NYU Tandon Industry Assistant Professor Reginé Gilbert, who teaches in the school’s Integrated Design & Media (IDM) program, has been appointed by NYU Interim Provost Gigi Dopico and Vice Provost Charlton McIlwain as a James Weldon Johnson Professor.
The professorship was established in 2020 to recognize NYU faculty whose scholarship has the most far-reaching impact or potential impact in the areas of social justice, inequality, criminal justice reform, and related topics. The honor is named for NYU’s first Black professor, James Weldon Johnson, a civil rights activist who was executive secretary of the NAACP and one of the leading figures in the development of the Harlem Renaissance. The honor provides $25,000 per year for three years in research support while the named title continues for the duration of the faculty member’s career at NYU.
Gilbert–an in-demand presenter at such events as the International User Experience Professional Association conference and the Design and Diversity conference–is well-known for her 2019 book, Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Designing with Accessibility in Mind, a comprehensive volume that explores the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, best practices for web development, and more. In 2023, Oxford University Press will release her next book, Human Spatial Computing, which she co-authored with Doug North Cook and which focuses on the human aspects of extended reality.
“We now hear a lot of buzz about the metaverse, but if augmented and virtual reality technology is going to be adopted widely, it must have practical uses beyond games and must be accessible to all, including the disabled,” Gilbert, who recently developed a class in human spatial computing, says. “Technology has, overall, increased connection, information equality, and cross-cultural competence around the world, and if we want to keep that trajectory going, now’s the time to make access and usability of new tech a priority. I encourage my students to imagine a utopian future in which extended reality technologies are used to address social justice, sustainability, and mental health issues, and think about how we can reach that future.” In an exercise meant to expand their imaginations and deepen their empathy, Gilbert’s graduate students recently worked with an undergraduate art and technology class taught by Professor Andres Leon Geyer in Peru for a cross-cultural exchange of advice through art in Mozilla Hubs (WebVR).
"We're thrilled with Reginé Gilbert's appointment as a James Weldon Johnson Professor,” says IDM Co-Director Scott Fitzgerald. “Her work is an extraordinarily valuable contribution towards ethical, just, and human-centered technology and engineering practice. It is a great honor to work with someone who does so much good for society through inclusive design."
“Reginé’s emerging-media research and teaching speak directly to Tandon’s mission of helping to make the world a more accessible, equitable place through the power of technology,” Dean Jelena Kovačević says. “I congratulate her on this well-deserved honor and believe that James Weldon Johnson would be proud to have his name connected to her work.”
About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences as part of a global university, with close connections to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. NYU Tandon is rooted in a vibrant tradition of entrepreneurship, intellectual curiosity, and innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing global challenges. Research at Tandon focuses on vital intersections between communications/IT, cybersecurity, and data science/AI/robotics systems and tools and critical areas of society that they influence, including emerging media, health, sustainability, and urban living. We believe diversity is integral to excellence, and are creating a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable environment for all of our students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit engineering.nyu.edu