Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Gillian R. Hayes

University of California, Irvine

Research focus
Gillian Hayes conducts research in the areas of human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, assistive and educational technologies, and health informatics. She designs, develops, deploys, and evaluates technologies to empower people to use collected data to address real human needs in sensitive and ethically responsible ways. In particular, her work addresses means for enabling vulnerable populations to participate in the technology design process, understand their own data, and use of these data to improve their quality of life.

My plans for the fellowship period
During the fellowship, I will conduct work in three areas. The first set of projects will focus on how to improve the ability for vulnerable populations to engage in design and research activities around technologies that can improve health outcomes. This work includes developing and evaluating co-design methods and the technologies they create for underrepresented minorities, children with special needs, and transition age youth. The second set of projects will focus on how the everyday wellbeing of children and families relates to their device use and the role technology can play in supporting children in response to challenges to their health and wellbeing. The third focus area will concentrate on building capacity within the research community. In particular, during the fellowship period, I will work with other fellowship recipients to conduct a series of workshops that will enable us to translate the best practices of our own work to others interested in the intersections of child development, health, media, and technology. Additionally, I will conduct research focused on understanding how people outside of technology fields learn about, understand, and make use of technologies in their research and interventions with the goal of improving cross-disciplinary collaborations.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
My work seeks to understand how to involve children, young adults, and their caregivers in the creation, use, and evaluation of technologies that are evidence-based, empowering, and supportive of child and youth development. The health and development of children is intimately tied to the wellbeing of their parents and other community members. Therefore, technologies to support child and youth development must consider the relationship of that child within the context of their familial relationships and origins. At the same time, to create and disseminate high quality innovations, design can and should be inclusive. Underrepresented minorities and children with special needs, in particular, have limited influence in the design process currently, and cross-disciplinary collaborations can be challenging and limited in scope. New design approaches, guidelines, and technologies must be developed and evaluated with an eye towards justice, inclusion, and capacity building. In this way, technologies and interventions to support children and youth can be personal yet scalable and sustainable.