Dr Roser Pujadas is a Lecturer in Digital Innovation at UCL STEaPP.
How long have you been at STEaPP? What does your role involve?
I joined STEaPP in June 2023 as a Lecturer in Digital Innovation. My role mainly involves conducting research and teaching.
As part of the Digital Technologies Policy Laboratory at STEaPP, I conduct research with colleagues from various UK and European universities on digital platforms, digital infrastructures and digital interfaces, and related issues such as algorithmic governance, the development of inter-organisational networked systems, or the embeddedness of AI in digital infrastructures. I have disseminated this research in academic publications and conferences. Currently, I am applying for research funding, to lead a research project to further investigate these topics, and thereby inform policy.
My role also involves teaching. I am currently designing two new courses that I will lead from next academic year: an MPA module on “Digital Rights”, and the BSc module “Innovation: from Technological to Social and Public”. This academic year, I am leading and co-teaching a non-assessed Digital Rights seminar series, and I am co-teaching with Dr Irina Brass the MPA module “Emerging Dilemmas in Digital Technology Policy”. I will also contribute as a cohort lead to the BSc module “How to Change the World”.
In addition, I am supervising an MPA Group Project addressing the policy implications of online Dark Patterns and Deceptive design, in partnership with Superbloom Design and the World Wide Web Foundation. I am co-supervising the PhD of David Xu on social media governance, and I am advising new applicants.
What drew you to STEaPP and UCL?
UCL is a top university, which performs exceedingly well in international university rankings, attracts excellent academics and students, and embraces the vision to make a positive impact on society. I was particularly attracted by UCL’s and STEaPP’s intellectual openness. At STEaPP, I feel part of a heterogeneous, multidisciplinary group of people who come together with a shared commitment to effect positive social change. I feel that STEaPP is the right place for me to develop my intellectual curiosity, and to pursue my work across disciplinary boundaries, exploring how knowledge and technology are entangled with the transformation of society. I also appreciate the collegial atmosphere that I have experienced so far at STEaPP, and the dedication to education and to ensuring that students have an enriching experience. I am inspired by how my colleagues at STEaPP contribute not only to research and education, but also inform policy.
How does your research feed into your teaching (and vice versa)?
On the one hand, my empirical research on digital technology provides me with an in-depth understanding of some current developments and uses of technology that I can share with my students. In addition, the theories and literature that I have reviewed over the years as part of my research on the imbrication of technology, economy, governance, organisational structures, and innovation inform my teaching.
On the other hand, teaching requires providing an overview of broad topics, which go beyond your area of expertise. Therefore, in developing and teaching new modules, I am reading additional academic literature, some of which is inspiring and will inform my research. Furthermore, the constant presentation and discussion of ideas with students helps develop new ideas that can further inform research. Supervision is another important source of intellectual inspiration, which feeds in both directions (supervisor-supervisee).
What inspires you?
Academically, I am inspired by critical thinking and by how different conceptualisations allow us to uncover new dimensions. I am inspired by work that can pose new, relevant questions. More practically, I find inspiring working collaboratively and discussing ideas with colleagues, and teaching engaged and inquiring students.
I am also inspired by those who, from a range of positions (civil society, journalists, academics, policymakers, etc.), contribute to a better society.
At a more personal level, I am inspired by the beauty of nature and of artistic expression. I am inspired by creative work (particularly films, dance, theatre, and literature) that challenges received canons to express ideas or emotions.
What achievements are you most proud of?
First, I am proud of my recent academic appointment at UCL. I am also proud of my achievements during my time at the LSE. I was awarded both an MSc in New Media, Information & Society, and a PhD in Information Systems. As a GTA and Fellow, I taught and led a range of undergraduate and graduate courses at the LSE, and supervised 20 MSc dissertations, and I am particularly proud of the positive feedback I received from my students, in addition to the teaching awards I received.
As a postdoctoral researcher at the LSE, I delivered high impact research. For instance, I was an investigator with Prof Whitley (PI) and a team of research officers on a project commissioned by the Financial Services Consumer Panel. This informed policy on the privacy implications of Open Banking, and we received an Impact Award from the Association of Information Systems. In addition, the research that I conducted as part of the IRIS project on the API economy with my colleagues Dr Valderrama and Dr Venters has recently been published in the high-impact journal Research Policy: Pujadas, R., Valderrama, E., Venters, W. (2024) The value and structuring role of web APIs in digital innovation ecosystems: The case of the online travel ecosystem. Research Policy, 53(2). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2023.104931
Who influenced you?
I have been influenced by a wide range of people. My parents, close family, and schoolteachers instilled strong social and communitarian values in me, and a love for learning and critical inquiry. Intellectually, I have been particularly influenced by feminist thought, postructuralism, new materialism and Science and Technology Studies (STS). A lecture by Prof. Manuel Castells on the network society that I attended when I was just finishing my undergraduate studies struck a chord with me, and triggered my fascination in the agentic role of digital technology, and how it shapes all sort of aspects of our society.
If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to follow a different path.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
Follow your curiosity, be critical, and keep learning. Enjoy the ride!
What three words would you use to describe STEaPP?
Open, multidisciplinary, collegial.