Sarah Webber

Research Fellow

Interaction Design Lab
School of Computing & Information Systems
Melbourne School of Engineering

I am a researcher at the University of Melbourne in the Interaction Design Lab.

Research Interests

  • Animal-computer interaction
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Digital technologies in zoos
  • Digital technologies for animal conservation and welfare
  • Digital technologies for social connectedness and wellbeing

My primary research area targets the design of scientifically-informed technologies for animals, with a focus on wildlife conservation and animal welfare. Most of my research is conducted in the zoo setting. My PhD thesis examined the design of an interactive installation for orangutans, and its effects on zoo visitors' perceptions of the animals. I seek to create innovative interactive devices which are relevant to animals' needs, by integrating design thinking techniques with methods and knowledge from the animal sciences.

My secondary strand of research focuses on digital technologies for social connectedness, identity and wellbeing, encompassing projects for enrichment in old age, for young people in out-of-home care, and for people quitting smoking.

I hold a MSc in Information Systems, and have a professional IT background spanning user research, UX evaluation, business analysis and project management in corporate, non-profit and governmental organisations.

Selected Publications

For complete list of publications see my Google Scholar profile or Find an Expert profile

Conference Papers

Best Paper Award Best Paper Award at CHI 2017

  • Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Sally Sherwen, Wally Smith, Zaher Joukhader, Frank Vetere. Kinecting with Orangutans: Zoo Visitors’ Empathetic Responses to Animals’ Use of Interactive Technology. 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2017.
    [DOI:10.1145/3025453.3025729] [Free Access]

Honorable MentionHonorable Mention at CHI 2017

  • Wally Smith, Bernd Ploderer, Greg Wadley, Sarah Webber and Ron Borland. Trajectories of Engagement and Disengagement with a Story-Based Smoking Cessation App. 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2017.
    [DOI:10.1145/3025453.3026054] [Free Access]

Journal Paper

  • Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Wally Smith, and Frank Vetere.Interactive Technology and Human-Animal Encounters at the Zoo International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 2017
    [DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2016.05.003] [Free Access]


Lecturing and Subject Coordination

  • ISYS90051 Impacts of Digitisation with Martin Gibbs and Melissa Rogerson. University of Melbourne, 2016-2018.
  • GRAP2221 Design Studio: Digital Practice, HCI-mobile with Scott Mitchell. RMIT, 2017


  • INFO30008 Interactive Technology Project. University of Melbourne, 2019
  • ISYS90051 Impacts of Digitisation. University of Melbourne, 2015.

Awards & Achievements

  • PhD Completion 2019. Both examiners awarded a Pass Without Changes and nominated my thesis for the Chancellor's Prize for Excellence.
  • Research Engagement and Impact Award, The University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Awarded to research teams who have achieved outstanding research results through external engagement or have had a significant impact on the world beyond the walls of the University (with Dr Marcus Carter).
  • Google PhD Fellowship 2017. One of four Australian PhD students recognised by Google for 'outstanding efforts' and 'significant academic achievements'.
  • Best Paper Award, CHI 2017. Awarded to top 1% of papers accepted for presentation at ACM SIGCHI conference (acceptance rate: 25%)
  • Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholar, Asia-Pacific, 2015. The Anita Borg Scholarship Program encourages women to excel in computing.
  • Master Major Innovator Award, awarded by Microsoft Australia & Australian Computer Society for the Best Overall Contribution at Computing and Information Systems Doctoral Colloquium, 2016.
  • Falling Walls Lab, Canberra 2016. Selected to participate in the first Falling Walls Lab Australia, presenting my PhD research to a distinguished panel of international scientists at the Australian Academy of Science.
  • Finalist: 3 Minute Thesis Contest, University of Melbourne 2016.