Design Welcomes New PhD Researchers - Luis Garcia and Saurin Nanavanti


Starting in the Fall semester of 2022, the School of Design is thrilled to welcome two new PhD Researchers to our Doctoral Program - Luis Garcia and Saurin Nanavanti. The addition of these new PhD Researchers brings the total enrolled in the School of Design's PhD Program to 22, the largest cohort in the history of the program.

Luis Garcia

Luis is currently a Teaching Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design. He is an Ecuadorian designer interested in the intersection of design and the public sector. He seeks to understand how designers could be better prepared to engage in Latin American public sector processes and support the development of contextually appropriate solutions.

He has worked for the Ecuadorian Corporation for the Development of Research and Academia (CEDIA) and the German Cooperation Agency GIZ, supporting two open innovation processes focused on sustainable urban mobility with national reach. In 2019, he was part of a multidisciplinary team that monitored and proposed solutions for a new public bike-sharing system in Cuenca, Ecuador. Lately, he has been part of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) through the Research Jam program. The program collaborates with community members, patients, care providers, and other researchers using people-centered design research to improve health research, services, and quality of life.

As a Fulbright scholar, Luis studied an MFA focused on Design Research and Strategy from Indiana University and has a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Cuenca. While an undergraduate student, Luis was part of the university Honors Program, coordinated in collaboration with the Belgian University of Leuven, a multidisciplinary initiative that offered students dedicated training in scientific research approaches and methods.

Research interests include:

  • The designer's role in Latin American Public Sector Innovation Labs
  • Systems thinking
  • Participatory design and co-production for urban transformations
  • Latin American communities' response to systemic neglect from the state

Saurin Nanavanti

Saurin built his career working with farming communities in tropical agriculture supply chains (coffee, cocoa, cotton, banana). He spent 20 years working in rural areas, learning about the crops, cultures and land use, in order to develop projects that improve farmer access to markets, finance and information. Through this work he founded Ethos Agriculture (, a design firm dedicated to co-designing initiatives with rural communities through trade, research and development.

Saurin feels it is vital for rural communities to have agency in the design of initiatives and supply chains to ensure the protection of their environments, people and values. Saurin's research interests include:

  • examining the relevant (collective) conditions needed to transform rural communities into centers of innovation
  • exploring the intersection of agroforestry, conservation and ecosystem services
  • understanding the importance of biocultural identity, traditional ecological knowledge and spirituality in the promotion of sustainable landscape programs

The School of Design wholeheartedly welcomes Luis and Saurin and we can't wait to see what the bring to our community.

More info at the PhD in Transition Design >>

Meet our other PhD Researchers >>

Date Published: 
Thursday, September 1, 2022
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