• Design + Anthropology

    for Social Good

    Design Anthropologist & Research Artist

    Research + Design + Digital Production

  • About

    Dr. Adam Gamwell is a Design Anthropologist, or what he likes to call a Design-Centered Human, with international experience in ethnographic and contextual research, narrative media production, cultural analysis, social strategy and education.


    His Design Anthropology practice mixes holistic, systems-level perspectives, participatory design, and grounded, ethnographic analyses to collaboratively diagnose problems and craft solutions across culture, behavior, and environment.


    He co-founded and hatched Missing Link Studios, with data ethnographer Astrid Countee. Missing Link is a social intelligence agency that uses data driven media production to create compelling stories through podcasts, blogs, film, music, interactive web, research, and data journalism. They produce products and services for clients by working across data analytics, media production, design, and community management. Missing Link At the Studio Adam especially enjoys producing socially impactful narrative media, sound and web design.


    These days Adam is also playing with the idea of being a Research Artist, which he defines as a practitioner who infuses and transforms our experiences of academically-grounded, deep research with delight, spectacle, and provocation. His work blends science communication, public education, curiosity and wonder with rigorous research to help expand public consciousness, empathy and collective problem solving. He believes deeply that education is a fundamental human right, and that it should be enjoyable and engaging.


    He is Host, Creative Lead and Executive Producer of This Anthro Life Podcast, based in Boston, MA, and has over 15 years of audio production and sound engineering experience. He has also created the pilot for Experience by Design Podcast, and a collaborative mini-series on migration and cultural enterprise between the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the American Anthropological Association, and This Anthro Life called CultureMade.

  • Portfolio

    Current Work & Projects

    Digital Production + Creative Direction

    Creative Lead, Host, Executive Producer and Co-Founder

    Missing Link Studios This Anthro Life Podcast

    I head a narrative media and design collaborative dedicated to socializing and translating the power and value of social science research for businesses, educators, and social impact-oriented organizations. We connect the dots between research, data, design, and public media. 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 all levels of media and narrative production, website design and digital branding, cultural strategy, and public media outreach.

    Education + Instructional Design

    Adjunct Professor of Design

    Lesley University​

    Adjunct Professor of Civic Media Arts and Practice

    Emerson College

    Visiting Lecturer

    Olin College of Engineering

    Teaching Courses: Design Discourse,

    Design Thinking + Research,

    Digital Culture

    College of Art and Design


    Civic Media Methods: Participatory Design

    Civic Media Arts and Practice Masters Program


    Products and Marketing

    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 design in cultural specifics.


    I also teach design research and thinking that focuses on methodologies, techniques, and tactics for design research including observational research, empathy building, ideation, and prototyping.

    Visual De​sign + Web Development

    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, this site 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, I ran and coordinated the 2015-2016 Payments for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services (PACS) program with six Aymara and Quechua communities supporting the cultivation and conservation of five endangered ecotypes of quinoa for future generations. I also work in survey design and implementation including field experiments, total economic value surveys, and multiple incentive mechanisms.

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


    My work as a Cultural Anthropologist and PhD Candidate focuses on researching, developing and implementing conservation methodologies for at-risk Andean crops in southern Peru. Working between academic and applied realms, I combine ethnographic methods, design anthropology, research development, conservation best practices and market studies to improve communication and insight between multi-lateral stakeholders including government ministries, international NGOs, agricultural agencies, 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

    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.

    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.

    Talking Anthropology: Podcasting and its Potential for the Discipline (Part 2)

  • Selected Presentations + Workshops

    Across Design, Media, and Research

    Audio Narrative Workshop

    Love podcasting and public radio and want to learn how to apply some of the techniques of the trade? In this workshop media producer and podcaster Adam Gamwell PhD'18 (This Anthro Life, Missing Link Studios) will introduce participants to narrative audio and voice styles across public media and podcasting, recording and interview techniques, and crafting narrative audio. Whether you’re planning to interview a family member for oral history, want to start a podcast, or make your scholarship more public, this workshop will give you the framing and techniques to hit the ground recording.


    Friday March 1, 12:30pm Brandeis University

    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

    Culinary Catalysts and Scientific Shifts: Peruvian Quinoa in the Age of Genetics and Gastronomy

    Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, NM, March 2017 | Recording Available at SfAA Podcast Project and on This Anthro Life

    La ruta de las semillas de quinua de la iniciativa resca: retos y oportunidades a partir de la identificacion de los cultivares amenazados y de la apertura de nuevos eco-mercados

    English Translation: The Route of Quinoa Seeds from the PACS Initiative: Challenges and Opportunities from the identification of threatened varieties to the opening of new eco-markets.

    VI Congresso Internacional de la Quinua, March 2017, Puno, Peru

    Of Model Plants and Players: Quinoa Conservation and the Politics of Experimental Games in Southern Peru”

    American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, November 2016

    Constructive Airwaves: Anthropology and Public Engagement through Radio and Digital Media

    IAFOR North American Conference on Media, Communication and Culture, Providence, RI, September 2014

  • Offerings

    Let me help take your business to the next level. I offer workshops and short-term consulting in design (web, visual and audio), research, ethnography, and strategy

    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.

    Interviewer and Dialogue Facilitation

    With 5 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.

    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.

    Narrative Media Workshops

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

    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.

    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

    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

    Interaction Design Foundation

    Design Thinking | UX Design | User Research | Gestalt Psychology

    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

    March for Science

    National Operations Team

    Since December 2018

    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