B Altringer

B Altringer

  • Senior Preceptor in Innovation and Design
  • Director, Desirability Lab


Dr. Altringer is Founder-Director of the Desirability Lab and faculty at the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Graduate School of Design. In 2016, she was recognized by The Harvard Crimson as one of the university’s top 15 professors. She helped develop and is on the core faculty of Harvard's new joint engineering MS/MBA degree program that aims to train future technical founders, CEOs, Chief Technology Officers, and Chief Design Officers.

The Desirability Lab uses design and behavioral science research to help innovators embed desirable experiences into the products and services they create. In addition to working with creators, she develops educational content to help consumers identify and resist unwanted persuasive design. Dr. Altringer also runs a longitudinal research program to improve design and engineering curricula. During her PhD work at Cambridge University (studying success and failure on IDEO and Fortune 100 company innovation projects) and postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, she developed an integrated approach to teaching creative, technical, interpersonal, and project management decision-making skills that can reduce the risk of avoidable project failure. Altringer has since created three ongoing SEAS courses: Human Centered Algorithm Design (inspired by her earlier ai-kitchen initiative), Design Survivor: Experiential Lessons in Design for Desirability, and the Innovators' Practice: Finding, Leading and Building Good Ideas With Others. She also designs immersive courses in wearable tech, sustainable design, cultural entrepreneurship, sensory design, and digital nomadism.

Altringer was on the founding team and senior leadership of Piaggio Fast Forward through the 2017 launch of their Gita and Kilo robots. In 2014, she created the Sensory Composition project, experimenting with flavor storytelling in context, and has since been building the Flavor Genome Project, working with blind tasting experts, sommeliers, and chefs to create a large database of food and beverage flavors and experimental software with new ways of mapping and navigating flavor (like Spotify does for music). Dr. Altringer completed her postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, PhD in behavioral science and design at University of Cambridge, visiting scholarship in Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford, masters in architecture at University of Cape Town, Fulbright Fellowship at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona, and graduate degree in Arts Management at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She has worked with diverse organizations, including Kering, Gucci Group, Puma, Swarovski, SABMiller, Uber, Diageo, IDEO, FIFA, Drone Racing League, OneLeap, Stanford, MIT, and the Berkman Klein Center.

Contact Information

Office:Pierce 204C
Office Phone:(617) 858-1006


  • MIT Fostering Creativity (MIT-Singapore International Design Center), Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2013
  • NYU/NYU-Poly Verizon Spirit of Innovation Award, 2012
  • Ashoka U Innovation Award Runner-up, 2012
  • Stanford University Design School/Human Computer Interaction Group, Visiting Scholar, 2010 
  • University of Cambridge Emmanuel College Derek Brewer Fellow (UK), 2007-2010
  • City of London Worshipful Company of Marketors Award (UK), 2009
  • Fulbright Scholar (Spain)
  • Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction (Bronze, Africa & Middle East, shared award)
  • University of Cape Town Global Scholar (South Africa)
  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (Chile)
  • David L. Boren (NSEP) Scholar (Czech Republic)
  • Arizona Regents Scholar
  • Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society