I am an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. I work at the intersection of anthropology, science and technology studies, and design, and my scholarship focuses on relations between technoscience, idealism and morality, and politics. Having worked as both an ethnographer and a designer, I am also interested in how ethnography can and does play a role in making and shaping publics. In that vein, I am the current director of the Studio for Ethnographic Design at the University of California, San Diego and a founding member of the University of California Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design.
My first solo-authored book, Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism (Princeton 2017), is an ethnography of an ambitious and well-intentioned attempt to reinvent the public school in the United States for the digital age. It explores the complex processes by which optimism for the philanthropic possibilities of new technological breakthroughs is cyclically regenerated even though actual interventions routinely fall short of hoped for outcomes. The book also examines what this resilient techno-idealism manages to accomplish even as a given intervention or movement is largely unable to realize its philanthropic aims.
Prior to graduate school I worked in the field of user experience design, primarily for large not-for-profit organizations and in collaboration with the design consultancy Tellart. I received a B.A. from Bowdoin College in 2000 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information in 2012.