I’m a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at University College London (UCL) and a member of the multi-disciplinary Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group, which aims to develop digital mapping tools and participatory methods that can enable people with little or no technical, scientific, numeric or textual literacy to identify and respond to environmental challenges (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/excites). Inspired by the work of Arturo Escobar on “ontological design” and David Turnbull and Wade Chambers on complex adaptive systems and “storied spaces”, my research focuses on whether and how digital technologies can be designed to provide an appropriate “third space” for different knowledge traditions – including “indigenous” and “scientific” knowledges – to meet and articulate without any one being subjugated to any other. I divide my research time between following the software design and development process in the UK, and tracing the use of that software in projects with local and indigenous communities in the Congo Basin.
Major research themes include: the anthropology of conservation and development initiatives, particularly with regards to participatory approaches and power relationships in complex, multi-stakeholder scenarios; knowledges and knowledge production; maps and mapping; digital anthropology; design; ICT4D; and the impact new technologies are having on economic, social and environmental processes across the globe. I am supervised by Dr Jerome Lewis and my current working title is Designs for the Pluriverse? Assembling Power and Knowledge in Extreme Citizen Science.
MSc Anthropology, Environment and Development – University College London, 2011-2013
Dissertation title – Dodging Silver Bullets: Opportunities and Challenges for an Extreme Citizen Science approach to forest management in the Republic of the Congo
Supervisor – Dr Jerome Lewis
BA (Hons) Social Anthropology – University of Cambridge, 2003-2006
Dissertation title – Practising Wicca, Neo-Pagan and Goddess spiritualities in Los Angeles
Supervisor – Dr Maryon McDonald
UCL Graduate Research Scholarship for Cross-Disciplinary Training (one year duration, undertaken in the UCL Interaction Centre)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) PhD studentship award (through the Challenging Engineering: Extreme Citizen Science grant – 3 year duration)
Parkes Foundation small grants fund 2013 (£600) for fieldwork in the Republic of the Congo
World Resources Institute (WRI) Small Grants Fund ($40,000) for a pilot project offering forest communities the opportunity to collect and publish data concerning logging company legality on the Global Forest Watch website.
Stevens, M., Vitos, M., Altenbuchner, J., Conquest, G., Lewis, J., Haklay, M. (2014) Taking Participatory Citizen Science to Extremes. In IEEE Pervasive Computing Apr-Jun 2014.
CONFERENCES, POSTERS & PRESENTATIONS
Extreme Citizen Science in the rainforest: Possibilities and problematics. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting 2014. Co-authored with Carolina Comandulli.
Mapping Tools for Non-Literate Cultures. Invited talk given at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s (RAI’s) Mapping Cultures event at the Horniman Museum, Nov 2014. With Julia Altenbuchner and Carolina Comandulli.
Opportunities and Challenges for Extreme Citizen Science in the rainforest: Field trials and future plans. Invited talk given at the Citizen CyberScience Summit, Feb 20-22 2014.
Introducing Sapelli: A mobile data collection platform for non-literate users. Poster presented at the fourth annual Symposium on Computing for Development (DEV-4), Cape Town, South Africa, 6-7 December 2013. With Stevens, M., Vitos, M., Altenbuchner, J., Lewis, J. & Haklay, M.
The use of apps to record illegal logging and poaching. Invited talk given at the National Environmental Crime Conference (NECC), Nov 2013. With Julia Altenbuchner.
I have also given a number of invited talks regarding my research for NGOs, companies and professional associations, including Forest Peoples Programme, the Global Canopy Programme, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Publishers’ database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing (PREPS) and The Access Initiative (TAI).
UCL MSc in Digital Anthropology
- Teaching assistant (core course and methods course) 2015-16
- Invited guest lecture on Extreme Citizen Science and the democratisation of technology 2014, 2015
UCL MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development 2014-15
- Course mentor as part of the UCL Graduate Support Scheme 2014-15
- Invited guest lecture on Preparing for the Field 2014, 2015
- Invited guest lecture on Tools and Techniques for Data Management 2015
Media Monitor – Precise., Feb 2011 – Jun 2013
Webmaster (freelance) – The Institute of Art and Ideas, May 2011 – Nov 2011
Economic Empowerment Consultant – Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation (LCDPF), April 2010 – November 2010
Research Animateur – The Big Wide Talk Children’s Project (BWT), May 2007 – March 2010
Project Manager – The Workplace Law Group, July 2006 – May 2007
I’m an enthusiastic writer, artist and photographer and a long-term member of two theatre companies with whom I have regularly participated in the Edinburgh Fringe as a writer, producer, director and actor (and very occasionally all four at once). I’m currently learning about traditional oral storytelling techniques and practices with a view to finding new ways to present my research in public spaces. I am also an experienced sailor and hold the RYA Day Skipper qualification.