Prof. Larry Leifer, PhD

Rumor has it that Larry arrived at Stanford in time to register for autumn quarter in 1958.  He was fresh off the high school baseball team and still wet from a summer's surfing at the Rincon and related Santa Barbara, CA, wave places.  An engineering design career was vaguely foreshadowed by early experiences with model airplanes, firebombs and his first surfing experiences with a balsa board, maybe 5 guys in the water.  There had to be a better way, so he built his first foam and fiberglass board when there were 10 guys in the water.  By the time he graduated from Stanford he was on his 4th board and a typical Rincon day (see also Steamer's Lane, Santa Cruz) would have upwards of 50 people in the water.  

Things changed. Six months at Stanford in Florence transformed the beach guy into a nascent global academic entrepreneur.  On completing his bioengineering (neuroscience) doctoral thesis at Stanford (private pilot license included (ask Bernie)), he worked for several years in Zurich Switzerland, discovering the country, Europe and the lovely wife who would come to share four children with him.

Open to interpretation, he may be the only guy on the Stanford d.school team who has already lived five or more d.school lives.  With a first generation product design master degree, he subsequently taught in the program on returning to Stanford in 1976.  His experience in bioengineering at Stanford, NASA, and ETH-Zurich is embodied in today's Medical Device Design program.  Conceiving and implementing the Smart-Product-Design Program was a precursor to embedded systems and ubiquitous computing, as we know it today.  His founding of the Stanford-VA Rehabilitation Engineering program is now embodied in the Biomechanics and Bioengineering programs.  As it became increasingly clear that the "Renaissance-Man" of the 21st century would be a "Renaissance-Team," the Center for Design Research at Stanford was born to re-invent design-thinking at the team versus solo level.  Academic credits include: 5+ patents; 20 something book chapters; 30 something hard core journal papers; 250 or so refereed proceedings papers; and 40+ successful Ph.D. advisees.



PI: Professor Larry Leifer Abstract Between an idea and an optimized product, service, or software, the sole means of … > more

Design Loupes

PI: Professor Larry Leifer, Dr. Alexander Zeier Abstract The objective of this exploratory study is to gain a better … > more

Design Loupes

PI: Dr. Alexander Zeier, Professor Larry Leifer Abstract Researchers from the Hasso Plattner Institute and Stanford … > more

What drives Creative Thinking...?

PI: Professor Brian Knutson Abstract Employees’ ability to innovate can decide over the death or survival of … > more

Tangible Business Process Modelling (Stanford)

PI: Professor Larry Leifer Abstract This research is a partnership between researchers at Stanford’s Center for Design … > more


PI: Professor Mark Cutkosky Abstract Distributed design teams face barriers to design thinking that current communication … > more


PI: Larry Leifer Abstract With analyzeD we aim to create and disseminate a design project analyzer that will enable … > more

Re-Representation III

PI: Professor Larry Leifer Abstract Current IT development approaches rely on traditional engineering philosophies and … > more

analyzeD - A Virtual Design Observatory (HPI/CDR)

PI: Dr. Alexander Zeier / Prof. Larry Leifer Abstract With analyzed we are creating a design project analyzer … > more

How Physical Interaction Influences Distributed Design Thinking

PI: Prof. Larry Leifer, PhD Abstract Distributed design teams face barriers to design thinking that current communication … > more

TeamSense: A Modular Measurement and Feedback Platform for Understanding Engineering Design Team Dynamics

PI: Prof. Larry Leifer, PhD Abstract An increasing amount of work takes place in a team context, and there is a need to … > more

Improving Embodied Design Thinking Through Collaborative Improvisation

PI: Prof. Larry J. Leifer Abstract We propose a design generative technique that we call Embodied Design Improvisation, … > more

Design Thinking Health: telepresence for remote teams with mobile augmented reality

PI: Prof. Larry J. Leifer Abstract This research seeks to explore the application of design thinking for improved … > more

Design thinking in health IT systems engineering: the role of wearable mobile computing for distributed care

PI: Prof. Larry Leifer, PhD Abstract This proposed research explores the role of design thinking in the field of health … > more

Crowdpowering Embodied Design Thinking

PI: Prof. Larry Leifer, PhD Abstract We propose a focused research project that looks at how interactions involving … > more

Visual Diagnostics for Design Thinking Teams

PI: Larry Leifer Abstract Our proposed research aims to develop a diagnostic instrument to study design thinking teams … > more