I am an associate professor in the Department of Communication and an affiliated faculty member in the Science Studies Program and the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, San Diego. I work at the intersection of science and technology studies, sociology, anthropology, and design studies. Most broadly, my scholarship focuses on technological change, cultural production, and social practice. More specifically, I examine processes by which experts attempt to understand and remedy entrenched sociopolitical problems. Having worked as both an ethnographer and a designer, I am also interested in how ethnography and design can and do play a role in making and shaping public life. In that vein, I am a founding member of both the Studio for Ethnographic Design at UCSD and 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) , explores the processes by which idealism for the philanthropic possibilities of new media technologies is repeatedly regenerated even as 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 project or movement is largely unable to realize the good intentions of those involved. The book is the winner of the 2018 Best Book Award from the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) section of the American Sociological Association.
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. in Economics from Bowdoin College in 2000 and a Master’s (2007) and Ph.D. (2012) from the University of California, Berkeley School of Information.