Personal profile

Research interests

I am fascinated by design and seek opportunities to expand and diversify the discipline. I am motivated by systemic complexity and disciplinary ways of knowing. Areas of particular interest are social innovation and sustainable futures, morality and ethics in design, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration.

My research activities seek to achieve social benefit through design. My approach to research is practice-based and generally conducted in collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines.

Research projects conducted in pursuit of these ambitions include:

“Anticipating Futures: Forecasting and Climate Preparedness for Co-located Hazards in India (ANTICIPATE)”. Partners: University of Brighton (UK), Institute of Development Studies (UK), All India Disaster Management Institute (IN). Funder British Academy, Knowledge Frontiers Scheme.

‘Inter-Disciplinary Education Agenda (IDEA): An essential driver for innovation’, Funded by the EU TEMPUS scheme. This project helped to improve knowledge exchange and innovation between engineering and design disciplines and business, in higher education institutes.

‘The Human Body Form’ A collaborative arts/medicine pedagogic research study investigating the potential benefits of drawing as a method for inter-disciplinary learning.

‘Designing for the Future’ a multi-disciplinary design competition that seeks to develop design innovations to benefit an ageing population, sponsored by The Future Perfect Company.

'Using Biomechanical data to inform student learning about chair design.' The study, which aimed to develop innovative models for interdisciplinary teaching, was funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD).

The successful completion of this project led to a second CETLD-funded research study titled: 'Design in the Clinical Environment.' The project was a further development of the interdisciplinary teaching model identified during the previous research and moved the focus from the chair to the built environment.

I am an External Reviewer for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); and Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).

Supervisory Interests

Tom Ainsworth is the Subject Area Lead for Architecture and Design and the MA Sustainable Design Course Leader. His supervisory interests are Social and Environmental Justices, Progressive and Disruptive Design Research, and Design for Health and Wellbeing.


Current Supervision

Chantal Spencer, University of Brighton. Working Title: Moving Beyond Participatory Models to Methodologies of Radical Intersectional Equity. University of Brighton Funded Scholarship.

Kristen Bullivant, University of Brighton. Working Title: Designing Sustainable Food Futures: a design anthropological approach to cultural value and culinary capital in shaping ‘sustainable’ diets. AHRC funded.

Sally Sutherland, University of Brighton. Working title: Design, Culture and Gender Matters: An Exploration of Design as a Socio-material Tool for UK Public Breastfeeding Research. AHRC Design Star funded.



Merryn Haynes-Gadd, University of Brighton. Thesis Title: Emotional Durability Design Nine: Developing a tool for product longevity. AHRC Design Star funded.



PhD Examination, Giovanni Marmont, University of Brighton. Title: Nanopoetics of Use: Kinetic prefiguration and dispossessed sociality in the undercommons. AHRC Design Star funded

PhD Examination, Catherine Speight, University of Brighton. Title: Looking Understanding and Making Meaning: HE Ceramics Students as a ‘Community of Learners’. AHRC Funded.

PhD Examination, Tobias Mulling, University of Brighton. Title: Embracing the Gestural Interface: Designing and Evaluating a Mid-air Gestural Approach based on Manipulation.

Approach to teaching

Empowering students is central to my approach to teaching.  I seek to support individuals to identify personal values and develop the skills and attributes that enable critical research-informed decision-making. Graduates are now in executive, strategic, creative and analytical positions across the public and private sectors.

I have led the Sustainable Design Course at Brighton since 2014 and taught Design and Research courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

I have led several research-driven teaching projects, including interdisciplinary collaborative projects with internal and external partners, including Politecnico di Milano, Shenkar College of Engineering, Kings College London, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, The Development of Persuasive Design Theory to Improve Patient Engagement with Therapeutic Exercises in People with Rheumatoid Arthritis, University of Brighton

21 Sept 20091 Apr 2013

Award Date: 1 Apr 2013

External positions

External Examiner MDes Design Futures, Royal College of Art

1 Oct 202330 Sept 2026

Peer Review Panel Member, Systemic Design Association

20 Jan 2022 → …

External Examiner Postgraduate Design Courses, Norwich University of the Arts

17 Jan 202231 Dec 2025

External Validator for the Maltese Further and Higher Education Authority


External Examiner MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures, London College of Communication UAL

1 Sept 20201 Feb 2024

Peer Review Pannel Member, Design Research Society

2016 → …


  • NC Drawing Design Illustration
  • Design Research
  • sustainable design
  • Futures
  • Systems
  • Design Justice


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