Designing Your Research Agenda (DYRA) 3.1

Design scholars and researchers discuss various aspects of their research agendas

Friday, November 17, 2023
12pm Eastern / 11am Central
Virtual Event

Designing Your Research Agenda is a panel discussion and open forum for design scholars and researchers to discuss various aspects of their research agendas. We aim to open a dialog regarding multiple challenges of discovering one’s design research inquiry. Designing Your Research Agenda is an ongoing design research event series.

  • Ayako Maruyama (RISD)
  • Nate Matteson  (DePaul University)
  • Johanna Mehl (TU Dresden)

Some of the questions we will discuss with panelists include:

  • How did you determine your research agenda (high-level timeline of your career/trajectory)
  • How do you define research and why do you think it matters/for society, the field, and yourself?
  • How do your department and institution define and support the work you do?
  • How would you describe/categorize your department and institution?
  • If you were going to position your work within a category, would you say your research addresses: design theory, design history, design practice, design research (traditional graphic design, speculative design, UXUI, typography, AR, VR, creative computing, design solutions, etc.), design pedagogy, or something else?
  • What barriers (if any) exist at your institution or in the field for creating and disseminating your research?


Jessica Barness
Kent State University

Heather Snyder Quinn
DePaul University


Ayako Maruyama
Rhode Island School of Design

Ayako Maruyama (she/her) is a Filipina-Japanese designer, educator, and illustrator whose practice revolves around intentional collaboration, reflection, collective recovery, maintenance, and repair within the design domain. Working with organizers, artists, designers, students, and planners, Ayako’s involvement with the Design Studio for Social Intervention commenced in 2012. Notably, she recently co-authored and co-illustrated the published book, “Ideas Arrangements Effects: Systems Design and Social Justice.”

Ayako and her team at the Design Studio for Social Intervention focus on creating public engagement strategies that prioritize community development without displacement, along with reimagining public spaces at the Design Gym. With a rich background, Ayako has conducted numerous zine workshops, contributed as a faculty member at Boston University’s City Planning and Urban Affairs program since 2013, and initiated the annual Experience of Public Engagement studio at RISD in 2017.

Having served as an Urbanist in Residence and currently being part of the Collective Recovery Team at the University of Orange, Ayako holds a position as a Board Member at the institution. Additionally, she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Industrial Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she imparts knowledge through teaching graduate thesis studio, foundational, and advanced design studios.

Nate Matteson 
DePaul University

Nathan Matteson is an Associate professor at DePaul University’s School of Design; a co-director of DePaul’s ‘Scandinavia: design, landscape, and society’ study abroad program; a researcher with the Center for robust decision-making in climate and energy policy at the University of Chicago; and a principal and designer at Obstructures. He is a ruthlessly collaborative designer whose work merrily ignores the perceived boundaries among disciplines, and is currently engaged with dead Swedish architects, guitars, the US energy sector, obstacles, and objects in the distance. His practice situates itself at an intersection amongst intersections, dead ends, superhighways, and goat paths, wringing its metaphorical hands over the relationships among computation, intention, materiality, and immateriality.

Johanna Mehl
TU Dresden

Johanna Mehl (she/her) is a designer, scholar, and educator interested in the politics and relations that take shape through and around design practices. She holds a B.A. in Communication Design and an M.A. in Art and Design Studies. Besides her artistic and curatorial practice, she has taught in the fields of digital media, culture studies, and design theory at different design schools across Europe. She is an editorial board member of the Design+Posthumanism Network and part of the research group Against Catastrophe. She holds research fellowship at TU Dresden where she is a  PhD candidate at the Chair for Digital Cultures. Her dissertation is about design responses to the climate crisis and stems from critiques of design that acknowledge its entanglements not only with the material realities, but also the geopolitical, psychological, and social conditions of climate change.