AMES, Iowa — Following an internal search, the Iowa State University College of Design has appointed industrial design professor Seda McKilligan to serve as its senior associate dean for academic personnel success and strategic initiatives.

McKilligan had been the associate dean for academic programs in the College of Design since 2018. In this new role as senior associate dean, she will support the college’s seven departments in matters pertaining to academic personnel processes and policies; facilitate faculty and staff professional development; coordinate budgets and budget planning with fiscal staff and college and departmental leadership; support faculty research and scholarly work; lead current and emerging strategic initiatives; support the dean in fundraising efforts; provide continuity in the daily operation of the Dean’s Office and serve as the dean in his absence.

“Professor McKilligan is an internationally recognized scholar who brings a wealth of experience in research, teaching and academic administration to this position in support of faculty and staff advancement and success,” said College of Design Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez.

“Her far-reaching strategic vision for the future of design education will help us build on our current successes. I’m pleased to continue working with her in this new capacity to find and explore innovative uncharted academic territories.”

McKilligan joined the Iowa State faculty as an assistant professor in 2010 in the newly established Department of Industrial Design. She was promoted to associate professor in 2015 and to professor in 2019. She served as interim industrial design department chair from 2019–2021.

She served as the associate dean for academic programs in the College of Design from 2018–2023 and from 2015–2019 served as the site co-director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for e-Design at Iowa State. She is an affiliated faculty member of the human computer interaction graduate program.

McKilligan’s teaching focuses on developing creative potential and design thinking skills. She researches design approaches and ideation, design ethnography, creative processes and cross-disciplinary design team dynamics. She often collaborates across disciplines, working with scholars in engineering, education, psychology and various design fields.

She has led multiple cross-university NSF-funded research projects and served as a faculty associate in others. In these externally funded research projects, she focused on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers; developing evidence-based research and instructional materials for design problem and solution spaces; structuring train-the-trainer protocols and implementation pathways; and bringing design thinking into various contexts, including pedagogical shifts in K-12 and higher education institutions and engineering process in manufacturing firms.

McKilligan is the author of more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings. She frequently serves on review, advisory and scientific boards of journals and conferences. Since 2019 she has served as an associate editor of the international Design Science journal.

McKilligan holds a bachelor of industrial design from Middle East Technical University, Turkey, and a master of fine arts in industrial design and doctorate in design science, both from the University of Michigan.


Luis Rico-Gutierrez, Dean, College of Design, 515-294-7427,
Heather Sauer, Director of Strategic Communications, College of Design,