• Design + Anthropology

    for Social Good

    Design Anthropologist

    Research + Design + Strategy

  • About

    As a Design Anthropologist, I know that humans want to build products, services, and systems that solve challenges we face, make experiences delightful and memorable, and enhance our relational well-being. I also know how complex it is to align human needs, business goals, and cultural technologies. I use my skills in anthropology, human centered design and user experience to help clients uncover human and cultural insights, generate tactical empathy, and implement impact-oriented solutions.

    I co-founded Missing Link Studios,
    a collaborative social impact storytelling and design research studio that draws on design thinking, the social sciences, and mindfulness practices to help businesses, change makers and social impact organizations define and communicate their stories better.

    Podcasting and educational media are huge passions of mine. Some projects I've work on include:

    • This Anthro Life Podcast a conversational interview show exploring humanity's creative potential through culture, design and technology
    • Scene + Heard a designer biography show for the Lesley University College of Art and Design 
    • CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the American Anthropological Association
    • Faxina, a Portuguese language narrative podcast exploring the lives of Brazilian migrant house cleaners living and working in the United States

    I am dedicated to education and empowerment. I teach design-centered courses in the the Greater Boston Area around topics such as design and user research, digital cultures, products and marketing, and participatory and media design.

    My career in educational media podcasting inspires me to play with the idea of being a Research Artist, which I define as a practitioner who infuses and transforms our experiences of academically-grounded, deep research with delight, spectacle, and provocation. To this end my work blends science communication, public education, curiosity and wonder with rigorous research to help expand public consciousness, empathy and collective problem solving.

  • Portfolio

    Selected Work & Projects

    Digital Production + Creative Direction

    Creative Lead and Co-Founder + Producer

    Missing Link Studios This Anthro Life Podcast

    I head a collaborative social impact storytelling and design research studio. Melding design thinking, the social sciences, and mindfulness practices we help businesses, change makers and social impact organizations define and communicate their stories better.

    We connect the dots between research, data, design, and public media, and we help organizations and individuals more effectively share their stories with the world. We especially love working with community and educational organizations, non-profits, museums, and cultural institutions that want to spread public benefit through media.


    Services include discovery and exploratory research, experience analysis, digital production and design, branding, cultural strategy, and communication and content creation.

    Civic Media Design

    Co-PI, Researcher, Teacher + Author

    Make FOIA Work

    In collaboration with independent and alternative news and information platforms Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ) and MuckRock, I’m excited to announce the release of Make FOIA Work.


    Make FOIA Work is a news literacy project that reimagines journalism through design-oriented, participatory and collaborative journalism pedagogies.


    Working across classrooms, design studios, newsrooms and employing participatory design and data visualization tools, participants created collaborative data-driven and engagement-based stories that developed from successful FOIA requests. The project explores how data visualization and participatory design can change the way we create stories, gather news, or produce local reporting?

    Education + Teaching

    Courses Taught:
    Design Discourse,

    Design Thinking + Research,

    Digital Culture

    Lesley University, College of Art and Design


    Civic Media Methods: Participatory Design

    Emerson College, Media Design Masters Program


    Products and Marketing (Entrepreneurship)

    Olin College of Engineering

    I teach courses that help emerging professional designers and civic practitioners understand who they are designing for, how to understand their own values as designers and to apply them, to question universalizing claims, and to contextualize designs in cultural specifics.


    I also teach methodologies, techniques, and tactics for design research including observational research, empathy building, ideation, validation and prototyping.

    Visual De​sign + Web Development

    I designed and manage the Business Anthropology Community website, a thriving initiative the brings together the best of business practices, design, career networking, teaching, and visibility for anthropology in business. The community is a venue for sharing knowledge and resources and for enlarging the discussion on the value of business anthropology both intellectually and as an applied practice.


    Following my design values of simplicity, attention to detail, and information clarity, my portfolio demonstrates some of my aesthetic inspirations with clean lines, breathable space, and inviting visual design. I regularly consult with users and stakeholders to iterate and improve site mechanics and interaction experience.

    Research + Strategy Consulting

    Research Fellow and Consultant

    Bioversity International

    Scientific Intern

    Peruvian Ministry of the Environment

    As a field anthropologist and research fellow working in Peru, I ran and coordinated the 2015-2016 Payments for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services (PACS) program with six Aymara and Quechua communities, which supported the cultivation and conservation of five endangered varieties of quinoa. Across 2 years, I conducted a broad cross section of interviews, focus groups and observational and live-in research among farmers, scientists, government employees, chefs and international development organizations.


    I designed and carried out surveys, framed economic field experiments and total economic value surveys aimed at understanding and measuring topics like how people share agricultural and scientific knowledge, make decisions about what food to grow, and willingness to pay for conservation.

    Consultant + Researcher

    Kai Pacha Foods

    Early Client Scouting for food startup, Problem and Product Definitions, Observational Research, Fact Checking



    Brandeis University

    PhD Candidate 

    Aug 2012 – Aug 2018

    Specializations: Design Anthropology, Biodiversity Conservation, Food Studies, Science and Technology, Climate and Environmental Change


    My work as a Cultural Anthropologist and PhD Candidate focused on researching, designing and implementing conservation methodologies for at-risk Andean crops in southern Peru. Working between academic and applied realms, I combined ethnographic methods, design anthropology, participatory research, conservation best practices and market studies to improve communication and insight between government ministries, international NGOs, agricultural agencies, entrepreneurs and farming communities to improve farmer livelihood, ecosystem maintenance, and food security outcomes.


    Dissertation: Designing the Future of Food: Quinoa Agrobiodiversity in 21st Century Highland Peru

  • Publications

    Podcast and Audio Pedagogy, Food & Agriculture, Research & Design

    Make FOIA Work: Participatory Design Field Guide

    This guide provides the techniques, methods and reflections that came out of the Make FOIA Work project and the Participatory Methods class in the Media Design program at the Engagement Lab and Emerson College.


    This guide is designed for journalists, educators, students, and communities to use and follow for creating more collaborative, participatory and inclusive projects.

    Crowdsourcing the Conversation: On the Future of Podcasting, Public Engagement, and Exercising the Anthropological Tool Kit

    We explore the This Anthro Life Podcast project through three themes: anthropology as a conversation, the contemporary need for generalists, and why we see podcasting as a means to public engagement, but not an end in and of itself.

    Consulting Podcasters: Prototyping a Democratic Tool for Multiple Voices, Storytelling and Solution Finding

    Much like Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had created a niche for himself as a “consulting detective,” there are an increasing number of consulting anthropologists who apply their training, skills, and specialties to helping people define and solve problems today. As anthropologists and podcasters for This Anthro Life, the authors of this paper approach podcasting as a democratic audiovisual production that provides space for multiple voices through storytelling and conversation. Drawing on experiences in design anthropology, media production, and speculative fiction, this paper prototypes the contours of “consulting podcasting,” the work of collaboratively generating shared knowledge for shaping sustainable futures.

    Check out the Consulting Podcasters Presentation!

    Matt and I spoke as part of the New Methods,Interventions and Approaches Panel at the 2018 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Thanks to the SfAA Podcast team for recording the session!

    Cooking Up an International Market for Quinoa

    In Peru, a chef and an agronomist are using the kitchen of a five-star hotel to create an appetite for threatened varieties of a traditional crop.​ SAPIENS, August 2017

    Talking Anthropology: Podcasting for the Public (Part One)

    Following on a recent piece by Lindsay A. Bell on Podcast Pedagogy, this two-part post explores the potential of the podcast medium outside of traditional academic settings, taking its cue from the mission and work of the This Anthropological Life podcast created, hosted, and produced by PhD students Adam Gamwell, Ryan Collins, and Aneil Tripathy at Brandeis University.

    Talking Anthropology: Podcasting and its Potential for the Discipline (Part Two)

    Of Quinoa, Agricultural Science, and Social Change

    Adam Gamwell rounds out the anthropologies #22 issue on food. Gamwell is a public anthropologist and PhD Candidate at Brandeis University working across food, design, science, and markets. His research is based in southern Peru on quinoa. He is also Creative Director and host for This Anthro Life Podcast.

  • Selected Presentations + Workshops

    Across Storytelling, Media Design, and Social Sciences

    The Future is In Between: Career Experiments Across Podcasting, Design and Storytelling

    Keynote - Transformations Conference, Wayne State University, Feb 2020

    Breaking the Podcast Mold: Using Ethnography and Participatory Methods to Build Narrative from Fieldwork, Observations and Interviews

    Intelligent Speech Conference, July 2019

    This Anthro Life Podcast episode 94. Adam's personal and scholarly exploration into conversations and podcasting as social technologies. Adapted to podcast from his Tech Talk at Pivotal Labs in June 2017 | Available on This Anthro Life

    Tech Talk at Pivotal Labs, Cambridge, MA June 27, 2015 | Available on Youtube

  • Offerings

    Let me help take your business to the next level. I offer workshops and facilitation, design research, ethnography, and communication and content strategy

    Design Thinking, Innovation Research and Facilitation

    I have taught and implemented design thinking and participatory research for over three years and love helping people and organizations frame, scope, and execute design challenges.

    Media Design Workshops

    I'll teach your group the fundamentals of media production, ethnographic narrative, the value of media for research and business, and deliver tools in how to get started.

    Interviewer and Dialogue Facilitation

    With 7 years hosting and producing podcasts, over 10 years in higher education, I can facilitate conversations and conduct interviews that get to the heart of the matter and bring clarity and insight.

    Branding and Marketing Strategy

    I'll work with you or your team to craft succinct, ear catching elevator pitches and value propositions to attract clients, jobs, and clarify your value.

    Design Research + Social Listening

    Engagement in processes of monitoring social media, traditional media, and targeted contextual research for mentions of brands, competitors, products to discern trends and themes relevant to stakeholder development and growth.

    Audio Production and Sound Engineering

    I have been a live and studio recording musician for over 15 years and work with a range of professional audio equipment including DAWS like PreSonus and Zoom, and software including Apple Logic Pro X and Adobe Audition, and Hindenburg. I work with all range of microphones and instruments.

    Podcasting and Field Recording

    As part of producing This Anthro Life for the past 5 years, I serve as producer and sound engineer. I have specialty in vocal recording, mixing, and mastering. I work in studio as well as on location.

    Web Design + Branding

    Work from the ground up or if you just need a refresh. Comfortable working across content management systems (CMS) like Wordpress, and branding strategy.

  • Education


    July 2019-Feb 2020

    User Experience Research & Design Bootcamp

    • User Research - Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
    • Information Architecture
    • Wire-framing, Mockups, User Interface Design
    • Prototyping
    • Usability Testing and Validation
    • Project Management

    Brandeis University

    Ph.D. (2012-2018)


    • Specialization: Design Anthropology, Food Systems, Sustainability, Team-based Negotiation, Ecology, Quinoa and Andean Crops, Conservation
    • Area Focus: Peru - Latin America, Lima, Cusco and Puno, Peru, Andes Region

    Brandeis University

    M.A. (2009-2011)


    • Specialization: Social Movements, Local Mobilization, Cultural Expression, Indigenous Groups, State and Social Relations, Protest
    • Area Focus: Latin America, Bolivia, Andes Region
  • Professional Associations + Volunteer Work

    AIGA The Professional Association for Design

    Boston Chapter

    Since 2017

    American Anthropological Association

    Since August 2009

    Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC)

    Since 2017

    Consortium of Applied and Practicing Anthropologists (COPAA)

    Since 2017

    Society for Applied Anthropology

    Since 2016

  • Social Media

    Let's get in touch! Join me on LinkedIn or Twitter to start a conversation, inquire about services or presentations, or to simply say hi.


    Get in Touch or Book Me