Skip to content
design lab UCSD maya azarova

Design Lab Anthropology Graduate Student Wins Prestigious CRES Award

Design Lab Anthropology Graduate Student Wins Prestigious CRES Award

Design Lab Anthropology Graduate Student Wins Prestigious CRES Award

Peering into our culture can reveal new insights about how multidisciplinary teams solve socio-technical problems. Maya Azarova, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, mentored by Professor Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, recently received the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Scholarship (CRES) to investigate the backstage of innovation. The goal is to explore how teams comprising of individuals from various disciplines create new technologies.

Azarova was initially drawn to the scholarship as it recognizes academic research across a multitude of fields including arts, social sciences, engineering and medicine. Participation in the Jacob School of Engineering’s 2nd Annual Design Competition inspired her to speak with other students from diverse fields such as computer science and visual arts. What began as several distinct conversations organically developed into a research group dedicated to different methods of communication and design in healthcare. Azarova truly believes that effective problem-solving stems from knowledge-sharing that transcends academic boundaries.


Maya Azarova, UC San Diego Anthropology and Design Lab Graduate Student

The funding will specifically be used to fuel her dissertation research, which consists of two parts. Under the guidance of Professor Aronoff-Spencer, Azarova is currently leading an ethnographic effort tasked with examining team communication and knowledge production in the team creating innovative devices for infant biometrics. Delving into the complex interactions among physicians and engineers, Azarova hopes to document an understanding of the co-creation process through the lens of social cultural anthropology.

Her second focus is on big data applications in digital collaboration platforms to analyze the relationship between the online messaging space and long-term communication patterns in multidisciplinary teams. Exploring an untapped topic area through emerging communication tools such as Slack offers an opportunity to observe how real life interactions mirror those found in conversation narratives. Azarova intends to work closely with researchers at The Design Lab to exchange expertise in the field in addition to utilizing resources at the UC San Diego Library’s Data & GIS Lab.

Azarova expresses tremendous gratitude towards The Design Lab, specifically Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, Design Lab Director Don Norman, and Cognitive Science Professor David Kirsh, for their support and guidance.

It is visionary that my main mentor was someone from outside my own department, beyond the normative environment to break those boundaries, says Azarova.

Although it is too early to draw any conclusions, Azarova hopes that a symbiotic relationship between social cultural anthropology and innovative fields will uncover a plethora of other impactful applications.

Peering into our culture can reveal new insights about how multidisciplinary teams solve socio-technical problems. Maya Azarova, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, mentored by Professor Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, recently received the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Scholarship (CRES) to investigate the backstage of innovation. The goal is to explore how teams comprising of individuals from various disciplines create new technologies.

Azarova was initially drawn to the scholarship as it recognizes academic research across a multitude of fields including arts, social sciences, engineering and medicine. Participation in the Jacob School of Engineering’s 2nd Annual Design Competition inspired her to speak with other students from diverse fields such as computer science and visual arts. What began as several distinct conversations organically developed into a research group dedicated to different methods of communication and design in healthcare. Azarova truly believes that effective problem-solving stems from knowledge-sharing that transcends academic boundaries.


Maya Azarova, UC San Diego Anthropology and Design Lab Graduate Student

The funding will specifically be used to fuel her dissertation research, which consists of two parts. Under the guidance of Professor Aronoff-Spencer, Azarova is currently leading an ethnographic effort tasked with examining team communication and knowledge production in the team creating innovative devices for infant biometrics. Delving into the complex interactions among physicians and engineers, Azarova hopes to document an understanding of the co-creation process through the lens of social cultural anthropology.

Her second focus is on big data applications in digital collaboration platforms to analyze the relationship between the online messaging space and long-term communication patterns in multidisciplinary teams. Exploring an untapped topic area through emerging communication tools such as Slack offers an opportunity to observe how real life interactions mirror those found in conversation narratives. Azarova intends to work closely with researchers at The Design Lab to exchange expertise in the field in addition to utilizing resources at the UC San Diego Library’s Data & GIS Lab.

Azarova expresses tremendous gratitude towards The Design Lab, specifically Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, Design Lab Director Don Norman, and Cognitive Science Professor David Kirsh, for their support and guidance.

It is visionary that my main mentor was someone from outside my own department, beyond the normative environment to break those boundaries, says Azarova.

Although it is too early to draw any conclusions, Azarova hopes that a symbiotic relationship between social cultural anthropology and innovative fields will uncover a plethora of other impactful applications.

Peering into our culture can reveal new insights about how multidisciplinary teams solve socio-technical problems. Maya Azarova, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, mentored by Professor Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, recently received the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Scholarship (CRES) to investigate the backstage of innovation. The goal is to explore how teams comprising of individuals from various disciplines create new technologies.

Azarova was initially drawn to the scholarship as it recognizes academic research across a multitude of fields including arts, social sciences, engineering and medicine. Participation in the Jacob School of Engineering’s 2nd Annual Design Competition inspired her to speak with other students from diverse fields such as computer science and visual arts. What began as several distinct conversations organically developed into a research group dedicated to different methods of communication and design in healthcare. Azarova truly believes that effective problem-solving stems from knowledge-sharing that transcends academic boundaries.


Maya Azarova, UC San Diego Anthropology and Design Lab Graduate Student

The funding will specifically be used to fuel her dissertation research, which consists of two parts. Under the guidance of Professor Aronoff-Spencer, Azarova is currently leading an ethnographic effort tasked with examining team communication and knowledge production in the team creating innovative devices for infant biometrics. Delving into the complex interactions among physicians and engineers, Azarova hopes to document an understanding of the co-creation process through the lens of social cultural anthropology.

Her second focus is on big data applications in digital collaboration platforms to analyze the relationship between the online messaging space and long-term communication patterns in multidisciplinary teams. Exploring an untapped topic area through emerging communication tools such as Slack offers an opportunity to observe how real life interactions mirror those found in conversation narratives. Azarova intends to work closely with researchers at The Design Lab to exchange expertise in the field in addition to utilizing resources at the UC San Diego Library’s Data & GIS Lab.

Azarova expresses tremendous gratitude towards The Design Lab, specifically Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, Design Lab Director Don Norman, and Cognitive Science Professor David Kirsh, for their support and guidance.

It is visionary that my main mentor was someone from outside my own department, beyond the normative environment to break those boundaries, says Azarova.

Although it is too early to draw any conclusions, Azarova hopes that a symbiotic relationship between social cultural anthropology and innovative fields will uncover a plethora of other impactful applications.

Read Next

Overcrowded Verganti Design

Don Norman: Overcrowded, by Roberto Verganti: In favor of criticism

I was just in Germany, in Herzogenaurach to be precise, at Adidas headquarters. (Hardly anyone knows where Herzogenaurach is — it’s a 20 minute taxi from Nuremberg.) I was at a conference organized by my old friend (and co-author) Roberto Verganti, from the business school at Politecnico di Milano. Years ago, he and I had a debate in Milan about the value of Human-Centered Design (HCD) and the way it is normally practiced. To the audience’s great surprise, we both agreed:

1. HCD is a powerful tool for improving existing products. That is, it is a powerful tool for incremental innovation.
2. HCD, by its very nature (hill-climbing plus a kind of design by committee), is a really bad tool for radical innovation.

SAP collaborates with Design Lab students

In December, UC San Diego Design Lab students wrapped up two major projects with SAP,…

Ucsd Design Lab Platforms

How pizza could save the world

On a recent Hawaiian vacation, Don stayed at a truly luxurious resort. It wasn’t his style. He couldn’t help but notice the contrast with the poorer sections of the island where locals lived and tourists rarely ventured. Is this the planet’s future? Two distinct cultures, one of isolated wealth and excess, the other of poverty? When we discussed this question, Don couldn’t help but mention he’d also found amazing pizza on the island.
Benjamin Bergen

Design Lab member Benjamin Bergen featured as an expert in “History of Swear Words”

Picture Credit: Netflix

Design Lab member and UC San Diego Cognitive Science professor Benjamin Bergen was featured as an expert in "History of Swear Words," a new Netflix comedy series exploring the usage of and science behind cursing. Bergen is the author of "What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves" and "Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning"

Watch the full series now on Netflix!
Design Lab Uc San Diego Dexcom Automation

A New Partnership Seeks to Inject User Trust into Diabetes Management Technology

Advances in healthcare technology are revolutionizing the management of diabetes. Continuous glucose monitoring systems paired…

San Diego And Tijuana Selected As 2024 World Design Capital

San Diego And Tijuana Selected As 2024 World Design Capital

US-Mexico Border Cities Win Historic Designation to Become First Binational Design Capital

SAN DIEGO-TIJUANA - Today the World Design Organization (WDO) announced the San Diego-Tijuana region has been selected as the World Design Capital (WDC) for 2024.

The selection of the San Diego-Tijuana joint bid makes it the first binational World Design Capital in WDO history. While the designation is for both cities as a united region, San Diego is now the first U.S. city ever to receive the WDC designation. Tijuana is the second city in Mexico to hold the title, following Mexico City in 2018.

"We did it!" said Don Norman, founder of UC San Diego’s Design Lab (now retired) and co-founder and Board advisor to the Design Forward Alliance (DFA). "Designers, city officials, and organizations in both the Tijuana and San Diego regions collaborated to make our binational community the World Design Capital for 2024. It shows the power of design as a way of thinking, to address important societal issues, and as a source of innovation for companies, organizations, and educational communities at all levels. We have built a permanent coalition of our communities to address civic and climate challenges, to grow our industrial sectors, and to support a strong culture of cross-border design."
Back To Top