About the Participants
“Textiles, Technology, and Social Good”
Trisha L. Andrew is a professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She directs the Wearable Electronics Lab, a multidisciplinary research team that innovates methods and materials to coat fibers, fabrics, and garments and to transform them into electronically active devices. The coated fibers and fabrics can harvest solar light, store energy, capture carbon dioxide, and sense temperature, touch, motion, or physiological signals. She is founder and CTO of Soliyarn LLC, a Boston-based startup that is commercializing vapor-coating technology to transform off-the-shelf fabrics into smart clothing. She is a David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellow, a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator, a L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellow, a 3M Nontenured Faculty Award winner, and was named a Forbes magazine “30 Under 30” Innovator in Energy.
Emilie Giles is a researcher, artist, and educator. Her work is situated within human-computer interaction, focusing on the linking of creative technology, craft practice, and accessibility. She earned her PhD from The Open University, United Kingdom, and is a senior lecturer at The Arts University Bournemouth, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in graphic design. Her research explores how people who might not always have access to digital tools can do so on their own terms creatively, giving a greater sense of agency and empowerment. Her PhD work explored the process of working with blind and visually impaired people to make their own e-textile interactive art pieces and how personal stories or memories could be told through the work.
Ursula Wolz holds a PhD in artificial intelligence and has a day job consulting on machine learning for innovative textile production. Her volunteer work centers on textile handcrafts for social justice. As a computer science educator and entrepreneur, she studies and builds computer-based learning environments that include non-traditional media for teaching coding. She founded RiverSound Solutions with a mission to empower computer users to become creators with, rather than consumers of, computing. Her recent work, called “code crafting,” explores how computer science theory is firmly grounded in textile production, borrowing from concepts and techniques established by textile handcrafters millennia before the invention of the Jacquard Loom. Her work contrasts with the automated assessment technology of current instructional technology. She promotes learning environments modeled on ancient women-centered crafting circles, in which skills and knowledge grow organically from the interaction between mentor and student as meaningful work produces useful artifacts.
Aarathi Prasad, assistant professor of computer science at Skidmore College, earned her PhD in computer science from Dartmouth College, completing a thesis that proposed techniques to allow users to share information when using mobile health applications while protecting their privacy. Prior to coming to Skidmore, she worked as a visiting professor at Amherst College. Her research interest is in developing secure and usable applications for mobile and wearable technologies. She teaches computer science courses at all levels, especially in the areas of systems and security. Prasad served on the faculty advisory group for the exhibition Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science at the Tang Teaching Museum.