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Lesley-Ann Noel, PhD


Lesley-Ann has a BA in Industrial Design from the Universidade Federal do Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil. She has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her PhD in Design from North Carolina State University in 2018.

Lesley-Ann practices design through emancipatory, critical and anti-hegemonic lenses,  focusing on equity, social justice and the experiences of people who are often excluded from design research. Her research also highlights the work of designers outside of Europe and North America as an act of decolonizing design. She also attempts to promote greater critical awareness among designers and design students by introducing critical theory concepts and vocabulary into the design studio e.g. through The Designer’s Critical Alphabet.

Lesley-Ann’s research interests are emancipatory research centered around the perspectives of those who would traditionally be excluded from research, community-led research, design-based learning and design thinking. She practices primarily in the area of social innovation, education and public health. She is co-Chair of the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group of the Design Research Society.

Current Research

Co-Investigator: Grounding Health Research in Design Thinking for Equitable Engagement to Address COVID19 (GRID ENGAGEMENT) – Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI):

Recent Publications

  • Noel, L.A, & Paiva, M. (2021). Learning to recognize exclusion. Journal of Usability Studies, 16(2), 63–72
  • Noel, L., Liu, T. L., & Rider, T. R. (2021). Developing Thinking Skills in a 4th Grade Design Studio in Trinidad and Tobago. In Neimann, T., Felix, J. J., Reeves, S., & Shliakhovchuk, E. (Ed.), Stagnancy Issues and Change Initiatives for Global Education in the Digital Age (pp. 15-39). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-4993-3.ch002
  • Noel, L. (2020) Envisioning a pluriversal design education, in Leitão, R., Noel, L. and Murphy, L. (eds.), Pivot 2020: Designing a World of Many Centers – DRS Pluriversal Design SIG Conference, 4 June, held online.
  • Noel, L. (2020, November 17). A Designer Teaches People How to See Others Who Are Not Like Them. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from
  • Noel, L. M. (2020, October 23). Terms of Service: October Edition. Retrieved November 10, 2020, from

Personal Website


BA Industrial Design Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil

MBA University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago

PhD in Design North Carolina State University 2018