Elizabeth Gerber

Elizabeth Gerber

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Junior Professor of Design

2133 Sheridan Road

Ford 2-327

Evanston, IL 60208-3109

(847) 467-0607
egerber( at )northwestern.edu


Ph.D. Management Science & Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

M.S. Product Design, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

B.A. Art and Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Research Interests

To sustain and enhance innovation in our country, we need leaders who can routinely innovate solutions to complex, ill-defined problems. I study and design collective intelligence systems to support innovation.

Practically, I draw from my professional experience as a designer, social scientist, and manager. Theoretically, I draw from her academic training in social psychology, organizational behavior, design, and social computing.

As the Breed Junior Chair of Design at Northwestern University, Faculty Founder of Design for America, and OpEd Fellow, I write about human computer interaction, design, and innovation.

My current research focuses on understanding collective intelligence systems that support problem solving, decision making, and social impact.   This work brings a unique perspective of contemporary practices such as crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, brainstorming, and prototyping, etc. – and provides a strong foundation for designing engaging social environments that promote innovation and leadership.

I received my doctoral and master’s degrees in Management Science and Engineering and Product Design from Stanford, my bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, and have worked professionally as a designer.

To support my mission of amplifying innovation in our country, I am actively designing a new national collaborative innovation initiative called Design for America. Design for America students and mentors tackle local innovation projects with social impact.  Design for America has been featured in Fast Company, Oprah, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Chicago Tribune. Currently, Design for America has 2000 members in its network.

Prior to Design for America, I helped to develop the business and design initiative at the Stanford d.school.

I teach Design Thinking and Communication, and Human Centered Design, and Communication Design at the Segal Design Institute in the McCormick School of Engineering and in the School of Communication at Northwestern University.

Significant Professional Service

  • Adviser, Design for America

In the Classroom

Professor Gerber's teaching interests include design, innovation management, and organizational behavior. At Northwestern she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on product and service design which emphasizes the design thinking methodology - a human centered problem solving approach focused on gaining inspiration from human needs, working in diverse groups to generate ideas, and prototyping ideas for rapid feedback. She also advises students in the award winning design initiative she founded called Design for America where students take on extracurricular design work to make social and local impact.

Selected Publications

  • Gerber, Elizabeth; Dow, Steven; Wong, Audris, “A pilot study of using crowds in the classroom”, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings, (2013)
  • Kittur, Aniket; Nickerson, Jeffrey V.; Bernstein, Michael S.; Gerber, Elizabeth M.; Shaw, Aaron, “The future of crowd work”, Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW, (2013)
  • Gerber, Elizabeth; Carroll, Maureen, “The psychological experience of prototyping”, Design Studies, (2012)
  • Dontcheva, M.; Gerber, E.; Morris, R., “Priming for Better Performance in Micro-Task Crowdsourcing Environments”, , (2012)
  • E. M. Gerber and C. K. Martin, “Supporting Creativity Within Web-based Self-services”, International Journal of Design, (2012)
  • E. M. Gerber, J. M. Olson and R. L. D. Komarek, “Extracurricular Design-Based Learning: Preparing Students for Careers in Innovation”, International Journal of Engineering Education, (2012)
  • P. M. Leonardi, T. B. Neeley and E. M. Gerber, “How Managers Use Multiple Media: Discrepant Events, Power, and Timing in Redundant Communication”, Organization Science, (2012)
  • Gerber, E.; Carroll, M., “The psychological experience of prototyping”, Design Studies, (2011)
  • Gerber, E.; Lewis, S.; Dontcheva, M., “Affective computational priming and creativity”, Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems, (2011)
  • P Bao, E Gerber, D Gergle, D Hoffman, “Momentum: getting and staying on topic during a brainstorm”, Proceedings of the 28th ..., (2010)
  • E GERBER;S GREENBERG;SE HUDSON;et al., “Using Improvisation to Enhance the Effectiveness of Brainstorming”, 27th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, (2009)

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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