Professor Mitchell Whitelaw

PhD (UTS), Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons) (Wollongong)
Associate Professor, Design, School of Art
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Digital And Interaction Design 120304
  • Interactive Media 190205
  • Data Visualisation And Computational (Incl. Parametric And Generative) Design 330301

Research interests

My research spans practice and theory in the fields of digital design and culture; I work with data and computation as core materials in a creative research practice. I work with partners and collaborators on applied, practice-led research with public outcomes. My theoretical work draws on and contextualises this practice, as well as investigating emerging concepts and forms in digital art and design. Current themes in my research are:

Redesigning Biodiversity Data

The living world is increasingly recorded and represented as data. Citizen science, smartphone apps and web platforms mean that broad publics are increasingly creating and exploring biodiversity data, and using it as a way to engage with the living environment. I am interested in how biodiversity data is visualised and represented, and how our interactions with it are designed. Through collaborations with partners such as the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, I am exploring richer forms of visualisation, exploration, engagement and storytelling with biodiversity data.

Design for Digital Heritage and Humanities

The digitisation of cultural heritage is creating vast masses of valuable content, but traditional search-based interfaces do a poor job of representing this richness. Working with institutional partners, academic collaborators and students, I develop “generous interfaces”, working with cultural data to create inviting, explorable websites for cultural collections. I also develop speculative and poetic applications for digital heritage, reimagining and reanimating these archives for a contemporary context. Since 2010 this work has been funded by partners including the Asia Art Archive, Canberra Museum and Gallery, the State Library of Queensland, the State Library of New South Wales, the State Library of Victoria, the National Archives of Australia, and the National Gallery of Australia.


Researcher's projects

Funded Research Projects

“Murrumbidgee Wetlands Audio Visualisation Pilot.” Contracted reserarch for Charles Sturt University / Commonwealth Environmental Water office, 2021. M. Whitelaw, A. Mackenzie. Value $19420. Outcome: 

“Unreal Engine and site-specific augmented reality using natural markers.” Epic Games Mega Grant, 2020. B. Pailthorpe,  M. Whitelaw, A. Raupach, G. Hinchcliffe. Value $50,000 USD.

“Transforming the early modern archive: the Emmerson Collection at SLV.” ARC Linkage project LP180100704. Whitelaw is CI 4. Value $247,000

“MyClimate 2050.” Contracted research for Australian Conservation Foundation, 2019. With Geoff Hinchcliffe. Value $43,000. See 

“Corley Explorer.” Contracted research for State Library of Queensland, 2018. With Geoff Hinchcliffe. Value $60,000. See  

“Heritage of the Air: How aviation transformed Australia.” ARC Linkage project LP160101232, commencing 2018. Administered by University of Canberra; Whitelaw is CI 7. Value $440,000.

"Visualising a Bibliography of Indian Art." Contracted research for Asia Art Archive, 2015. Value $9,000. See

“Tangible Data Representation for the Power of One Exhibition.” Contracted research for Museum of Australian Democracy, 2014. Value $10,000.

“Discover the Queenslander.” Contracted research for State Library of Queensland, 2013. Value $20,000. See



Available student projects

I am seeking Honours, Resarch Masters and PhD students to work on practice-led projects across all my areas of research interest. Students may come from backgrounds including art, design, digital media, computer science, information technology, information science and cultural heritage. 


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers