Portrait of Abigail Sellen

Abigail Sellen

Distinguished Scientist and Deputy Lab Director


Abigail Sellen is Distinguished Scientist and Deputy Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge in the UK.   

She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an International Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and in 2021 was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. She is also a Fellow of the ACM and a member of theACM SigCHI Academy.  Abigail holds honorary professorships in Computer Science at Lancaster University and UCLIC, University College London. 

At Microsoft Research, Abigail oversees research exploring the Future of Work, taking an interdisciplinary approach to designing and developing new productivity technologies that work in partnership with people.  This approach recognizes that as we experience radical transformations in the world of work, it is more critical than ever to keep human aspirations front and centre in the systems we build.  

Abigail joined Microsoft in June 2004 from Hewlett Packard Labs, Bristol. She spent 6 years at HP researching many different kinds of topics ranging from appliance design to Web use to mobile technologies. Prior to HP, she spent 7 years at Xerox’s research lab in Cambridge UK (EuroPARC), was cross-appointed to the MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, and was a Research Fellow at Darwin College, University of Cambridge. Before moving to England, she also worked for other corporate IT labs such as Xerox PARC, Apple Computer, and Bell Northern Research. 

Abigail has a doctorate in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego where she was supervised by Don Norman. She also has an M.A.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto. She spent some formative years as a post doc working with Bill Buxton, Ron Baecker and Marilyn Tremaine at the Computer Science Research Institute at U of Toronto. Her other main academic influence was her stepfather, the late, great John Senders, one of the pioneers of Human Factors Engineering. 

Abigail has published on many topics including: healthcare, computer input, help systems, reading, paper use in offices, videoconferencing design, search, photo use, gesture-based input, human error and computer support for human memory. This includes two books, “Video-Mediated Communication” and “The Myth of the Paperless Office” (with co-author Richard Harper), which won an IEEE award for distinguished literary contribution to engineering. She is an inventor with over 50 patents pending or granted.