We are seeking a PhD student to work with Dr. Colin Gray at Purdue University on a new project funded by the National Science Foundation (#1909714). In this project, we are building upon our prior NSF-funded work on “dark patterns” and UX design, investigating the ethical implications of socio-technical practice, leading to the creation of methods that increase practitioners’ ethical awareness and action. We plan to investigate the role of ethics in socio-technical practice communities (e.g., UX, data science, project and product management) and online design and technology-focused communities, leading to a clearer description of the ethical complexity that practitioners face. This project will extend current understandings of ethics in HCI using a pragmatist ethics lens, documenting considerations that socio-technical practitioners make as part of their everyday work. The PhD student will receive systematic training in human computer interaction research, be exposed to a wide diversity of research interests in the Computer Graphics Technology department, gain deep understanding of UX design and critical research approaches, and have opportunities to network with both researchers and practitioners in a range of academic communities.

This position is expected to begin in Summer 2020 or Fall 2020. Three years of funding will be guaranteed, subject to yearly performance reviews. Other funding opportunities, such as research or teaching assistantships, will be available beyond the three-year funding period. The student would be expected to apply and be accepted as a student within the PhD in Technology, affiliated with the Computer Graphics Technology department (https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/degrees/phd-technology).

Research Lab

Dr. Colin Gray leads the UXP2 research lab, a research group that focuses on user experience (UX) design pedagogy and practice at Purdue University. He is appointed in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute as an assistant professor in Computer Graphics Technology, and is the program lead for an undergraduate major and graduate concentration in UX Design. Previously, the lab has identified characteristics of UX competency relevant for practice and described the nature of the research/practice gap in HCI. Currently, the group is engaged in several projects that build our collective understanding of UX knowledge, practitioner identity, and the development of expertise. The lab output includes research that is highly interdisciplinary, spanning work across human-computer interaction, engineering and technology education, instructional design and technology, and design theory and education.


Interested applicants should have a research interest in user experience design, HCI, critical theory, ethics, or related topics. No specific prior research training is necessary, but documented ability in conducting ethnographic observations or interviews, and performing qualitative analysis is beneficial. In addition, an academic and/or professional background in design, philosophy, or ethics would add substantial value to the research team. An ideal candidate should possess professional skills such as effective time management, the ability to work collaboratively in inter/trans-disciplinary environments, and excellent communication skills (verbal, written, visual).

To express interest in this position, please email Dr. Colin Gray at gray42@purdue.edu with the subject line “Everyday Ethics PhD Position.” In this email, attach a statement that describes your relevant experience and research goals in relation to the proposed project and a current resume or CV. Applications will be reviewed as they are received, until a candidate is chosen.