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Dr Katrina Petersen

Formerly at Lancaster University

Katrina Petersen

Research overview

Katrina Petersen received her PhD in 2014 from University of California, San Diego in Communication and Science Studies. Her research explores the socio-technical work of engaging difference by examining how environmental values and disaster risks are bound to social and scientific interactions with technology. She focuses on the collaborative production of visual representations, data sets, and engineering ontologies that form the basis for sharing information between diverse and distributed actors. As participatory practices, like crowd-sourced mapping, are increasingly part of disaster response and environmental activism, understanding the creative work behind making and sharing the visually representations and data sets used to describe the environment and disasters and the implications of such practices is necessary in order to produce new ways of knowing risk that facilitate mutual respect, understanding, social change, or controversy. Understanding, for example, the complex practices involved in transforming two data sets of different resolutions and frequencies so they can be catalogued for database integration or become a line on a GIS map, supports more than just an awareness of difference but also actions necessary for care and contestation. I draw on science and technology studies, communication and media studies, visual studies, computer supported collaborative work, and critical geography. 

In the course of her research, she has worked closely with the communities whose practices she is researching. This has included working as a volunteer disaster mapper and government liaison intern for the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross. It has also involved collaborative design work with computer engineers, security experts, and disaster responders throughout Europe.

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