Anthropology Careers in Information Technology

Panel: Genevieve Bell, Melissa Cefkin, and Jay Dautcher
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 3:15pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


How have anthropologists forged careers in digital technology? How have they used their academic training in anthropology to support the work of design and technology teams, conduct research in technical and organizational contexts, and helped to create new technologies and products that are centered on people’s needs and desires rather than simply silicon capabilities.

Come and hear a panel of anthropologists discuss their work in technology and design in corporate contexts.


Melissa Cefkin (PhD Anthropology, Rice) is a manager at IBM Research whose research focuses on work and consumption practices in complex technical and organizational contexts. She was previously a Director of Advance Research, User Experience, and Experience Modeling at Sapient Corporation, and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Research on Learning. She is the editor of Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter (Berghahn Books 2009) and the author of numerous publications on ethnographic research in corporate contexts.

Genevieve Bell (PhD Anthropology, Stanford) is the Director of Interaction and Experience Research in Intel Labs, where she leads a team of social scientists, interaction designers, human factors engineers and computer scientists conducting research on new computing experiences that are centered around people’s needs and desires. In 2010, she was named one of Fast Company’s inaugural ‘100 Most Creative People in Business.’ She is the co-author of Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing (MIT Press, 2011).

Jay Dautcher (PhD Anthropology, UC Berkeley) is Anthropology Data Scientist at Intuit where he is engaged in ethnographic research into the corporate practice of data science. He had postdoctoral training in Ethnohistory (Harvard) and Public Health (UC Berkeley), before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania as Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Folklore. He has conducted research on Muslim communities in western China, the alcohol beverage industry in China, and internet culture. For the past five years he has pursued ethnographic research to support the work of design and technology teams in Silicon Valley.

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