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Dr Reem Refaat Talhouk

VC Fellow

Department: Northumbria School of Design

I joined Northumbria University in 2020 as a Vice Chancellor Research Fellow at the School of Design and Centre for International Development after completing my PhD at Newcastle University. My research draw son multiple design methods to investigate how technologies and design methodologies can be used in humanitarian contexts. I have conducted research in the Middle East, Europe and Australia on the role of technologies in improving refugee and asylum seekers’ health, resilience and security.


I have been awarded the Young Digital Leader of the Year (2020) by Digital Leaders 100 and the Newcastle University Medical Sciences Doctoral Prize (2020) for my PhD Thesis.


I am currently the Participatory Design Conference 2022 International Hubs Co-Chair and I am an active member of the Refugees & Human-Computer Interaction and the HCI4D communities. I am affiliated with the Center for Research on Population and Health at the American University of Beirut.

Reem Refaat Talhouk

Campus Address

City Campus East 2
Room 202
Newcastle upon Tyne

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of design, innovation and global development. My research questions the interplay between technological designs, humanitarian innovation processes and practices, public health and community resilience in contexts of marginalisation. I am interested in working with humanitarian innovators to understand their practices and work towards integrating novel and pluralistic design methodologies and principles in to humanitarian innovation practices. To that end, I have been working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, TraidCraft Exchange, Global Innovation Gathering, R0g and academics at the American University of Beirut to embark on an exploration of how humanitarian innovation can be done in a socially just manner and in support of socially just outcomes. Additionally, I draw from decolonial theory, intersectional feminism, design justice and social justice when working with displaced communities to innovate in how design is conducted as well as to create new mediums for interaction that increase refugee agency and capabilities. In doing so my research aims to challenge existing marginal ways of being.

I lead on a project that aims to develop an understanding of design justice in contexts of compounded crises. Using Lebanon as a case study, we explored the historical, social, political and economic factors that needs to be accounted for when designing in spaces of competing social justice claims. I am also a co-investigator on a SIGCHI Development Fund grant that aims at enabling design and Human-Computer knowledge exchange with youth and academics in Timor Leste.

I am also highly interested in addressing racial inequalities in Higher Education. I have recently received a Vice Chancellor Diversity Fund Grant to conduct future workshops with students and staff in an effort to reimagine a racially equal university. The research will inform Northumbria University’s RACE Equality policies and processes.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • When the Civic Turn turns Digital: Designing Safe and Secure Refugee Resettlement, Bjerg Jensen, R., Coles-Kemp, L., Talhouk, R. 21 Apr 2020, CHI 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, ACM
  • Integrating Health Technologies in Health Services for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Qualitative Study, Talhouk, R., Akik, C., Araujo-Soares, V., Ahmad, B., Mesmar, S., Olivier, P., Balaam, M., Montague, K., Garbett, A., Ghattas, H. 6 Jul 2020, In: Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • A Call For Embedding Dignity In Humanitarian Technologies, Talhouk, R., Montague, K., Garbett, A., Araujo-Soares, V., Akik, C., Ghattas, H., Ahmad, B., Balaam, M. 5 Jun 2019, C&T 2019, New York
  • Involving Syrian Refugees in Design Research: Lessons Learnt from the Field, Talhouk, R., Balaam, M., Toombs, A., Garbett, A., Akik, C., Ghattas, H., Araujo-Soares, V., Ahmad, B., Montague, K. 18 Jun 2019, DIS 2019, New York, ACM
  • In a new land: Mobile phones, amplified pressures and reduced capabilities, Coles-Kemp, L., Jensen, R., Talhouk, R. 21 Apr 2018, CHI '18, New York, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc
  • Implications of Synchronous IVR Radio on Syrian Refugee Health and Community Dynamics, Talhouk, R., Bartindale, T., Montague, K., Mesmar, S., Akik, C., Ghassani, A., Njiem, M., Ghattas, H., Olivier, P., Balaam, M. 26 Jun 2017, C & T 2017, New York, ACM
  • Syrian refugees and digital health in Lebanon: Opportunities for improving antenatal health, Talhouk, R., Mesmar, S., Thieme, A., Balaam, M., Olivier, P., Akik, C., Ghattas, H. 7 May 2016, CHI 2016, New York, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc
  • The impact of digital technology on health of populations affected by humanitarian crises: Recent innovations and current gaps, Mesmar, S., Talhouk, R., Akik, C., Olivier, P., Elhajj, I., Elbassuoni, S., Armoush, S., Kalot, J., Balaam, M., Germani, A., Ghattas, H. Nov 2016, In: Journal of Public Health Policy
  • Refugees & HCI SiG: Situating HCI within humanitarian research, Talhouk, R., Aal, K., Weibert, A., Krüger, M., Wulf, V., Fisher, K., Tachtler, F., Shahid, S., Ahmed, S., Bustamante Duarte, A. 2 May 2019, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc
  • How blockchain is empowering this refugee community in Lebanon, Talhouk, R., Garbett, A., Montague, K. 28 Jun 2019

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Oral presentation: Data Driven Technologies as Experienced by Syrian Refugees 2019
  • Oral presentation: Community Action to Cope with Food Insecurity in a Syrian Refugee Settlement: A Qualitative Study 2019
  • Invited talk: Digital Civics in Refugee Camps 2016
  • Oral presentation: From Coping to Community Resilience: Considerations for Syrian Refugee Food Security 2019
  • Invited talk: How Mobility Influences Designing Maternal Health Interventions for Refugees 2016
  • Invited talk: Critiques of Humanitarian Innovation and Design as a Counter Narrative 2021


  • PhD May 11 2020
  • Computer Science MRes September 28 2015
  • MPH June 01 2015
  • Nutrition BSc June 01 2014

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