Current Team Members

Franziska Schroeder

Franziska is the Queen’s University lead for the “Performance Without Barriers” Project. She is a saxophonist, theorist, and a Professor of Music and Cultures at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, School of Arts, English and Languages. She is a Fellow of the HEA (Higher Education Academy in the UK) and a member of the UK’s AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) peer review college (as chair and reviewer) . She is a registered expert for the EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and reviewer for the Portuguese Research Grant Authority (FCT). Franziska was awarded her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2006, and has since written for many international journals, including Leonardo, Organised Sound, Performance Research, Cambridge Publishing and Routledge. She has published a book on performance and the threshold, an edited volume on user-generated content and in 2014 a book on improvisation entitled “Soundweaving”.

Michelle McCormack

Michelle is founder and CEO of The Drake Music Project Northern Ireland, a charity that provides access to independent music making for children and adults with complex disabilities. The charity that has been operating for 25 years provides workshops in composition and performance skills through adapted computer interfacing technology, in order that physical and cognitive ability is matched to an appropriate gestural interface, allowing people with disabilities the opportunity to express their creativity in an independent and controllable environment.

Alex Lucas

Alex is a Product Designer turned academic who specialises in designing music technology hardware interfaces. Commercial products designed by Alex include the Novation Peak polyphonic synthesiser and Circuit Mono Station sequenced monosynth. Alex has a passion for intuitive user experience and aspires to improve the accessibility of music technology interfaces.  He is now the post-doctoral lead on the AHRC project “Bridging the Gap”.  Alex has a passion for intuitive user experience and aspires to improve the accessibility of music technology interfaces. Alex completed an MSc in Creative and Computation Sound at the University of Portsmouth in 2007. In 2017 Alex relocated to Belfast to take up a prestigious AHRC NPIF (National Productivity Investment Fund) PhD studentship to join the Performance Without Barriers Team.

Damian Mills

Damian joined our research group in October 2020. He is funded by a competitive PhD scholarship, a Collaborative Studentship Award (CAST), funded by the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland. Damian is drummer, who has become recognised as a leading developer of cutting-edge percussion performance, specialising in carnival drumming. He has extensive experience in scoring and teaching music for small- and large-scale percussion ensembles, and always seeks to integrate new sounds and new ideas into the heart of Northern Irish drumming.  He has been working with Drake Music NI for many years and will join our research team to to identify improved ways in which digital technologies, esp. immersive, augmented and virtual reality technologies can afford better inclusion of disabled musicians in music making.

Leonid Kuzmenko

Leo has received the highly competitive CITI-GENS PhD studentship to join our team in February 2021. Leo is a Russian composer / sound designer and a virtual reality enthusiast. He premiered his first experimental opera at NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center in Spring 2017. He collaborated with NYU Abu Dhabi Music and Sound Cultures research group as a developer on a couple of projects, creating innovative browsing strategies for large collections of music using VR. He also held an Audio Director position at the largest VR company in the UAE, Mental Images, working with clients in both the public and private sector.

James Cunningham

James joined the team in October 2021 on a prestigious Queen’s University Faculty match-funded PhD scholarship to work on the AHRC project “Bridging the Gap”. James is a partially sighted musician from Portadown, Northern Ireland. He completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Queen’s University Belfast, with a focus on contemporary classical composition. He has had pieces premiered in both Belfast and London, and he also has experience in improvisation with clarinet and piano. His current Guide Dog Bart goes everywehere with him, and is no doubt fed up with all the weird and wonderful noises he is regularly subjected to.

Juanita Rea

Juanita is an industry specialist with twenty-one years of international experience in Education, Social Development and Mental Health who joined our group in 2022 as a Queen’s University Visiting Scholar. Originally from South Africa, she holds a Global Talent Visa endorsement from Arts Council England for her work in the Combined and Participatory Arts. She completed a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration through the University of Nicosia in 2019; is an Arts Council Northern Ireland awardee; and eduSOIL, the non-profit she founded, holds a Future Screens NI Artwork award. Juanita enables access to inclusive, culturally diverse and trauma-informed platforms through the intersection of interdisciplinary arts practiceparticipatory arts, youth leadership and technological innovation.

Miguel Ortiz

Miguel is a Mexican composer, sound artist, and Lecturer of Design and Prototyping at Queen’s University Belfast. His work focuses on the use of sensing technologies for creative applications, specifically Digital Instrument Design and its intersection with Composition and Improvisation. Dr Ortiz has performed using traditional acoustic instruments, laptop improvisations, bio-instruments and hyperinstruments.

John D’Arcy

John is a Lecturer in Digital Media at Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.  His research involves interactive media and live performance.  Recent projects include ‘Laganside’, a locative media poetry experience at Belfast’s River Lagan; and ‘Raise Your Expectations’, a walking VR experience addressing urban redevelopment in Belfast.

Past Team Members

Christian Cherene

Christian is a co-founder of BeAnotherLab, an interdisciplinary multinational group dedicated to understanding, communicating and expanding subjective experience; focusing on understanding the relationship between identity and empathy from an embodied perspective. The team has backgrounds in Cognitive Sciences and Psychology, Interactive Systems Design, Digital Arts, Computer Sciences, Social Communication, Anthropology, Cultural Management, Philosophy and Conflict Resolution. Christian has been working as part of our research group since 2017, contributing expertise in immersive interaction research & development, design and implementation of VR instruments.

Matilde Meireles

Matilde is a recordist, sound artist, and researcher who makes use of field recordings to compose site oriented projects. Her works have been exhibited in Brazil, Germany, Greece, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, and United Kingdom. Her research and work examines the role of design and photography in expanding sound art practices, in particular field recording and its use in the construction of multi-sensorial experiences. They take an holistic and interdisciplinary approach to site. It also further explores how the term site is used to refer not only to the physical site, but also the contextual, the experiential, and the virtual site. The projects often highlight participation and collaboration as catalysts for a shared understanding of place, and the role of technology in augmenting the experience of place.

Koichi Samuels

Koichi is a music researcher and electronic musician. He began as a PhD student with our team, and continued as a postdoctoral fellow, funded by an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship, where he conducted research into music technology, accessibility and inclusive music. His research interests include electronic music, digital media, social inclusion, and social research approaches to study music technology practices. Koichi is also a creative practitioner who has released and performed music for international events and record labels as well as founding his own record label and multidisciplinary digital arts event called RESIST based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Karen Rafferty

Karen is the Head of the School of Electronic, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast.  She has over fifteen years experience working within the fields of software engineering, sensor fusion and real time software development and she has over ten years experience working within the areas of virtual and augmented reality and multi sensorial systems.  During her research career she has acted as PI or co-Investigator on several national and European funded grants.  She is also actively engaged with external professional bodies.  She is a professional registration interviewer for the IET and has been and continues to act as an expert evaluator, recorder and Vice Chair for various calls in H2020, FP7 and FP6.   She has authored over 75 publications and two books, one on virtual reality and one on engineering innovation.