Ann McDonald

Ann McDonald

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Ann McDonald is an Associate Professor of Design at Northeastern University. Her current work investigates traces of human activity in the built environment through close observation of physical communications and workarounds created ad-hoc by inhabitants of various environments offering clues about existing conditions and cultures.

She investigates the role of the diagram and visual notational systems to document and  synthesize experience and to speculate, envision, and create future experiences through the  design of frameworks that anticipate participation and improvisation.

She studied at the Institute of Design in Chicago, earned a BFA in Design from the University of  Washington in Seattle, received an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University, and continued  post-graduate studies in the Master of Environmental Design program at the Yale School of  Architecture.

Her ongoing research and project-based inquiries investigate the potential for increased  engagement, meaningful correlation, and learning offered by dynamic information systems. Exhibit and interactive design work for The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The New England  Aquarium, The National Health Sciences Consortium, and the American Society of Plant  Biology have offered broad audiences access to complex topics. She was a lead investigator  for the Sticks + Stones Project, a collaborative exchange examining labeling and stereotyping,  which won a Core 77 Design Education Initiatives Design Award.

She was a principal investigator for No2NOx, using participatory design methods with middle  school students in science classrooms to identify better choices for a better planet, which won  a MacArthur Foundation-funded Digital Media Learning Lab Award. She was also a co-founder  of Advisestream, a comprehensive academic advising and holistic student planning platform,  now part of Civitas Learning.

Early in her professional career, she worked as a designer at NBBJ, architecture and planning  in Seattle WA, Daroff Design, interior architectural design and Cloud & Gehshan Associates,  environmental, place branding and wayfinding design in Philadelphia PA, and Jeff Kennedy  Associates, museum planning and exhibit design in Somerville MA. 

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