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Personal profile

Research interests

I am fascinated by human behavior and how the built environment (both virtual and real) influences what we do, where, and when. Of particular interest is sustainable development, 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 design research and generally conducted in collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines.

Research projects conducted in pursuit of these ambitions include:

‘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 aging 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); Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA); and chair of the Tier 1 Research Ethics and Governance Committee for the School of Architecture and Design.

Supervisory Interests

Tom Ainsworth is the Postgraduate Research Coordinator for Architecture & Design, Academic Programme Leader for Design, and Course Leader for the MA Sustainable Design. His supervisory interests are in Sustainable Development, Practice-Based Design Research, and Design for Health & Wellbeing.


Current Supervision

Lead Supervisor, Kristen Bullivant, University of Brighton. Working Title: Designing Food Cultures: sustainable diets and the question of 'what’s good enough'? AHRC Techne funded

Lead Supervisor, 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

Lead Supervisor, 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 prefigurationand 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 gesture-driven interface: design and evaluation of a mid-air gestural approach based on manipulation.

Approach to teaching

Working across disciplines is an important part of my teaching.  I seek to support individuals to develop the skills that enable them to participate in society - to be empowered and capable of expressing their opinions on issues of social, political, cultural and economic importance.

I have taught across Art, 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.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Tom Ainsworth is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

learning Social Sciences
medical student Social Sciences
education Social Sciences
Teaching Social Sciences
creativity Social Sciences
student Social Sciences
conversation Social Sciences
art Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2013 2019

Design Research for Change 2019

Sutherland, S., Tham, M., Ainsworth, T. & Sherriff, N., 2019, Design Research for Change 2019. Rodgers, P. (ed.). Lancaster: Lancaster University, p. 4-5 2 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

Open Access
art education

Interdisciplinary Design in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Brighton

Boddington, A., Kermik, J. & Ainsworth, T., 2016, Creating Innovation Leaders: A Global Perspective. Banerjee, B. & Ceri, S. (eds.). Springer, p. 239-254 (Understanding Innovation).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

medical student

Drawing conversation

Lyon, P., Letschka, P., Ainsworth, T. & Haq, I., 1 Oct 2013

Research output: Other contribution

open access

Activities 2011 2019

  • 1 Exhibition, performance
  • 1 External funding peer-review
  • 1 Invited talk
  • 1 Oral presentation

Design Research for Change Showcase

Sally Sutherland (Participant), Tom Ainsworth (Participant), Nigel Sherriff (Participant), Mathilda Tham (Participant)
19 Sep 201922 Sep 2019

Activity: EventsExhibition, performance

External Peer Review Panel Member Techne Doctoral Funding Scheme

Tom Ainsworth (Reviewer)
2017 → …

Activity: External funding peer-review

'Collaborative drawing as a tool for learning in Craft and Medicine'

Philippa Lyon (Presenter), Patrick Letschka (Presenter), Thomas Ainsworth (Presenter), I. Haq (Presenter)
11 Sep 2012

Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk


Drawing as a transdisciplinary approach in art and medicine

Philippa Lyon (Presenter), Patrick Letschka (Presenter), Thomas Ainsworth (Presenter)
2 May 2011

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation