Penn State University
Penn State University
I am a PhD candidate in the College of Information Science and Technology (IST). I am currently working with Dr. Saeed Abdullah in the Well-being and Health Innovation (WHI) Lab at Penn State University.
Prior to starting graduate school in 2016, I received my bachelor's of science in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University in Fall 2011.
Broadly, my research seeks to understand technology use within the context of mental health and well-being. I am interested in how users choose to adopt technology for informational and social support. This often involves seeking out support from others through social media, taking advantage of tracking tools to learn about and manage symptoms, or seeking out technology-based interventions that provide flexibility over when and how they receive therapy from the comfort of their own homes.
However, technology can be a double-edged sword for mental health, as it often involves appropriating technologies that were originally developed for other purposes and general audiences. Because of this, there can be a mismatch in user needs and the more problematic chance for maladaptive use, such as prolonging eating disorders, promoting self-negative thoughts and suicidal ideation, or amplifying stigmatization in the anonymous depths of the internet and social media. More work is needed to uncover existing challenges and circumvent them through more thoughtful design.
To develop new systems to specifically support the needs of these users, it is important to understand how they view and adopt technologies “in-the-wild”, but also how those technologies affect user well-being, for better and worse. In my work, I use a qualitative, user-centered approach to gather in-depth knowledge about the people and their contexts to develop a foundation for future design to improve daily life: including college-students, rural isolated adults, foster families, patients living with bipolar disorder, and addressing accessibility issues that leave some user groups isolated from the potential benefits new technologies.
Given the current obstacles to health resources, be that physical isolation, financial difficulty, or general social stigma, a significant portion of US adults do not seek out the help they need. Conversational agents, behavioral tracking systems, and social support systems can provide users with more options to bridge this gap. These technologies, when designed with users’ needs wholeheartedly in mind, can be used to breakdown barriers and provide users an opportunity to take control of their own health and achieve a higher standard of living.
Primary Research Areas:
I will be going to San Francisco to co-present a conference paper at AMIA 2018.
I attended and presented at the Design4Diversity Workshop for PervasiveHealth 2018 in New York City.