Assistant Professor of Communication Design
Penina Laker is an assistant professor of communication design in the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis. As a graphic designer and educator, her professional work and research are centered around topics that utilize a human-centered approach to solving social problems. In 2013, she collaborated on an award-winning project that used simplified iconography to communicate ailments associated with the spread, prevention, and treatment of malaria in Kibera, Kenya. This work has received multiple awards, with Metropolis Magazine naming it runner-up in its Next Generation Design Competition; it also earned the Student Notable Honoree status after placing in the top six of all national entries in the Core77 2013 Design Awards.
Professor Laker earned an MFA in Visual Communication Design from Kent State University and a BA in Art from Goshen College. As a component of her MFA thesis, she developed a secondary-level design curriculum that was inspired by the paucity of design education in Uganda, despite the growth and increasing number of job opportunities within the country’s design sector. This subsequently inspired the creation of DesignEd Uganda workshops that Professor Laker organizes and facilitates over the summer to equip young people with skills in design and creative problem-solving.
Penina and her husband, Kyle moved to St. Louis in the Fall of 2015. They have one child, Christina and attend Grace and Peace Fellowship.