Stuart is Principal Investigator for the project and involved in both the ‘Imagining/Experiencing Disability, Care and Embodiment’ and ‘Prototyping ordinary communication futures’ work packages. In the first, he is involved with the team’s exploration of embodiment in speculative and science fiction, as well as workshops on technology with disabled participants. In the second, he is interested in the interaction between assistive technology, objects and contemporary disability theories of matter and presence.
Stuart Murray is Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where he is also the Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities. His research focuses on contemporary cultural depictions of disability and mental health, particularly in relation to technology, cultural theory and ideas of futurity. He has worked extensively with disability communities and is committed to disability inclusion in research. Stuart is the author or editor of 10 books, the most recent being Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Technology and Cultural Futures (Liverpool University Press, 2020). In 2008, he was the founding Editor of Liverpool UP’s Representations: Health, Disability, Culture and Society monograph series, and currently he is one of the Editors of Bloomsbury’s new book series Medical and Health Humanities: Critical Interventions and on the Editorial Board of BMJ Medical Humanities. Stuart’s next book, Medical Humanities and Disability Studies: Beyond Disciplines, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2022.
Raymond is supervising technical development on ‘Exploring Human-Robot Futures through Participatory Design’ work package.
Raymond Holt received his BEng (Hons) degree and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Leeds in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Since 2005, he has been a lecturer in Product Design at the University of Leeds. He was appointed a Chartered Engineer and member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 2016. At the University of Leeds, he is a member of the Immersive Cognition research group and the Centre for Disability Studies. His research focuses on technologies to support motor learning and rehabilitation in prehension, and assistive technologies to aid perception and navigation of the environment. Examples of Dr Holt’s previously funded work are the Leverhulme-Trust project Facilitating Meaningful Play Between Disabled and Non-Disabled Children through Participatory design, in which a user-centred design approach was used to explore disabled and non-disabled children’s aspirations for playing together and the Horizon 2020 funded project SUITEYES which focuses on the development of sensors and haptic technologies to enable people with deafblindness to communicate, and explore their environment using haptic signals.
Amelia is a Co-Investigator on ITDF, leading care-focused research for the work package on cultural imaginings of disability, care and embodiment.
Amelia DeFalco is Associate Professor of Medical Humanities in the School of English, University of Leeds. Her research is rooted in interdisciplinary approaches to the ethics and politics of embodiment, vulnerability and care in a variety of contemporary cultural texts. Her current research investigates representations of nonhuman care in literature, film, and television. Related to this research, she is PI of the AHRC Leadership Fellowship “Imagining Posthuman Care” (2021-2022) and is completing a monograph “Curious Kin: Fictions of Posthuman Care.” Her work on posthuman care draws together a wide range of approaches to the theorization of more than human vulnerability and embodiment in order to reimagine and reinvigorate the meaning and function of care in the early twenty-first century. This research expands the scope of her previous work on the subject of care, in particular, Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency, and Canadian Literature (University of Toronto Press 2016). In addition, she is author of Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative (Ohio State University Press 2010) and essays on contemporary cultural representations of ageing, disability, gender, care, witnessing and the posthuman.
Graham heads our ‘Prototyping ordinary communication futures’ work package. With mentors who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) we will explore and alternative everyday disability futures and build and share experience prototypes.
Graham Pullin is a designer and author of the manifesto Design Meets Disability (The MIT Press, 2009). He is Professor of Design and Disability at DJCAD (College of Art and Design) at the University of Dundee, where he co-founded Studio Ordinary, a meeting of disability studies and design research, co-founded the Social Digital academic group and founded the Museum of Lost Interactions.
He led Hands of X, a research project that culminated in the experience of a prosthetic hand concession being prototyped within a London eyewear retailer and that was the subject of a substantive exhibition ‘Hands of X: design meets disability’ at V&A Dundee from 27 June–1 September 2019. His research is also exploring more expressive communication for people who cannot speak and currently find themselves limited by text-to-speech technology, through projects such as Six Speaking Chairs and a mid-career PhD entitled ’17 ways to say yes’.
Previously, Graham was a studio head at the design consultancy IDEO, leading multidisciplinary teams on projects as diverse as commercial Vodafone Simply phones for people in their 40s and 50s, concept hearing–enabling furniture for the HearWear exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, and the critical design project Social Mobiles that was exhibited in Tokyo, Ars Electronica and MoMA.
Luna Dolezal is a philosopher specialising in phenomenology and feminist theory and will be working on Work Package 1 “Imagining/Experiencing Disability, Care and Embodiment’, supervising a PhD student based in Exeter. Luna’s work will consider the phenomenology of disability technologies, with an emphasis on embodiment, touch, relationality, presence and care.
Luna Dolezal is an Associate Professor in Philosophy and Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter. Her research is primarily in the areas of applied phenomenology, philosophy of embodiment, philosophy of medicine and medical humanities. Luna’s work is driven by an interest in understanding lived experience and embodiment, and how these intersect with, are co-determined by, socio-political and technological frameworks in which we are enmeshed. She has published articles about telepresence, disability and prostheses, and is interested in how cultural representations of (dis)ability shape praxis and experience. Luna is the PI of the Shame and Medicine project, funded by a Wellcome-Trust Collaborative Award. Luna’s publications include the monograph The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped Body (Lexington Books, 2015), and the co-edited books Body/Self/Other: The Phenomenology of Social Encounters (SUNY Press, 2017) and New Feminist Perspectives on Embodiment (Palgrave, 2018). Luna is based in the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter. She is on the steering committee of the Nordic Network for Gender Body and Health and an active member of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Culture and Health, Exeter.
Tony is a Co- Investigator for the University of Sheffield leading activities around participatory design workshops for children with long-term conditions and older adults.
Tony Prescott is Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the University of Sheffield, UK, and the Director of Sheffield Robotics, a cross-disciplinary research institute with over 200 researchers. He is also the co-creator of the award-winning animal-like robots Scratchbot, Shrewbot and MiRo. His background mixes psychology, philosophy and brain theory with robotics and artificial intelligence, and his research aims at answering questions about the human condition by creating synthetic entities with animal or human-like capacities such as perception, memory, emotion and sense of self. His approach takes a posthuman perspective, examining the ever-deepening relationship between our species and the technologies we create; he also regularly speaks and writes about the societal and cultural impacts of future robotic, AI, virtual reality and telepresence technologies.
Tony has published over 200 articles and conference papers at the interface of robotics, AI, psychology, and neuroscience, and is the lead editor of The Scholarpedia of Touch, published by Springer, and of Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems published by Oxford University Press. His journalism includes articles for New Scientist, Newsweek, The Hindu, and The Independent. Tony was the lead author of the 2017 White Paper Robotics in Social Care: A Connected Ecosystem for Independent Living that explored the potential of robotics to help address the current crisis in UK health and social care provision. He also co-founded, and is a current director of, two robotics spin-out companies, Consequential Robotics, developing education and assistive living technologies, and Cyberselves, develop robot interfaces for applications including telepresence. He has given many invited talks including to NewScientist Live, The Tencent Way to Evolve Conference, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Stedelijk Museum, he also co-organised a touring robotics exhibition that has featured at multiple science festivals including BlueDot, Cheltenham Science Festival, and FutureFest. Tony’s research is regularly featured in online and print media and has been covered by the BBC One Show, BBC Breakfast, Tomorrow’s World Live and BBC Radio 4 Today, World at One and Material World. International coverage has included the Discovery Channel, Arte Channel.
Michael is a Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, presently working at Sheffield Robotics through the Department of Computer Science. His current research interests revolve around the social and cultural impacts of robotics, AI, and telepresence, ethics, and posthumanism.
Michael has a wide-ranging interdisciplinary background. Having completed his PhD in English Literature and Psychotherapeutic Studies, he taught literature, culture studies, and critical theory. He was Course Director on a distance-learning MA in Psychoanalytic Studies at the School for Health and Related Research before studying robotics and new technologies more specifically at Sheffield Robotics. He has worked in four different Faculties at the University of Sheffield (Arts, Medicine, Science, and Engineering) in English, ScHARR, Psychology and Computer Science. He is committed to conveying ideas to wider audiences; he is public engagement lead at Sheffield Robotics, has appeared on many different media outlets (including BBC radio, television, and blogging), and designed the Cyberselves’ Roadshow, which toured the UK and Europe, offering hands-on demonstrations of robots and emerging technologies to public and industry audiences. He is co-founder of Cyberselves Universal, a spinout company of the University of Sheffield that has built a unique telepresence application and creates software designed to make programming robots easier.
Katie is a research assistant on the ‘Prototyping ordinary communication futures’ work package and is currently based at DJCAD (College of Art and Design) at the University of Dundee.
Katie is a designer by training and completed her BDes (Hons) in Jewellery & Metal Design in 2016 and MSc in Product Design in 2017. She is currently in her final year of her EPSRC funded PhD, provisionally titled “Exploring hearing aids and super normal design.” This explores nuanced alternative design futures of hearing aids through participatory research with D/deaf hearing aid wearers and included a residency in Jasper Morrison’s studio in London. Her research aims to challenge the prevalence of narratives of invisibility in hearing aid design – without recourse to extreme visibility.
Katie’s research interests include the roles that material objects do and could play in disability: in better representing people’s diverse and complex attitudes towards their own disability and influencing the attitudes of others. She is a member of Studio Ordinary, an interdisciplinary research centre and meeting place of design with disability studies based at the University of Dundee.
Mohammed Z. Shaqura
Mohammed Shaqura received a BSc degree in Control Systems Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, KSA (2011) and MSc, PhD in Controls and Dynamics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, KSA (2018). He has several entrepreneurial experiences in robotics and automation technology. He joined University of Leeds in 2020 as a Researcher in Navigation and Haptic Communication. His research focuses on autonomous navigation algorithms, learning-based control, localization & mapping, and haptic wearable design.
Ellie is a PhD student at the University of Leeds involved in the ‘Imagining/Experiencing Disability, Care and Embodiment’ work package, focusing on embodiment and disability in speculative and science fiction.
Ellie received a BA in English Literature from the University of Leeds and an MSc in Medical Humanities from King’s College London where her research has explored representations of the body across contemporary literature, performance, and visual culture. Her work is concerned with investigating the boundaries of the body, its entanglements with organic and inorganic matter, and the impact this has on our ideas of personhood and what it means to be ‘human’. Ellie’s MSc thesis explored theories of contagion to disrupt bounded notions of self in the work of visual artist Marianna Simnett. An edited version was published across two articles for CLOT Magazine in July 2020: ‘Marianna Simnett: Contagion and the Utopian Body’ and ‘Marianna Simnett: Contagion and Monstrous Politics’.
Ellie’s project continues these investigations into the materiality of embodied existence, focusing on the impact of surveillance technologies and big data practices on embodied experience and concepts of self, agency, and autonomy.
Cathrin Fischer is a PhD researcher in philosophy. She is working on Work Package 1 ‘Imagining/Experiencing Disability, Care and Embodiment’ and will be based at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter, under the supervision of Professor Luna Dolezal and Dr Joel Krueger. Her project will bring together phenomenological and crip-queer-feminist methods to investigate the lived embodied experience of disability. It focuses therefore on a critical examination of futurity and reproduction, bodies in relation to each other and queer-‘crip’ uses of technology, appendages and the environment. This work will involve collaboration with disabled people, including phenomenological interviews.
Cathrin completed her MA Degree in Consciousness and Embodiment at University College Dublin and her BA Degree in Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology at the University of Exeter. Her research interests are primarily in the areas of feminist philosophy and phenomenology, particularly in terms of psychopathology, embodiment, emotions and at the intersections of social theory and medical humanities. She is interested in interdisciplinary philosophical approaches which center the lived, bodily experience of marginalised people and challenge normative assumptions. Her undergraduate and postgraduate theses have focused on the subjective, intersubjective, bodily, and affective dimensions of eating disorders. She is also involved with the MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) Network.
Christina Stimson is a PhD student based at The University of Sheffield, involved in Work Package 3 ‘Exploring Human-Robot Futures through Participatory Design’. Her project focuses on forming new Participatory Design processes by synthesising ethnographic and narrative-based techniques. With their origin in the ‘Scandinavian tradition’ of promoting democratic values, these processes will aim to facilitate potential robot users’ imaginings of their own technologised futures.
She holds a BA in English Studies from Sheffield Hallam University and an MA in English Literature (Creative Writing Pathway) from The University of Sheffield, where her research and creative work focused on worldbuilding and identity in speculative fiction. Her thesis written for the MA in Intercultural Communication (also at Sheffield) investigated interculturality in William Gibson’s cyberpunk settings through Membership Categorisation Analysis and the Five General Principles of Identities-in-Practice. It was here where she first encountered ethnography, the primary methodology in her PhD project. Her wider research interests include posthumanism, queer, disabled and other marginalised perspectives, and video games as a narrative medium.
Before returning to academia, Christina worked in the security industry for 6 years as a technical author, writing instruction manuals for a range of IT products.
Johanna is a PhD student working on the ‘Prototyping Ordinary Communication Futures’ work package under the supervision of Professor Graham Pullin and Professor Fiona Kumari Campbell. She is a member of Studio Ordinary, an interdisciplinary meeting place for design research and disability studies based at the University of Dundee.
Johanna’s background is in visual communication. She graduated with a Bachelor of Animation from Griffith University in 2007, and completed her MA Illustration (Authorial Practice) at Falmouth University in 2012. During her master’s degree, she developed a keen interest in utilising illustration methods to communicate and share individual perceptions of reality, particularly neurodiverse experiences. This research interest prompted her to work in several different roles in the care sector over the past decade, most recently as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate, using creative practice as an alternative communication method to establish the wishes and feelings of people who do not predominantly communicate with words.
Johanna’s PhD enquiry will explore non-verbal communication between neurotypical and neurodivergent conversational partners through creative practice. In developing critical design, such as ‘Augmentative Communication Systems for Verbal Adults’, her arts-based research will place the onus to learn a new language onto neurotypical conversational partners as she investigates whether the promotion of artistic literacy can help neurotypical thinkers integrate into a neurodiverse world.
Kelly Armstrong is the Project Manager of the itDf project and is based in the School of English at the University of Leeds. She is responsible for producing frameworks and timelines for progressing project activities, providing logistical support for project activities and events and maintaining the project website and social media accounts.
Kelly has worked on a wide range of externally funded research projects over the past 10 years. Prior to joining the itDf team, she specialised in the management and compliance of projects funded through the European Union’s FP7 and Horizon 2020 Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.
She holds BChem from Durham University, where she was a member of St. Aidan’s college between 2006-2010.
Advisory Board Members
Sophie Goggins is the Curator of Biomedical Science at National Museums Scotland. She is responsible for the medical and veterinary collections, including her specialism, contemporary biomedicine. Sophie’s research interests include contemporary collecting in biomedicine, patient experience and prosthetics. Her most recent exhibition Parasites: Battle for Survival showcased contemporary Scottish research and its place in the fight against parasitic disease.
Shannon Hennig, PhD
Shannon Hennig is a researcher and practicing clinician with expertise in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology based in Wellington, New Zealand. Her research currently focuses on user experience and functional benefits of expressive speech synthesis for AAC applications. Clinically, Dr Hennig works as a speech-language therapist with nuerodiverse children and adults. She also specialises in supporting people who cannot rely on biological speech to meet their daily communication needs.
Jeff Higginbotham, Ph.D.
Professor, Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at BuffaloDirector, Communication and Assistive Device Laboratory
Jeff Higginbotham, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo and the director of the Communication and Assistive Device Laboratory. His research career has focused on studying the temporal-influences of technology-mediated interaction and how people adapt their communication styles to interact using these technologies. His work has centred on individuals who use assistive communication technologies to speak, as well as other applied situations such as interactions among robotic surgical team members. Currently, he is a co-principal investigator of Project OPEN, a 5 year grant awarded by the National Institute on Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, to study interaction-based communication problems of individuals with complex communication needs and to develop an accessible, open-source, web-based, research and development platform for designing assistive communication devices. Jeff is also a fellow of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
Sophie Jones is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her research spans the fields of post-1945 American literature and film, gender studies, disability studies, and the critical medical humanities. Her first book project, The Reproductive Politics of American Literature and Film, 1959-1973, investigates how writers and filmmakers of the long 1960s developed a politics of reproduction that drew together the term’s cultural and biological senses. Currently, she is researching how the development of attention disorders as a diagnostic category has intersected with understandings of ‘minimalism’ and ‘maximalism’ as literary strategies for extending, curtailing, testing or enhancing contemporary habits of attention and distraction..
Illah R. Nourbakhsh is K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA and director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab. He is Associate Director for Faculty at the Robotics Institute. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. Illah is currently serving as CEO of Airviz Inc., which is dedicated to global empowerment regarding air quality. In 2009 the National Academy of Sciences named him a Kavli Fellow. In 2013 he was inducted into the June Harless West Virginia Hall of Fame. He was previously Robotics Group Lead for NASA/Ames during the MER landings. In 2019 he was named a Hastings Fellow. He has co-authored textbooks and popular literature, including Robot Futures. He is a trustee of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a trustee of Winchester Thurston School and Chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. He is a World Economic Forum Global Steward and a senior advisor to The Future Society, Harvard Kennedy School, as well as RoboGlobal.
Donna McCormack is a senior lecturer in English Literature at the University of Surrey, UK. She is currently working on an AHRC Leadership Fellowship on Transplant Imaginaries. Her research spans the fields of medical humanities, postcolonial theory, queer theory and monster studies, with a focus on contemporary literature and film (especially science fiction), embodiment and memory, and biotechnologies. She has recently started a new project on Queer Fish. Her first monograph is entitled Queer Postcolonial Narratives and the Ethics of Witnessing (Bloomsbury Press, 2014), and she has publications in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, Somatechnics and BMJ Medical Humanities, as well as in edited collections such as Bodily Exchanges, Bioethics and Border Crossing (London: Routledge, 2015). She is the coordinator of the Nordic Network Gender, Body, Health, as well as a founding member of the Monster Network.
Advisor through experience
I am 64, widower. Ex serviceman having served with the Royal Military Police for 22 years up until 1996. I have lost both legs. Left leg above the knee and the right through hip. Also my right hand was damaged leaving me without two fingers and having knuckle damage. I am presently a Trustee of the Service charity BLESMA. A charity that serves all ex service personnel with either loss of use of limb or actual limb loss. I lead a full life in Yorkshire and have two grown children. My hobbies are Bonsai and malt whisky.
Professor of Graduate School of Life Science and Systems Engineering, Kyushu Institute of Technology
Tomohiro Shibata received Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 1996, continued his robotics study as a JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences) researcher, and then worked on computational neuroscience research using a humanoid robot at ATR (Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute) as a JST (Japan Science and Technology) researcher. After working as an associate professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology in robotics, computational neuroscience, and assisted living, he currently works as a professor at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Japan. He also works for Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan with his founded and running Smart Life Care Co-Creation Laboratory. He is a working group member for the national strategic special zone in Kitakyushu focusing on nursing-care robots. He was an editorial board member of Neural Networks and an executive board member of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ). He is currently an executive board member of Japanese Neural Network Society, a committee member of RSJ for international affairs, and a governing council member of The Robotics Society (former Robotics Society of India)
Margrit Shildrick is Guest Professor of Gender and Knowledge Production at Stockholm University and Adjunct Professor of Critical Disability Studies at York University, Toronto. Her research covers postmodern feminist and cultural theory, bioethics, critical disability studies and body theory. Books include Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, (Bio)ethics and Postmodernism (1997), Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self (2002) and Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Sexuality and Subjectivity (2009), as well as edited collections and many journal articles. Most recently, she has been working on the embodied conjunction of microchimerism, immunology and corporeal anomaly, and writing a new book entitled Visceral Prostheses: Biotechnologies and Posthuman Embodiment (forthcoming Bloomsbury Press).
Prof. Valdastri’s academic career started with a Laurea degree cum Laude in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pisa in 2001 and a PhD degree cum Laude in Biomedical Engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in 2006, with Prof. Paolo Dario as primary advisor. After the PhD, he served as Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna for three years, focusing on implantable medical devices and surgical robotics. In 2011, Prof. Valdastri moved to Vanderbilt University, where he became Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. There, Prof. Valdastri started the Science and Technologies Of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab focusing on medical capsule robots for gastrointestinal endoscopy and abdominal surgery. In 2016, he moved to Leeds as Full Professor and Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems with a primary appointment in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and a secondary appointment in the School of Mechanical Engineering. In Leeds, Prof. Valdastri is directing the STORM Lab, the Institute of Robotics, Autonomous System and Sensing (IRASS), and the Robotics at Leeds network. Prof. Valdastri is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Editor for Medical and Rehabilitation Robotics of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, a member of the Technology Committee of the European Association for Endoscopic Surgery (EAES), and a member of the steering committee of the International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (iSMIT). In the last five years, Prof. Valdastri received more than €12M in research funding as Principal Investigator, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award with the proposal ‘Lifesaving Capsule Robots’ in 2015, the European Research Council Consolidator Grant Award with the proposal ‘NoLiMiTs – Novel Lifesaving Magnetic Tentacles’ in 2019, and the KUKA Innovation Award for his robotic colonoscopy platform. STORM Lab’s research has been featured by several tech news outlets, including BBC, The Financial Times, The Spectator, WIRED, IEEE Spectrum, Medgadget, Daily Mail, The Engineer, Medical Design Technology Magazine, Medical Xpress, Newswise, NSF Science Now.
Professor Paul Dimitri
Professor of Child Health, Director of Research & Innovation Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Director of NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Cooperative, NIHR CRN National Children’s Specialty Lead
Professor Paul Dimitri is the Director of the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Cooperative (NIHR CYP MedTech) and the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Children’s Specialty Lead. He works at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust as a Professor of Child Health, Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology and Director of Research & Innovation. Paul is the Clinical Lead for the TITCH (Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health) Network established to support the development and adoption of technology for children’s healthcare ensuring that children and young people receive the best and most advanced healthcare. Other research positions include Med-Tech Strategic Lead for the NIHR Yorkshire & Humber Clinical Research Network.