RIGO Award


The recipient of this year’s RIGO Award is Dr. Patricia Sullivan.

A CMU graduate, Dr. Sullivan has spent the majority of her career at Purdue University, where she currently serves as the director of graduate programs. She is also the senior scholar for the newly formed Women in Tech Comm mentoring group. Her work is in professional writing and pedagogy has been central to the development of the field. Many of her former students (and students’ students) are major contributors to SIGDOC, taking her teachings into our conference and CDQ.

“Four years before Nielsen’s Usability Engineering was published and about the same time that Donald Norman was writing The Design of Everyday Things, Pat Sullivan wrote “Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing,” an article that provides – yet today – a blueprint for the vibrant, multidisciplinary area of work we have since come to call User Experience (UX). Pat was among the first writers to frame UX as an endeavor grounded in inquiry, in research, and she named a variety of possible uses to which the results of that inquiry could be put. She also made space within this emerging area for technical communicators to play a central role. The enduring concept Pat gave to our field was the way UX research could be a means to know our audience in a detailed, concrete way. It is this idea, precisely, that has proven to define the broad trajectory of UX as new technologies and methods have evolved. And it is this same challenge – to know our users – that defines the most significant challenges that lay ahead.”

 —Bill Hart-Davidson, Michigan State University

About the Award

The Rigo Award is named after Joseph Rigo, the founder of SIGDOC. The award celebrates an individual’s lifetime contribution to the field of communication design. Nominations for the Rigo Award are considered carefully by the SIGDOC Executive Board (elected and appointed members), and the final recipients are determined in a series of run-off votes. Winners are recognized at the conference.