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Global Innovation Design (MA/MSc)

Sarah Selkirk Dodge

Sarah Dodge is a designer, researcher, and generalist whose work aims to transform current human practices and systems towards a regenerative future. Through ethnographic and systems-level research, her strengths lie in uncovering rich insights into complex problems. Much of her work aims to accelerate the circular economy as she believes in a future where we no longer extract from nature, but rather collaborate with it. 


Prior to enrolling at the RCA/Imperial College, Sarah worked for over five years as a multidisciplinary designer and researcher in the built environment, working across the development stages from visioning to construction management and mitigation. Curious by nature, she has also worked in outdoor education and biochemical research. Her passion for the environment, interest in sustainability and desire to use design for social and environmental impact became the catalyst for change that led to her pursuing her master's in Global Innovation Design at the RCA/Imperial College. 

Sarah is originally from Boulder, Colorado and holds a B.A. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Studio Art & Art History from Lewis & Clark College.

Features & Highlights

Upcoming, Pop Up Exhibition (The Data Box), National Science Museum of Thailand, Bangkok

2023, American Heritage, Pratt Institute Showcase, Brooklyn, NY

2022, 'Designing for Digital Thriving,' IDEO x Riot Games, Finalist

2021, 'The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music', LADdesign x CCA Design Futures Lab x Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

2021, Design for Safety with Viyu, RCA Grand Challenge Finalist

Previously: Murdock Research Scholar, Phi Betta Kappa Society Selected Member

Profile Picture

As a designer, I find inspiration in the transformative capacity design has to impact people, their relationships, and our environment positively. The complex and urgent challenges the future poses are opportunities to rethink our current practices, widen our perspectives, build resilience and adaptability, and collaborate towards a better tomorrow. 

Over the past few years, my work and process have dramatically changed as my biases and ignorance have been challenged. I’ve come to understand design as not only a means to address complex problems, but, even more often as a means to communicate these issues in more tangible ways or to wider audiences. While my approach has shifted towards taking a systems-level approach and continuously asking why, I still find curiosity and passion for a better future to help me navigate through complex problems. 

RCA Showcase

In the RCA2023 show I’ve selected a few sneak peeks of projects from my time at the RCA:

  • Circular Care is an exploratory strategic design kit that aims to provide visual information and insights to enable medical professionals to learn, collaborate, brainstorm, and implement strategies for reducing and recovering medical waste.
  • Viyu is a charitable product-service-system that aims to empower people in Delhi facing severe air pollution.
  • The Data Box is a content-agnostic interactive and portable pop-up exhibition for science communication.
  • Aquavent is a response to both the growing water stress and increasing temperatures in urban areas.

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat please reach out! Additional works can be found here.

Circular Care, Banner Image
Poster GIF, Circular Care
Ethnographic Research, Circular Care
Launch URL, Circular Care
Launch Project

Climate change is society's most significant health threat, affecting our healthcare systems worldwide [1]. However, the healthcare sector also contributes significantly to climate change, with estimates showing that even before the pandemic, it generated 4.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and produced nearly 5.9 billion tonnes of waste annually [2],[3]. Within the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) contributes 6.3% to the UK's total carbon emissions [2] and  produces more than 156,000 tonnes of waste currently disposed of through high-temperature incineration or alternative treatment, while only 5% is recycled [4].

Circular Careis an exploratory strategic design kit that aims to provide visual information and insights to enable medical professionals to learn, collaborate, brainstorm, and implement strategies for accelerating the healthcare into the circular economy and reducing medical waste generation in the United Kingdom (UK). Through an in-depth exploratory investigation of current operating theatre practices and estate medical waste generation, this project investigated various strategies (and barriers) for the medical industry to significantly reduce waste generation and improve recycling and recovery of medical waste. 

The outcome of this design research is multifaceted and can be explored in greater detail here.

 Banner Image, VIYU
System Overview, Viyu
Sensor Overview, Viyu
UI Design, Viyu

Air pollution accounted for nearly 1.7million premature deaths in India in 2019, or 18% of all deaths, increasing from 1.24million in 2017. In consulting with residents of Delhi and NGO's advocating for cleaner air, we found that on 15 of 36 have a monitoring system for key air pollutants, most of which are PM2.5. Where air pollution data is available, people don't often understand the cause of the pollution or trust that the government is providing them with real information.

Viyu is a response to these complex problems surrounding air pollution in Delhi. It is a charitable product-service-system that aims to make air pollution awareness viral by enabling people to collect and engagingly share their own hyper-localised data. 

It consists of an open-source, low-cost, and portable air pollution sensor that users can integrate into their commute and daily life. The monitor constantly tracks the concentration of PM2.5 air pollutants and syncs this data with an app providing hyper-localised data of their air exposure. Unique visual and audio representations of the data are used to provide 1. an easy understanding of risk and 2. compelling graphics that can be shared on social networks as a call to action.

Banner Image, The Data Box
User Journey Animation, The Data Box
Content Agnostic Question Framework Animation, The Data Box
User Interaction Journey Diagram

Designed with the National Science Museum of Thailand, The Data Box is a content-agnostic interactive and portable exhibition for science communication. Using data visualisation and playful, embodied interactions the pop-up exhibition is built off a system framework that allows the visitor to contextualise themselves within a specific, given topic. Museum staff can easily adapt the pop-up exhibition to any exhibition topic and produce meaningful data for the visitors by following the content-agnostic question framework.

In finding that data has become the primary output of modern scientific research, and that people are beginning to encounter data more and more in their everyday lives, The Data Box was conceptualised as a way to create an adaptable exhibition that also increases data literacy. Furthermore, studies have shown that people are more likely to understand more and engage with data for longer when embodied interactions are employed and a personal connection to the data is established (Alhakamy, 2021). 

For more information including an academic report on the interaction design proposal, please reach out.

Aquavent Banner
Architectural Illustration, Aquavent
Actions, Aquavent
Installation, Aquavent

Recently, major cities across the world have struggled to adapt quickly to climate change. Cities such as London are facing unprecedented changes in precipitation and temperature, resulting in water shortages, energy blackouts, and heat waves.

In response to these interdependent challenges, we developed Aquavent, an adaptable rainwater harvesting and passive cooling system for urban areas that aims to reduce stress on water and energy systems while providing comfort for people.

Aquavent consists of three primary components - a hydrophobic rainwater harvesting screen (RWS), a water storage system, and a hydrophilic passive cooling screen (PCS) - that can be deployed on the exterior of buildings at windows or freestanding in public spaces. The RWS is folded in an origami fold, allowing it to be expanded and rotated when it rains to maximise the personal water catchment area. The rainwater collected is then usable for flushing the toilet, watering plants, cleaning, and passive cooling. When it is not raining, the RWS can serve as a sun shade or be compacted away. On a hot day, the PCS takes from ancient techniques and utilises capillary action and porous natural materials to cool warm air passing through the screen through evaporative cooling.

Additional Work, Color Theory
Additional Work, Biomaterials
Additional Work, UX Design
Additional Work, Physical Computing