top of page

Gabriela T.

Richard, Ph.D.





I am a researcher, designer and educator of learning technologies, media, games and play. I am currently an Associate Professor of Learning, Media and Technology and Math, Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to that, I was an Assistant then Associate Professor at Penn State, and I was a Postdoctoral Fellow through a competitive program sponsored by the Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania and affiliated with the Center for Collaboration, Computation, Complexity, and Creativity in the Learning Sciences. I received my Ph.D. from New York University in Educational Communication and Technology, and my master's degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where I designed interactive and embodied systems.

I've received funding from the National Science Foundation, Spencer / the National Academy of Education, and the American Association of University Women, as well as a Belfer Fellowship from the ADL for my research and outreach.

I conduct research on the ways that diverse youth and adults engage in learning, collaboration, identity formation, and self-efficacy in formal, informal and interest-driven STEM, focusing specifically on computing and tech, gaming, livestreaming, and maker spaces. In particular, I explore ways that technologies can be culturally-situated and inclusive, and employ intersectionality as a frame for understanding complex sociocultural relationships across gender, race / ethnicity, culture, sexuality and dis/ability in media and design. I am also a lifelong gamer, and I enjoy playing and pondering how that play shapes learning and understanding of culture and society. 

Prior to starting my doctoral degree, I worked for several years as an interactive instructional designer. I also designed tangible interfaces, and explored their relationship to social experience, understanding and empathy. Additionally, I started an outreach project in 2004 teaching physical computing (now thought of as maker education) to diverse students and teachers in New York City public middle and high schools. I also have contributed to research and design internationally, including at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, where I worked on projects on tangible and augmented technologies, as well as digital games.​​


I coordinate and run the Playful Learning and Inclusive Design Research Group where graduate and undergraduate students conduct research on on gaming and making and their relationship to cognition, collaboration, sociocultural learning, creativity and computational participation. In addition to exploring opportunities for playful learning, we also investigate barriers to participation, and ways that equitable, accessible and culturally-situated approaches inform inclusive learning design. We engage in qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods studies and have utilized participant and field observation, design-based research, semi-structured interviews, surveys, quantitative outcome measures, and artifact analysis in our research designs.

I am currently recruiting new students interested in working on our projects in my new role at UMass Amherst!

Past Team Members Include:

Graduate Students:

R. William Ashley, Rebecca Bayeck, Lillyanna Faimon, Sagun Giri, Zachary McKinley, Chris Reeves, JooYoung Seo, Nakisha Whittington

Undergraduate Students:

Victoria Meagher, Samuel Peterson, Alex Chen


research & projects

Current Projects:

Inclusive learning through designing integrated systems (Bidirectionally Responsive Design)

In 2014, I designed a curriculum that combined multiple digital and physical toolkits so that youth could create personally-meaningful projects and artifacts with digital and physical responsiveness. Through a multi-year, design-based research and implementation project, the curriculum has gone through several iterations with different tools, materials and modes of instruction with diverse urban and rural K-12 learners. I’ve been leading research on how both the diverse toolkits and the learning activities reinforce collaboration, distribution of interests and inclusive and accessible learning.



 teaching & outreach


get in touch

Thank you! I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 contact me

bottom of page