Kate Ringland joined the Baskin School of Engineering in June 2020 as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor of Computational Media Sri Kurniawan’s Assistive Sociotechnical Solutions for Individuals with Special Needs using Technology (ASSIST) Lab. There she studied how technology could be used to support people with disabilities. Ringland then became an assistant professor of computational media in summer 2021. Her research centers around the idea of using a critical disability lens to illuminate how marginalized communities leverage social media and games for socialization and support.
What compelled you to accept a faculty position at the Baskin School of Engineering?
One reason was the Santa Cruz area. It’s a very similar vibe to the area in Seattle that I grew up in. Another reason is the community at the Baskin Engineering Computational Media Department. Everyone is really friendly, welcoming, and engaged in fascinating research. It was just a really good match for my planned research program, and it made sense to be here.
What research are you working on?
I study marginalized communities and how we use play to build relationships and explore difficult conversations. I am currently focused on looking at different social media platforms, specifically the band BTS’s Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth (ARMY) fandom, and how they are using play in their social spaces to build and engage their communities but also discuss difficult topics like racial inequality and disability access and inclusion.
What classes are you teaching this year?
I’m teaching two courses this year: Introduction to Game Design for the Games and Playable Media master’s program and Introduction to Design for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) for the new HCI master’s program at the Silicon Valley Campus.
What’s your teaching experience been like so far this academic year?
It’s been fun. I’m essentially building the HCI class from scratch because it’s a brand new program. I’ve taught HCI classes before but have never gotten to spend an entire quarter specifically on design, so that’s been super great to really dig into that area.
What advice do you have for Baskin Engineering students?
Get to know people, not just within Baskin Engineering but around campus. There are so many different programs that students can utilize, so I encourage students to be open to other things around campus.
Do you have a favorite experience that you’d like to share?
My favorite time of the week is on Wednesdays when I have my lab meetings and one-on-one Ph.D. student meetings. I am so impressed and motivated by the work my students are doing. It’s been really great to have that collaborative space, especially with the past year and half being so draining on us all.
Is there anything else you would like the Baskin Engineering community to know about you?
I’m really excited to be in a place that values interdisciplinary research and embraces research spaces like play. I’ve always been very interdisciplinary and have done many projects with other divisions, so I hope to continue doing that.
Ringland’s Website: https://kateringland.com/
Interview Date: November 1, 2021