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DRS elects new Chairs

DRS elects new Chairs

The International Advisory Council has elected its new Chairs.  

Professor Rebecca Cain from Loughborough University, in the UK, is the new DRS Chair and Chair of the DRS Executive Board.  

Dr Anna Vallgårda from the IT University of Copenhagen has been elected as the new Chair of the DRS International Advisory Council.

Rebecca Cain has a record of long service with the DRS, having been a council member since 2009, when she held the role of Honorary Secretary.  She was one of the leading members in transitioning the society to the new, international governance structure that exists today, and for the last two years has held the role of the Vice-Chair of the DRS Executive Board. 

Rebecca founded SIGWELL, the DRS Special Interest group on Wellbeing, Happiness and Health, and co-chaired the DRS2020 Conference.  In her time as Vice-Chair, Rebecca has been active in community building, through mobilising the creation of new SIGs and co-produced the experimental online conference format – the DRS Festival of Emergence, in 2021.

In her other roles, Rebecca is a Professor of Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University, where she also holds the role of Associate Dean. She is Director of a Transdisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre, which is using a cohort approach to creatively rethink experiences of home and homelessness. She is also active within the UK Research Funding Councils, is a member of the Learning Committee at the Design Museum in London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA). 

Upon her election to DRS Chair, Rebecca said “It is truly an honour to serve the Design Research Community as the new Chair of DRS.  The DRS has been a central part of my academic life for over thirteen years, and over that time, it has been hugely rewarding to be part of the growth and transformation of the society into the international body it is today”.  

On future plans, she added. “Over the next two years, I look forward to working with our new Executive Board and International Advisory Council to build a diverse and inclusive society which serves the global design research community and furthers the field of design research.  In the challenging times we live in, there has never been a more pressing need for design disciplines to come together as a collective force to make change.  I am passionate about building communities across disciplines,  working in partnership and supporting the next generation of design researchers.”

Anna Vallgårda, the incoming Chair of the International Advisory Council has been an active member of the DRS Executive Board for the last two years, and has been a leading figure in the operationalisation of the DRS’ new Digital Library. The goal is that the DRS Digital Library becomes the primary repository for all design research related publications. For instance, last year we were happy to include the entire back-catalogue of the Nordic design conference series NORDES. While Anna steps down from the Executive board she will continue in the working group devoted to develop the library towards its goal. 

In her other roles, Anna is Associate Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen and head of the IxD lab which she founded in 2012. Anna conducts research in the intersection of materials, interaction design, and domestic healthcare. 

Upon her election to Chair of the IAC, Anna said  “I am looking forward to working with our expanded International Advisory Council over the next two years. I especially look forward to developing a culture around working groups within the council to support the tasks of the executive board and thus activate the impressive variety of knowledge and experience the council covers. This, I believe, will strengthen the global relevance of the DRS.

President of the DRS, Professor Rachel Cooper added “ I am extremely happy to be working with Rebecca and Anna who have already given significant time and expertise to the Society. It has been a pleasure to work with Peter Lloyd who has been a driver of change for the good. Paul Hekkert has led the development of the International Advisory Council to a sound and significant position, I thank them both for their past contributions and I look forward to further transformations of the Society led by Rebecca and Anna.”


Anna and Rebecca alongside Rachel Cooper, representing the new DRS leadership.