Michelle Westerlaken is a postdoctoral research associate in the Smart Forests project in the department of Sociology with a PhD in Interaction Design from Malmö University. The Smart Forest project investigates the social-political impacts of digital technologies that monitor and govern forest environments.
As an interdisciplinary researcher and designer, her work builds on posthumanism, feminist technoscience, critical animal studies, and participatory design methods to investigate possibilities for humans and other species for more relational —multispecies— ways of living on this planet. So far, these projects have involved design negotiations together with cats, dogs, ants, penguins, and various interactive technologies.
Besides doing research, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the topics of design theory, sociology, playful interaction, interactive storytelling, and experimental game design. What draws her into the woods can be summarized as a desire to learn, forage responsibly, and care for the multispecies worlds that are made as forests increasingly express themselves through digital technologies.