At a time of unprecedented challenges facing society, we need to develop strategies for collective innovation where we engage many diverse stakeholders to generate ideas, provide feedback, and co-create better, more inclusive outcomes. Design can no longer be seen as a solitary endeavor where a designer, through pure force of talent, improves a product or service, and then hands it off to a community of use.

The ProtoLab combines research in design thinking, crowdsourcing, and decision making to create novel social technologies that motivate participation and organize people around complex problems in civics, healthcare, climate change, and education. Our research investigates the underlying social and cognitive mechanisms that impact how different groups— from local communities, to classrooms of students, to online crowds — tackle complex problems creatively and collaboratively.

Technology has not only transformed how we share information, but how we collaborate to solve complex problems. As part of our research process in the ProtoLab, we observe how groups appropriate technology to serve their goals, we conceptually model collaborative processes, and we design and test novel systems that explore opportunities for how people can work together. Ultimately, our research seeks to deepen our understanding of how the creative process works, to improve design practice for teams, and to teach design more effectively to larger audiences.

How to get involved

For PhD Students:

Prospective PhD students should apply either to the Cognitive Science PhD program or the Computer Science and Engineering program at UC San Diego. If you would like to work with Prof. Dow, make sure to mention him in your application. If you are currently a UCSD PhD student and you would like to get involved, feel free to reach out to Prof. Dow.

For Masters and Undergraduate Students:

Specific research projects are led by phd students and postdocs. If you want to be considered for a research project, please can apply here. Apply by October 15th 2018 for full consideration for the 2018-2019 school year.

Students from outside of UCSD: internship opportunities will be able for summer 2019. The application form will posted in March 2019.