Skip to content
Mai Nguyen

Announcing Appointment of Mai Thi Nguyen, Director of The Design Lab

Announcing Appointment of Mai Thi Nguyen, Director of The Design Lab

Announcing Appointment of Mai Thi Nguyen, Director of The Design Lab

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen as the next Faculty Director of the Design Lab, effective March 24, 2021.

Dr. Nguyen holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine and an M.A. in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University. She is an associate professor in the department of City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she directs the Center for Community Capital, a non-partisan, multi-disciplinary research center housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Nguyen additionally directs the Academic Leadership Program at UNC-CH, providing leadership training and mentorship to cohorts of academic leaders. She also serves as Director of the Equity and Resilience Lab, whose members are dedicated to the inquiry of equity and resilience in urban planning and public policy.

Dr. Nguyen’s research focuses broadly on social and spatial inequality, but more specifically on evaluating programs and public policies to create resilient, equitable, and inclusive communities to improve the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations, and create a better future for the next generation. Furthermore, her research has been guided by the goal of making a societal impact and translating research to a broad audience. To advance this goal, she disseminates her research to a wide variety of academic and non-academic outlets, including new forms of social media, as well as the performing arts.

A strong advocate for and champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Nguyen has served since 2012 as a Diversity Liaison for the UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences, actively mentoring underrepresented minorities and women to promote greater diversity in the planning academy. She also directs an intensive, 10-week national summer program, the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (MURAP) that trains and mentors minority undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts for a career in the academy. She has won several research awards for her commitment to equity, including the Plan for All Award for her work on anti-immigration policies. Dr. Nguyen has also been recognized with numerous awards for teaching excellence at the undergraduate and doctoral levels.

Dr. Nguyen is well positioned to lead the Design Lab, now in its 7th year, into its next chapter. As Faculty Director, Dr. Nguyen will convene and lead a diverse multi-disciplinary community to develop systems that can be trusted, used and appreciated, and to ultimately weave design into the fabric of academic, research and community life at UC San Diego. She will oversee and help grow a vigorous portfolio of high-quality, impactful and sustainable research and educational programming to engage communities beyond our university. Throughout her tenure at UNC-CH, she has engaged in and led cross-disciplinary, cross sector, and inter-institutional collaborations with the mindset that solving complex societal problems requires a multi-disciplinary, systems, and multi-scalar approach.

The Design Lab at UC San Diego was established to become a major international center for human-centered design, with the focus on people in the making of complex built, social and environmental systems that cut across the arts, humanities, engineering, and the sciences (behavioral, biological, computation, physical, and social). Design faculty from across campus come together to work on complex issues in knowledge, learning, health, mobility, communication, and community planning, among others, with the aspiration to forms of design that acknowledge and address critical issues in ethics, inequality, and social justice.

We sincerely thank the members of the search committee, led by Professor Marta Kutas, for their thoughtful contributions and insights. We also appreciate the wide-ranging input from members of the campus community who participated in the search process.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen to UC San Diego, and in extending our sincere appreciation to outgoing Director Don Norman for his visionary leadership as founding Director of the Design Lab.

Elizabeth H. Simmons
Executive Vice Chancellor

Robert Continetti
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen as the next Faculty Director of the Design Lab, effective March 24, 2021.

Dr. Nguyen holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine and an M.A. in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University. She is an associate professor in the department of City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she directs the Center for Community Capital, a non-partisan, multi-disciplinary research center housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Nguyen additionally directs the Academic Leadership Program at UNC-CH, providing leadership training and mentorship to cohorts of academic leaders. She also serves as Director of the Equity and Resilience Lab, whose members are dedicated to the inquiry of equity and resilience in urban planning and public policy.

Dr. Nguyen’s research focuses broadly on social and spatial inequality, but more specifically on evaluating programs and public policies to create resilient, equitable, and inclusive communities to improve the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations, and create a better future for the next generation. Furthermore, her research has been guided by the goal of making a societal impact and translating research to a broad audience. To advance this goal, she disseminates her research to a wide variety of academic and non-academic outlets, including new forms of social media, as well as the performing arts.

A strong advocate for and champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Nguyen has served since 2012 as a Diversity Liaison for the UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences, actively mentoring underrepresented minorities and women to promote greater diversity in the planning academy. She also directs an intensive, 10-week national summer program, the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (MURAP) that trains and mentors minority undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts for a career in the academy. She has won several research awards for her commitment to equity, including the Plan for All Award for her work on anti-immigration policies. Dr. Nguyen has also been recognized with numerous awards for teaching excellence at the undergraduate and doctoral levels.

Dr. Nguyen is well positioned to lead the Design Lab, now in its 7th year, into its next chapter. As Faculty Director, Dr. Nguyen will convene and lead a diverse multi-disciplinary community to develop systems that can be trusted, used and appreciated, and to ultimately weave design into the fabric of academic, research and community life at UC San Diego. She will oversee and help grow a vigorous portfolio of high-quality, impactful and sustainable research and educational programming to engage communities beyond our university. Throughout her tenure at UNC-CH, she has engaged in and led cross-disciplinary, cross sector, and inter-institutional collaborations with the mindset that solving complex societal problems requires a multi-disciplinary, systems, and multi-scalar approach.

The Design Lab at UC San Diego was established to become a major international center for human-centered design, with the focus on people in the making of complex built, social and environmental systems that cut across the arts, humanities, engineering, and the sciences (behavioral, biological, computation, physical, and social). Design faculty from across campus come together to work on complex issues in knowledge, learning, health, mobility, communication, and community planning, among others, with the aspiration to forms of design that acknowledge and address critical issues in ethics, inequality, and social justice.

We sincerely thank the members of the search committee, led by Professor Marta Kutas, for their thoughtful contributions and insights. We also appreciate the wide-ranging input from members of the campus community who participated in the search process.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen to UC San Diego, and in extending our sincere appreciation to outgoing Director Don Norman for his visionary leadership as founding Director of the Design Lab.

Elizabeth H. Simmons
Executive Vice Chancellor

Robert Continetti
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen as the next Faculty Director of the Design Lab, effective March 24, 2021.

Dr. Nguyen holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine and an M.A. in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University. She is an associate professor in the department of City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she directs the Center for Community Capital, a non-partisan, multi-disciplinary research center housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Nguyen additionally directs the Academic Leadership Program at UNC-CH, providing leadership training and mentorship to cohorts of academic leaders. She also serves as Director of the Equity and Resilience Lab, whose members are dedicated to the inquiry of equity and resilience in urban planning and public policy.

Dr. Nguyen’s research focuses broadly on social and spatial inequality, but more specifically on evaluating programs and public policies to create resilient, equitable, and inclusive communities to improve the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations, and create a better future for the next generation. Furthermore, her research has been guided by the goal of making a societal impact and translating research to a broad audience. To advance this goal, she disseminates her research to a wide variety of academic and non-academic outlets, including new forms of social media, as well as the performing arts.

A strong advocate for and champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Nguyen has served since 2012 as a Diversity Liaison for the UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences, actively mentoring underrepresented minorities and women to promote greater diversity in the planning academy. She also directs an intensive, 10-week national summer program, the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (MURAP) that trains and mentors minority undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts for a career in the academy. She has won several research awards for her commitment to equity, including the Plan for All Award for her work on anti-immigration policies. Dr. Nguyen has also been recognized with numerous awards for teaching excellence at the undergraduate and doctoral levels.

Dr. Nguyen is well positioned to lead the Design Lab, now in its 7th year, into its next chapter. As Faculty Director, Dr. Nguyen will convene and lead a diverse multi-disciplinary community to develop systems that can be trusted, used and appreciated, and to ultimately weave design into the fabric of academic, research and community life at UC San Diego. She will oversee and help grow a vigorous portfolio of high-quality, impactful and sustainable research and educational programming to engage communities beyond our university. Throughout her tenure at UNC-CH, she has engaged in and led cross-disciplinary, cross sector, and inter-institutional collaborations with the mindset that solving complex societal problems requires a multi-disciplinary, systems, and multi-scalar approach.

The Design Lab at UC San Diego was established to become a major international center for human-centered design, with the focus on people in the making of complex built, social and environmental systems that cut across the arts, humanities, engineering, and the sciences (behavioral, biological, computation, physical, and social). Design faculty from across campus come together to work on complex issues in knowledge, learning, health, mobility, communication, and community planning, among others, with the aspiration to forms of design that acknowledge and address critical issues in ethics, inequality, and social justice.

We sincerely thank the members of the search committee, led by Professor Marta Kutas, for their thoughtful contributions and insights. We also appreciate the wide-ranging input from members of the campus community who participated in the search process.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen to UC San Diego, and in extending our sincere appreciation to outgoing Director Don Norman for his visionary leadership as founding Director of the Design Lab.

Elizabeth H. Simmons
Executive Vice Chancellor

Robert Continetti
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs

Read Next

Daniel Suh Designer-in-residence

Meet Designer-in-Residence & Data Analyst Daniel Suh

Daniel Suh has always been passionate about creating partnerships to uplift others. While he was an undergraduate at UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College, he founded one of the university’s first student consulting organizations, Cornerstone Community Consultants, which provides pro-bono opportunities for students to empower the local community. Suh also established UCSD’s first chapter of International Justice Mission, a student-led organization that centers around human rights, anti-human trafficking, and law enforcement. "Growing up in an underprivileged community, I've discovered a passion for social justice and contributing to causes larger than myself," Suh says.

SPUR Team 10

The team addresses a fundamental challenge in the academic environment: enhancing the understanding between staff,…

UC San Diego Health Launches New Center To Spur Patient-Centered Technologies

UC San Diego Health Launches New Center to Spur Patient-Centered Technologies

On behalf of UCSD Design Lab and the Center for Health Design, we’re excited to support the launch of this collaborative innovation ecosystem designing healthcare with our community. From tele-monitoring patients with diabetes to using artificial intelligence to prevent sepsis, the newly launched Center for Health Innovation at UC San Diego Health will seek to develop, test and commercialize technologies that make a real, measurable difference in the lives and wellbeing of patients.

The new Center for Health Innovation will be located on the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego. Collaborators will include the UC San Diego Design Lab, Qualcomm Institute and Jacobs School of Engineering. It is modeled after the University Health Network’s (UHN) Techna Institute, jointly located within the organization’s hospital sites and at the University of Toronto, and has designed numerous products now used in hospitals and clinics.

“Doctors, nurses and medical teams know best where there are existing technology gaps in patient care,” said Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief information officer, UC San Diego Health. “With our proximity to the health and biotech sector as well as the cross-border region, the number of collaborative opportunities are immense.”

To learn more about the Center for Health Innovation, visit healthinnovation.ucsd.edu
Sd Design Trek Ucsd

Design Trek Brings San Diego Design Community Together

This past March, SD Design Trek took students and early-UX career professionals on a three-day showcase of design companies in San Diego to gain a firsthand look at what the local design community has to offer. The March 4 kickoff and showcase took place just down the hall from the Design Lab, in Atkinson Hall’s Auditorium. 

The event commenced with the words of keynote speaker, Amish Desai, who graduated from UCSD in 2003 with a Cognitive Science HCI degree and currently serves as the VP of Experiences at Moonshot. “[The talk] was about being design minded, in terms of design being much more than a craft and is actually a driver for business growth,” he says. “The idea is to instill some lessons I learned in the last 17 years as to why the importance of design is not just beautiful things but is also about doing experiments and making, driving cultural changes, creating experiences, analytics, and having business rigor.”
San Diego Design Week Scripps

San Diego Design Week Celebrates Creativity and Innovation

"Everyone is a designer ... Design is a way of thinking — a way to change things for good."
Don Norman reflects on the evolution and future of design in San Diego in this San Diego Union-Tribune article. San Diego's first Design Week, a milestone event, happened from Sept. 9-13.

(Courtesy photo by Darren Bradley)
Enrique Zavala

Enrique Zavala on Empathy in Design | Design Chats


Enrique Zavala, Research Assistant at UC San Diego, speaks on the importance of being empathetic in design research.

Design Chats is a video series where we sit down with design practitioners to answer questions about how they utilize human-centered design.

View our Design Chats playlist on the Design Lab YouTube Channel
Back To Top