School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Sara Heitlinger

Research Associate in Participatory Design


My research interests include participatory design local digital democracy. Before joining Open Lab I was a Researcher Co-Investigator on Connected Seeds and Sensors, an 18 month EPSRC-funded Research in the Wild – Internet of Things (IoT) project based at Queen Mary University of London, where I investigated co-designing digital technologies with urban agricultural communities to support more sustainable food consumption and production in the city. Through the development of a Connected Seeds Library the project combined smart sensors, data collection, and Participatory Design to raise awareness, empower communities and increase participation in sustainable urban food practices. Connected Seeds and Sensors grew out of my PhD work, which I completed at the Media and Arts Technology Doctoral Training Centre at QMUL.

By incorporating playful interactions, personal stories, and participatory design, my work aims to expand the design space of sustainable smart cities and Internet of Things (IoT) beyond traditional managerial and utilitarian approaches. My research interests are in sustainability, smart cities, nonanthropocentric design, participatory design, and community engagement.