• Center for Design

Sara Colombo

Associate Research Scientist

Sara is an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Design (CAMD), Northeastern University, where she works on human-centered design, emerging technologies, and the impact of tech on humans.
She holds a PhD in Design and a Master’s degree in Design&Engineering.

Before joining Northeastern, Sara was senior research associate and project lead at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Design Lab, where she was also lecturer in experience and interaction design.
At MIT, Sara led projects on designing future user experiences enabled by emerging technologies. She adopted design fiction and experience prototyping as an approach to envision and communicate future solutions enabled by cutting-edge technologies and focused on human experiences.
Her current research is focused on the impact emerging technologies have on users when embedded in everyday objects, and their consequences on human experience and behaviors at the individual and societal levels.


  • Postdoctoral Associate, Design Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ph.D, Design, Politecnico di Milano

Research/Publications Highlights

During her PhD, Sara explored the human sensory, cognitive, and emotional experience of connected, intelligent and dynamic artifacts. In particular, she investigated and designed new tangible and sensory forms of communication performed by dynamic objects. During her work at the MIT Design Lab, Sara led teams of designers, computer scientists, and engineers in making extensive use of tangible prototypes and video storytelling as proof-of-concepts of the future realities they envisioned.

She has published widely on these topics through journal articles, conference papers, and books and has co-chaired international conferences in the field of interaction design. She has served as a reviewer and board member for conferences and journals in the areas of user experience, interaction design, and HCI. She holds two patents on interactive devices for children’s health and wellbeing. These solutions are based on the outcome of her doctoral studies on sensory and emotional communication.
She has been invited lecturer and speaker in educational courses and professional workshops at MIT and at other institutions worldwide, such as Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), Xi’an Jiaotong University (Xi’an, China), and Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy). In 2018, she was invited to visit Victoria University of Wellington under the Fulbright New Zealand program.
Prior to Northeastern, Sara was a lecturer in interaction and experience design at MIT (CMS/W), and an adjunct professor in design&engineering and interaction design at Politecnico di Milano. She served as both supervisor and external examiner of graduate and undergraduate students at MIT, Politecnico di Milano, and Victoria University of Wellington.