Haptics · Human-Computer Interaction · Multimodality · sonification · Thesis defense

Recently attended Emma Frid’s thesis defense at KTH!


On Friday, January 10, I attended Emma Frid’s thesis defense at KTH. Emma and I collaborated in a research project a few years ago, and one of the major outcomes was this open access article presenting the results of an experiment with a multimodal interface including both haptic feedback and two different sonification models. Emma’s thesis work relates heavily to the research field of Sound and Music Computing (also the name of a sub-group at the department of Media technology and Interaction Design at KTH where I worked for more than a decade), and focuses specifically on (accessible) digital music instruments and interfaces. The main research question is “How can music interfaces be designed for inclusion?”. The thesis “Diverse Sounds – Enabling Inclusive Sonic Interaction” can be found here. The main supervisor was professor Roberto Bresin and co-supervisor was professor Eva-Lotta Sallnäs Pysander. Both of them work at the department of Media technology and Interaction Design at KTH. The opponent was Reader Andrew McPherson from the school of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London. The examination committee consisted of senior researcher Elaine Chew from the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Music Representations Team at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music, professor Rolf Inge Godøy from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion at University of Oslo, associate professor Dan Overholt from the department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology at Aalborg University and professor Henrik Frisk from the department of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory at Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

After the introduction by associate professor Madeline Balaam, who chaired the event, the opponent held a presentation about Emma’s thesis for about 45 minutes. It was a very good presentation and it was interesting to listen to his interpretation of the work performed. He concluded his presentation by discussing the nine properties that according to Emma should be considered when designing accessible digital music instruments; expressiveness, playability, longevity, customizability, pleasure, sonic quality, robustness, multimodality and causality (see the thesis for a thorough coverage of these properties and the work that gave rise to them). After a short break the opponent, and later on the members of the committee, asked question that formed a good foundation for interesting discussions about the thesis work.

I think Emma did a really good job answering the questions and discussing her work. She elaborated a lot on the themes that were brought up to discussion and it was very clear that she knows a lot about this research field. She was also calm during the entire process and even helped out when the opponent and committee members e.g. needed headsets and/or microphones. One thing that was special about this defense is that the opponent, as well as all members of the grading committee, began their round of questions by congratulating Emma on the excellent job that she has performed! I have not seen that during other defenses I have attended. The defense was rounded off by a very long applaud – it was almost as if the audience expected some kind of extra performance on stage.  🙂

DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online · Thesis defense

My colleague Hanife Rexhepi just received a prize for her doctoral thesis!


In May 2018 I went to the University of Skövde to attend Hanife Rexhepi’s thesis defense. As I wrote in this blog post she did an excellent job during this event and I also thought that the doctoral thesis was of a very high quality. I concluded that blog post with this overall assessment of the event:

During my time at KTH (more than a decade) I was responsible for courses in communication and research rhetorics, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that it is very unusual to come across someone with such a good set of communication skills (including both written and verbal communication). I’m really happy that I was able to come to Skövde and experience this in real life!

Now it turns out that Hanife received a prize from Skaraborgs akademi for her doctoral thesis! Each year Skaraborgs akademi awards an outstanding doctoral thesis (must be written by a research student at the University of Skövde). This year the faculty board, who decides about the award, gave this motivation:

The doctoral thesis shows new insights and research results in its field of research and is expected to add new knowledge and contribute to the development of the subject area both nationally and internationally.

You can read more in this article (in Swedish). And you can find the outstanding thesis here.


Congratulations Hanife! Very well-deserved!

DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online · Thesis defense

Recently attended Christiane Grünloh’s excellent thesis defense at KTH!


Last Friday, I spent the entire day at KTH for a DOME consortium meeting in the morning (will get back to that in a separate post) and Christiane Grünloh’s thesis defense in the afternoon. Christiane’s thesis work has focused on patient accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs) in Sweden, and how healthcare professionals and patients have received and are affected by the system. The thesis, “Harmful or Empowering? Stakeholders’ Expectations and Experiences of Patient Accessible Electronic Health Records” can be found here. This was an extra interesting defense for me since some of the work that is included in the thesis and was discussed during the defense, is based on the national patient survey study which I’m leading and have written about several times on this blog! One of the included papers – an overview of the results – was actually published last Thursday! The main supervisor was professor Jan Gulliksen from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at KTH. The co-supervisors were professor Åsa Cajander from our HTO group at the IT department at Uppsala University, associate professor emeritus Åke Walldius from the same department as Jan Gulliksen and professor Gerhard Hartmann from the Institute of Informatics at TH Köln University of Applied Sciences. The opponent was associate professor David Hendry from the Information School at the University of Washington. The examination committee consisted of professor Geraldine Fitzpatrick from the Institute of Visual Computing and Human-Centered Technology at TU Wien, professor Gunnar Ellingsen from the department of Clinical Medicine at University of Tromsø, and professor Sabine Koch from the Health Informatics Centre at Karolinska Institutet.

After a short introduction by the chairman professor Henrik Artman, the opponent held a presentation about Christiane’s thesis for about 45 minutes. This was by far the best opponent presentation I have heard! David really managed to pinpoint the core foundations on which the thesis work was built and he had even drawn his own charts showing the different stakeholders and how PAEHRs had come to change the interaction between them. He was very well prepared and clear about all parts of the thesis. He, as well as the members of the examination committee, also asked good questions that formed the foundation for really interesting discussions about choices made, theoretical foundations, methods and results.

Christiane really did an excellent job answering questions from the opponent and the examination committee members. She was super calm and structured and answered every question thoroughly and several times during the discussion with the opponent I really felt like she was the one in charge! I’m certainly not the only one who felt that Christiane did an excellent job – both the opponent and the examination committee members commented on that after the defense and several colleagues that I talked to felt the same thing. The meeting between supervisors, the opponent and the members of the examination committee, which was held right after the defense was very short. Geraldine, who presented the obvious result that Christiane passed the defense, said that they couldn’t really find anything that was wrong or could have been done better – they could only discuss good points!

DOME · eHealth · Medical Records Online · Thesis defense

Recently attended Hanife Rexhepi’s brilliant defense!


Three days ago, on Tuesday 22/5, I attended Hanife Rexhepi’s thesis defense in Skövde. We are both researchers within the DOME consortium and we currently collaborate in several large follow-up studies on patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden. I arrived in Skövde a few hours before the defense and left the following day, after a very nice informal dinner.

Hanife’s thesis, which you can find here, builds a lot on the shared decision making process and the practice of evidence based medicine, and focuses on how information systems can be redesigned to facilitate communication between healthcare professionals and patients as well as access to knowledge for both patients and healthcare professionals (prerequisites for shared decision making and the practice of evidence based medicine) during the patient process. The work builds, primarily, on three case studies that include observations and interviews with healthcare professionals and patients. Through her work Hanife has been able to pinpoint several challenges, related to lack of information access (especially related to tacit knowledge) and support for shared decision making, for both healthcare professionals and patients. The work has led to, among other things, several guidelines for how to facilitate the shared decision making process as well as the practice of evidence based medicine, through supporting information systems, in an integrated manner throughout the care process. This is my short summary, but you can also hear Hanife’s own summary in the short interview (in Swedish) presented here.

Hanife did an excellent job during all parts of the defense! Before the defense, she was given the choice to either present the thesis herself or let the opponent do it. Since she chose to do it herself, the first 45 minutes were devoted to Hanife’s very professional presentation of her thesis work. I really enjoyed listening to it – the presentation was clearly structured and she really managed to use the outcome of the many projects she has been involved in to draw attention to important problems. She showed great confidence and she wasn’t afraid to use humor, at appropriate occasions, to make her points.

After the presentation, Hanife discussed her thesis work with the opponent, professor Peter Bath. I must say the she did an exceptionally good job during this part of the defense process! I have been to numerous defenses during my years in research and I have never before seen a doctoral student handling this discussion with such confidence and calmness. The opponent’s questions were really well thought-out and Hanife always had good answers and really took her time explore the questions in-depth. Sometimes she even drove the discussion. It was really a pleasure to listen to the discussion part of this defense!

After a little more than an hour’s discussion, the grading committee asked a few questions and Hanife also handled this part with ease. The same goes for the questions from the audience.

During my time at KTH (more than a decade) I was responsible for courses in communication and research rhetorics, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that it is very unusual to come across someone with such a good set of communication skills (including both written and verbal communication). I’m really happy that I was able to come to Skövde and experience this in real life!

Social media in higher education · Thesis defense

My colleague, Pernilla Josefsson, successfully defended her thesis today!


Today I spent the entire afternoon at KTH, attending Pernilla Josefsson’s thesis defense and afterwards joining a dinner. Pernilla has focused on the use of social media in higher education, and more specifically students’ use. The thesis, “Higher education meets private use of social media technologies – an explorative study of student’s use” can be found here. As always, it is interesting to attend colleagues’ defenses, but this one was quite special for me since some of the work Pernilla and I have been collaborating on, related to the use of Twitter in higher education courses, was included in the thesis and discussed during the defense session. The main supervisor was professor Stefan Hrastinski from the School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (KTH) and the co-supervisors were associate professors Olle Bälter and Daniel Pargman from the School of Computer Science and Communication (KTH). The opponent was professor Grainne Conole from University of Leicester.

After a rather short introduction by the opponent, the discussion between Grainne and Pernilla took place. This discussion was really interesting to follow and touched on many different aspects such as the connection between roles and activities on social networks (in this case Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter), the reason for selecting this particular research topic and of course the choice of platforms. One thing that the opponent highlighted was that she could really “feel” Pernilla’s passion for the work when reading the thesis and this was also something that the grading committee brought up. This says a lot about the quality of the work performed and about Pernilla as a researcher. I also particularly liked the discussion about the reasons for choosing this particular research topic – the reasons were grounded in her practice as a teacher and discussions with students as well as teachers.

When it came to answering questions, Pernilla did a very good job during the entire session. She really gave clear and well thought through answers and was calm during the entire session. She was not afraid to take pauses and think things through before responding. At one point the opponent asked a rather tricky question about how the concept of affordances was used (difficult to answer without a clear context). Before answering Pernilla defined an example context, which is of course a very good way of handling the situation. The grading committee also complimented the very “thought through and structured answers”.

When it comes to the study Pernilla and I collaborated on I will write more on this blog when it is published. That will probably happen during this spring. The study on Twitter is not the only thing we have been collaborating on. This week we are e.g. submitting a chapter to a book about the use of social media in educational settings and we also have the ongoing study about the use of teacher administrated Facebook groups introduced here.

Thesis defense

My colleague, Thomas Lind, successfully defended his thesis today!

During the afternoon today I attended Thomas Lind‘s thesis defense. We have shared office ever since I started working at Uppsala University and this of course adds another dimension to my experience of the event. The main supervisor was Åsa Cajander and the co-supervisors were Marta Larusdottir and Bengt Sandblad. We all belong to the HTO (Health Technology & Organisation) research group. 

The opponent was Netta Iivari from University of Oulu and the grading committee consisted of Olle Bälter from KTH, José Abdelnour Nocera from University of West London and Tone Bratteteig from University of Oslo. The chair was our HCI professor Mats Lind

As always the opponent started out by presenting the thesis and putting it in context. Netta was very good at doing this and she really managed to add new dimensions to the work. After the presentation the discussion between Netta and Thomas took place. I must say that Thomas handled this situation very well – he was calm and collected and always took his time to think before he answered! The same goes for the interaction with the grading committee members. I will not go into any details about the specific topics covered, since I know another blog post about the defense will show up at our group blog quite soon. That post will surely include pictures from the defense itself. 

Before I close this post I just want to highlight the very special cake, shown in the image above. As I understand it this masterpiece was home made. The top of it is actually a cake version of Thomas’ thesis!