Jen Stein is a Design Researcher who speculates about the near future through Design Fiction, Human-Computer Interaction, Environmental Media, Interactive Architecture, and Storytelling



University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Media Arts+Practice — PhD, 2011

  • Dissertation Title: “PUCK: Place-based, Ubiquitous, Connected and Kinetic Experiences for Interactive Architecture”

Goldsmiths College, University of London, Media and Communications — MA, 2002

  • Thesis Title: “Popular Technoculture: The adoption and appropriation of information communication technology at the intersection of popular culture and the information age”  

Rutgers University, Psychology— BA, 1999



Mobile and Environmental Media Lab, USC School of Cinematic Arts

-Co-director of a university research lab which explores new interfaces, applications, and forms of storytelling for interacting with connected spaces and objects 

-Lead interaction design research projects for sponsored contracts and grants, including for BMW and MINI, Steelcase Inc, and Intel

-Focus on Ambient Storytelling, or how stories can take place in connected and responsive environments, between objects, and in automobiles and cities

-Advise and lead graduate and undergraduate research assistants


Emergent Cities Research Group, USC Arts Research

-Co-founder and principal researcher for an interdisciplinary faculty research group concerning Arts Research and the impact of emerging technologies on cities, from the perspectives of Participatory Urbanism, Public Art, Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, and Storytelling

-Creative producer and interaction designer for 6 Under 60, an interactive installation exploring comparative urbanism between six world cities under sixty years old, including Chandigarh, Brasilia, and Shenzhen, for the the 2011 Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture 

-Creative Producer and researcher for the EMERGE LA mobile application, which is a platform for urban researchers to ask questions of Los Angelenos through a playful mobile application that asks city dwellers to respond each day though the submission of photos, video, or audio recording


Courses taught within the USC School of Cinematic Arts Media Arts + Practice program

Graduate Seminar

Tangible Computing for the Humanities and Sciences — Fall 2014, Fall 2015

-this course explores both the theory and design practice for tangible and ubiquitous computing, in which students design tangible user interfaces using microcontrollers, electronics, and sensors 


Undergraduate Courses

Design Fiction and Speculative Futures — Spring 2015, Spring 2016 

-this course uses design thinking and science fiction to engage students in speculating about the near future and the social, cultural, political, and ethical implications of new technologies

-students use paper prototypes, video, collage, and tangible computing objects to create design fiction projects throughout the semester


Design and Technology for Mobile Experiences — Spring 2012

-this course engages students in both the state of the art for mobile experiences, gaming, and apps, and teaches project-based mobile interaction design 



Watershed Professor of Design Futures UWE Bristol + Watershed Pervasive Media Studio

Conduct research within the Digital Cultures Research Centre; focus on emerging technologies for storytelling and playful experiences in cities; Virtual and Augmented Reality; Design Fiction and Speculative Futures

Research assistant professor, University of southern California — 2013-present

Teach within the USC School of Cinematic Arts Media Arts+Practice program, which is a hybrid theory and practice program focusing on new forms of storytelling and social engagement with emerging media forms and technologies; Co-direct research initiatives within the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab 

Research Associate, University of Southern California — 2007-2013

Conducted research within the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab, focusing on ambient storytelling, lifelogging, human-vehicle interaction, and interactive architecture as both a Graduate Researcher during my doctoral work (2007-2011), and as a Fellow after completing my PhD (2011-2013)

Program manager, University of Southern California — 2002-2007

Managed and helped to establish the newly formed Interactive Media Division (2002) within the USC School of Cinematic Arts; Developed curriculum for both graduate and undergraduate programs; Advised Graduate students and served as Thesis Advisor for many MFA students; Developed and co-authored the curriculum for the Interdivisional Media Arts + Practice Doctoral Program (2007)  

Script coordinator and writers assistant, nickelodeon productions 2000-2001

Worked with writers and executive producers on Nickelodeon hit shows, “All That” and “The Amanda” Show” to assist in the writers room and coordinate daily script revisions for all cast and crew



Stein, J. and Fisher, S. “Ambient Storytelling Experiences and Applications for Interactive Architecture.” IARIA Ambient 2013, Porto, Portugal.

McVeigh-Schultz, J., Stein, J., Boyle, J., et al. Vehicular Lifelogging : New Contexts and Methodologies for Human-Car Interaction. CHI, 2012.

McVeigh-Schultz, J., Stein, J., Boyle, J., et al. Vehicular Lifelogging for Ambient Storytelling and Contextually Rich Play. Position paper for workshop on Car as an Arena for Gaming, MobileHCI, 2012.

McVeigh-Schultz, J., Stein, J., Watson, J., and Fisher, S. Extending the Lifelog to Non-human Subjects : Ambient Storytelling for Human-Object Relationships. ACM Multimedia, 2012, 1205–1208.

Stein, J. and Fisher, S. “Ambient Storytelling: The Million Story Building.” ACM SIGCHI Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction 2011, January 23-26, 2011, Funchal, Portugal.

Fisher, S. and Stein J. “Interactive Architecture: Connecting and Animating the Built Environment with the Internet of Things.”  Workshop presented at Internet of Things 2010 Conference, Tokyo, Japan

Stein, J.  “TerraPed: A Design Concept for Sustainability”,  Pervasive Persuasive Technology and Environmental Sustainability, Pervasive Conference, May 2008.

Fisher, S., Ruston, S., and Stein, J. “Location-Based Mobile Storytelling”, International Journal on Cognitive Informatics and Natural Intelligence, September 2006.

Ruston, S. and Stein, J. “Narrative and Mobile Media”, Media in Transition 4: The Work of Stories(MiT4), MIT, Cambridge, Mass, May 6-8, 2005



Design Fictions :: Imagined Futures — September 20, 2015

Visions and Voices is a USC-sponsored grant award focused on promoting the Arts and Humanities to the USC community. 

-Produced a day-long, hands on workshop in which participants designed objects from the near future


5D Science of Fiction Conference| RilaoProject — October 26, 2014

-Produced and performed Anthropological Cabaret

-Facilitated a conference working group and presented final design fiction artifacts


#techLA: A Technology and Innovation Conference — May 31, 2014

- Invited Panelist, Alternative Realities + Video Games, presenting on City as Platform  


IARIA Ambient 2013, Porto, Portugal October 2013

 -Paper presented on “Ambient Storytelling: Experiences and Applications for Interactive Architecture”


5D Science of Fiction Conference| World Building in Action —  April 13, 2013

-Facilitated the “Architecture” working group and presented final design proposal

HICSS 46 Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences  — January 7, 2013

-Organized and presented an Invited Symposium, "Revisiting Interactive Architecture: 

  From Interdisciplinary Concept to Implementation" 


HICSS 45 Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences  — January 4, 2012

-Organized and presented an Invited Symposium, “Interactive Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Systems for the Built Environment”


5D Science of Fiction | The City and The Book — September 20-21, 2012

-Featured Opening Talk, “Navigating Narrative Spaces”

-Produced overall conference event 


2011 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Shenzhen China — December 2011

-Designed and installed an interactive installation that engaged visit


TEI ’11 International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions — Jan 2011

-Paper presented on “Ambient Storytelling: The Million Story Building” in Funchal, Portugal


IoT 2010: Internet of Things Conference, Tokyo, Japan — November 29, 2010

-Invited presentation on “Interactive Architecture and the Internet of Things”


Awards, Grants and Fellowships

AHRC Follow on Fund - Creative Economy Hub: Creative Healthcare Hub, February 2017

-Awarded a grant to explore the possibilities for creative interventions into Dementia and Aging by bringing together artists, designers, SME's and healthcare providers


USC Visions and Voices Grant, Fall 2015

-Awarded a competitive University grant to host a panel and hands-on workshop, titled Design Fictions::Imagined Futures, to introduce the USC community to creative practices for speculating about possible futures 


USC School of Cinematic Arts Moonshot Grant, Spring 2015

-Awarded a competitive School grant to re-image the curriculum for the School of Cinematic Arts in 2025; engaged the community in a card-based design fiction imagination game to generate possible new courses, research areas, 


USC Research Collaboration Grant, Emergent Cities

-In collaboration with Roski School of Art and Design, School of Architecture and School of Cinematic Arts(2011-2014)


Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Recipient,  University of Southern California(2007-2008 & 2010-11)

Intel PhD Fellowship Recipient, University of Southern California (2009-2010)