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Carissa Carter - Stanford Microfluidics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering

“I applied to Stanford because of its unique program in design, not found at other universities.”

Carissa Carter - Stanford Microfluidics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering

Three years ago, I was a geologist. Id finished my undergraduate and graduate degrees in geomorphology, and was working on sedimentology research at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The jump from geology to design sounds big, but I have been lucky to have worked with a number of brilliant and inspiring people that always pushed me to explore new directions with my research. When I realized that my interests spanned beyond the bounds of the geosciences, my mentors and family encouraged me to find a place to incubate. I applied to Stanford because of its unique program in design, not found at other universities. With a curriculum that merges engineering, art, and the physical and social sciences, the Stanford Design Program was the ideal choice for my MS, and now PhD in engineering-design.

What I Work On

My research is on emergent design. Designers, engineers, politicians, and others who make decisions that affect a large number of people need to know the nature of the issues affecting their constituents, and be able to make design decisions to create widespread change. Emergent design accesses the stories and experiences of millions, and looks for unexpected themes and dynamics that arise. My research involves building emergent design methodologies and toolsets, as well as processing the data and using the collected information to deliver design solutions.

Whats Great About Studying Here

My experience at Stanford has fundamentally changed my way of thinking. I have learned to build and create in new dimensions and approach problems with a broad mindset. Most importantly, I continue to meet and interact with amazing faculty, students, and industry experts that challenge me every day. I am always impressed with the people and resources around me.

What I Hope to Do

I would love to bring emergent design to a level where we can use it for large-scale change. There are numerous complex andgrand world problems. Many people have experiences and stories to tell about these issues. I hope to harness their experiences and create a space where people are connected by perception. In terms of my future, I am a fan of experiences. I would like to continue to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities as they come along. I see myself working both in and out of academia. My dream is to be inspiring enough to speak at TED.