Dr Shichao Zhao

Dr Shichao Zhao


I am an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in product design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX) design. I am also a traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher with exhibited work. 

After completion of my B.A. in Fine Art and an M.Eng. in Interactive Media Design at Zhejiang University, I continued my academic career at Newcastle University to study a Ph.D. in HCI at the Open Lab. My doctoral research (in partnership with the Shanghai Theatre Academy) explored the design of interactive technologies to support the cultural appreciation and experience of an important class of Intangible Cultural Heritage. I designed a practical method of deconstructing elements from performances (dialect and gestures), and then created a foundational framework to assist non-Chinese communities better understand the cultural significance of these components.
Since 2020, I started a Postdoctoral Researcher position in Digital Archaeology and Heritage at Bournemouth University. My role was to contribute to exploring potential collaborative research opportunities and grants in different subjects and with multiple departments. 

Currently, I am a Research Fellow in Participatory Research Communication Design in the School of Design at the University of Leeds. I utilise participatory action research (PAR) as the main method to explore the use of interactivity to reach out to different audiences and demonstrate how art-based projects tackle societal challenges through online exhibitions in a Horizon 2020 research project titled ‘Acting on the Margins: Arts as Social Sculpture (AMASS)’. Furthermore, I am currently exploring how technology might be used to enhance the cross-cultural experience in the city of Suzhou with the Government of Jiangsu Province, China and the University of Bath.

Research interests

My work demonstrated the potential for digital technology to enhance cross-cultural appreciation of, and engagement with cultural heritage. I have continued to pursue these themes, most recently using novel mobile and gesture-based interactive technology installations to capture non-verbal emotion and storytelling from the act of producing painting and calligraphy. 

Supported by the theoretical framework of Research through Design (RtD), my research mainly explored user experiences by designing and developing mobile and gestural capturing interactive installations. I also have a real affinity for research methodologies that allows me to understand people’s experiences either as part of a design or an evaluation process. My design research always takes place with stakeholders and potential viewers. My approach is informed by the ethnographic and ethnomethodological traditions. I use a variety of methods such as co-design and participatory design, culture probes, role playing and mind-mapping alongside more traditional ethnographic methods such as observations, video recordings, interviews and focus groups. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Ph.D. in Human Computer Interaction, Newcastle University
  • M.Eng. in Interactive Media Design, Zhejiang University
  • B.A. in Fine Arts, Zhejiang University