulme fellowship has delivered methodological insight about the transformational value of design within multi-disciplinary research teams.  Her research methods are informed by practice-based, experience-centred and participatory approaches.  She has a special interest and expertise in the use of video to support inquiry, and in the use of visual argumentation in the dissemination of design research.

Abigail has published extensively on HCI, Interaction Design, Pervasive Computing and Visual Studies.  She is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and the Research through Design Conference Steering Committee.  She was previously General Co-Chair of the Research through Design 2015 conference.  Alongside her Leverhulme Fellowship Abigail has a track record of RCUK funding (most recently EP/L00383X/1), holds four patents, and has over 50 publications. Abigail also has extensive commercial design research experience working in Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications, Leisure and Entertainment, and for UK Government.

Current and Recent Projects

  • Playing Out with IOT, EPSRC, Co-Investigator, (EP/P025544/1)
  • Design for Interdisciplinary Dialogue, The Leverhulme Trust, Primary Investigator (ECF-2012-642)
  • Charting the Digital Lifespan, EPSRC, 2013, Co-Investigator (EP/L00383X/1)
  • Scaling the Rural Enterprise, EPSRC, Researcher Co-Investigator (EP/J000604/1)
  • I was Co-Investigator on a project internally funded by Newcastle Institute of Creative Arts Practice (NICAP) and currently am an investigator on an Innovation Pilot for Creative Fuse North East, in collaboration with NICAP and partner organisations. 

Key Publications

Durrant, A. C., Vines, J., Wallace, J. & Yee, J. R. (2017) ‘Editorial to Special Issue on Research through Design: Twenty-first Century Makers and Materialities’. Design Issues (30.3).

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'. To appear in Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017).

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. DOI: 10.1016/j.destud.2016.06.001.

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, pp. 2183-2202. DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.169.

Durrant, A., Kirk, D. & Reeves, S. (2014) ‘Human Values in Curating a Human Rights Media Archive’. In Proceedings of CHI ’14, ACM Press, 2685-2694. Awarded Best Paper (top 1% of submissions). DOI: 10.1145/2556288.2557196.

Durrant, A., Rowland, D., Kirk, D., Benford, S., Fischer, J., Mcauley, D. (2011) ‘Automics: Souvenir Generating Photoware for Theme Parks’.  In Proc. of CHI’11. ACM Press, 1767-1776. Awarded Best Paper (top 1% of submissions). DOI: 10.1145/1978942.1979199.

PGR Supervision

  • Henry Collingham, School of Design, 2017 – present (First Supervisor)
  • Kiersten Hay, School of Design, 2017 – present (First Supervisor)
  • Julia Wilmott, School of Design, 2017 – present (First Supervisor)
  • Anne Spaa, School of Design, 2017 – present (Second Supervisor)
  • Sixian Chen, 2014 – present (submitted), (External Supervisor, Newcastle University)



  • Christopher Elsden, 2014 to 2018, (External Supervisor, Newcastle University)

Professional Activity

I am a Steering Committee member of the Research Through Design (RTD) Conference Series, (and previous General Chair of RTD 2015) and am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.  I contribute to a number of other academic communities, in Committee Member, Associate Chair, Track Chair Reviewer, and Guest Editor roles, including ACM SIGCHI and Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), Design Research Society (DRS), and journals published by Elsevier, Springer, and MIT Press.

I am Co-Lead (with colleague John Vines) of the 'Co-Create' research strand within the University's strategic IDEATE theme, aiming to deliver design-led research and social innovation grounded in participatory methods.


PhD MA (RCA) BA (Hons)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Interaction Design (Computer-related Design)
  • Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • Research through Design
  • Digital Personhood, Identity and Well Being across the Life Course
  • Digital Support to Cultural Visiting
  • Co-Creation of Design Research for Social Inclusion
  • Speculative and Critical Design

Sponsors and Collaborators

The Leverhulme Trust, EPSRC


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