Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Reflections on Being a Resilient Researcher


What does mobility research look like today? In the highly mediated world we’ve all become used to operating in—spending hours on end in video conference meetings, assessing trends and practices by way of social media analysis—what does it mean to be human-centered researchers and designers in the age of remote work? And how do we, as researchers, reflect on and draw from previous jobs and research that shape us most today?
In this session, researchers of the Waymo Insights Team will open their (often remote) coffee break room and reflect on the notion of resilience for their professional and personal selves. We want to pause and reflect together on our role, roots, and challenges as researchers—and invite EPIC attendees to join us.


Jasmine Low is an anthropologist and UX researcher on the Waymo Insights Team, where she works closely with rider communities to understand what is meaningful to them as everyday users of Waymo’s autonomous ride hailing service. Ethnographic in approach, she regularly comes back to the question, “Whose perspective is missing?” to deliver insights and human stories that shape strategy and design across teams at Waymo.


Melissa Cefkin is a member of the Waymo Insights Team where she focuses especially on autonomous driving systems’ interactions with people in the world and on the roads. She has played many roles at EPIC, and has a long career as an anthropologist in industry, including having worked at Nissan-Renault, IBM, Sapient and the Institute for Research on Learning.

Benedikt Fischer is a Strategist & User Experience Researcher at Waymo where he is leading the company’s research efforts around trucking. Benedikt specialises in using anthropological methods to inform product features, strategies, and concept designs. Before joining Waymo, Benedikt worked as a strategy consultant at ReD Associates in Copenhagen and New York where he led strategy projects with clients across the mobility, pharmaceutical, luxury, and consumer goods industries.


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