Sociologist of technology, ensuring that technology works for older people.
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
Barbara is a sociologist of technology, studying the links between digital and social inequalities. She bridges social and computer sciences, specialising in ageing and participatory research – this means that older people are involved in research as partners, rather than as ‘subjects’. She co-designs and co-tests emerging technologies with/for older people, from robotic companions to Virtual Reality (VR), to ensure new technologies include later life.
She is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Monash University, and the 2019 Jacques Leclercq Chair in Digital Technology & Society at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain), Belgium. Barbara is also an elected board member at the International Sociological Association, Committee on Family Research (ISA-RC06).
Prior to moving to Australia, Barbara was Associate Director and Researcher at the ‘Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab’ (TAGlab), University of Toronto, Computer Science Department, Canada. She believes that if we want new technology to be inclusive, social scientists have to be directly involved in its design and evaluation.
Her work has been published in top-tier journals in Sociology and Computer Science, and has been awarded in Japan, Europe, Australia, and North America. She has co-edited a book that brings together, for the first time, social and computer scientists designing and testing new technologies for/with older people: “Ageing and Digital Technology” (Springer, 2019). Furthermore, her research has been used to improve the design of technologies for older people as well as to inform care practices and social policy.
Current projects look at loneliness and social isolation in later life, and explore how technology can help create more opportunities for social connection among diverse groups of older Australians.
Barbara has been named by the ABC and the University of Sydney among the Top Five Humanities and Social Sciences Scholars in Australia for a media residency (2019).