"Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders."
-World Health Organization (WHO)
I am an Assistant Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science as well as The Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I'm the Director of the Mental Health in Design (MiD) Lab, which brings together a diverse group of individuals interested in understanding and advocating for mental health in and beyond digital spaces.
I am also the Assistant Director of the iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3), a leadership and development program for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups. Students of all majors and backgrounds come together to learn how they can make a positive impact in the world through Information Science and Computing research. I am also the Co-Director of the Inclusion Lab, a research lab aimed at addressing the needs of i3 scholars and affiliates after the formal i3 program.
My research is broadly in the area of digital mental health. For me, this means studying the impact of "general purpose" technologies (e.g., social media, diet and fitness app) on users' mental health as well as technologies specifically designed to support mental health. My work is interdisciplinary, human-centered, and problem-driven. I believe the only way to make a real impact is to understand people's experiences, and I value different methodological approaches to provide a more holistic perspective. By studying diverse groups of users and the contextual factors that affect them, I believe we can design better and more effective technologies.
I also have experience in making and designing technologies for therapeutic interventions, diet and fitness, and sustainability (see this document for an overview). These projects span various domains but highlight my design process experience, which I aim to continue in my future work but focusing on emotions, thought processes, and mental health broadly.
Primary research areas: Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Public Health, Informatics, Information Science, Psychology
Being a first generation college graduate, I know the challenges of pursuing higher education. Technology touches all of our lives in some way. I want to help people see the value of having different people of varying backgrounds and skills work towards understanding and designing technology. Additionally, I would like to inspire others to study technology and encourage them to get involved in research early.
Before becoming an Assistant Professor, I completed a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) and the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). I earned my PhD from the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Prior to starting graduate school in 2012, I received my bachelor's degree in Psychology from Penn State in Fall 2010.
Honors and Awards
News & Updates
May 2022: Interview with Protocol featured in "Carrot vs. stick: Can you hack your productivity with punishment?"
February 2022: Interview with Cosmopolitan featured in "Fitness trackers are improving our physical health, but what about our mental wellbeing?"
Winter 2022: Launched first ever DSGN 201 course with Eric Hekler
Fall 2021: Served as AC for Health track for CHI 2022
Fall 2021: Poster paper accepted to iConference 2022
Fall 2021: Single author paper accepted to BJPsych Open
Fall 2021: Coauthored paper accepted to Journal of Medical Internet Research
Fall 2021: Coauthored paper accepted to Stigma & Health
August 2021: MiD Lab Social App Design Workshop findings presented at URC (TRELS)
Summer 2021: You And app promoted at Angels game
Summer 2021: Participated as a Design Lab panelist
Summer 2021: Codeveloped and cofacilitated three Design Lab panels
Summer 2021: Codeveloped and cohosted first ever i3 Alumni Institute
May 2021: First author paper accepted to Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
May 2021: MiD Lab CAPS Redesign Project presented at URC
Spring 2021: Featured on The Anomalous Mind podcast
Spring 2021: Awarded seed grant to investigate factors that influence compassion cultivation in telemental health
Spring 2021: Presented work at Penn State IST
Spring 2021: Awarded funding for postdoc through CIFellows
Winter 2021: Interviewed for featured article in The Swaddle about the role of diet and fitness apps in eating disorders
Winter 2021-Spring 2021: Co-hosting Design@Large weekly on racism in design
Winter 2021: Published Barriers and facilitators to user engagement with digital mental health interventions: A systematic review in JMIR
Winter 2021: Published Curating the digital mental health landscape with a guide to behavioral health apps: A county-driven resource in Psychiatric Services
Winter 2021: Attended A Conversation on Creating a More Racially Just Campus Environment at UC San Diego; HWSPH Community Restorative Justice Event; and Health Sciences Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Community Fair
Winter 2021: Participating in the Building a Respectful and Inclusive Culture course
February 2021: Guest lectured for Dr. Cinnamon Bloss' Technology & Precision Health for Public Good course
Fall 2020: Invited to submit book chapter on textual methods to understanding eating disorders
Fall 2020: Invited to consult with Lose It! about app changes for individuals with eating disorders
Fall 2020: Served as CHI 2021 AC in Health Track
Fall 2020: Served as faculty node for HWSPH strategic planning workgroup, Career Development Academic Lead
Fall 2020: ASIST panel organizer and speaker: Opportunities and challenges of self-tracking technologies
Fall 2020: Published a scoping review of qualitative work in JAMIA
Fall 2020: Published a paper reviewing personal informatics literature over the last decade in IMWUT
Fall 2020: Awarded small grant with PI Byron Fergerson and team for SMS monitoring of stress in physicians
Fall 2020: Featured in Design Lab article
Fall 2020: Temporarily appointed to the Norman Design Fund review committee
December 2020: Poster accepted to iConference 2021
December 2020: Gave talk at digital mental health advisory board meeting
November 2020: Guest lectured for Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy's Mental Health Epidemiology course on Considerations for Digital Technologies for Mental Health: Data Use and People’s Needs
November 2020: 3 collaborative posters accepted to Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
October 2020: Interviewed by Vice for featured article on the Noom app
October: Gave invited talk at UCSD's Bioengineering (~70 people)
October 2020: Participated in HWSPH's strategic planning for our vision and mission
October 2020: Attended Diet and Technology Workshop
October 2020: Invited to attend Health of People, Health of Planet, and Our Responsibility: Community Engagement Event
September 2020: Began serving on PH MPH Curriculum Committee
September 2020: Attended Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health's The Hospital Panel—Deconstructing ‘Otherness'
Summer-Fall 2020: Attended 6-week training course on Racial Resilience
Summer 2020: Consulted with OneMind PsyberGuide and Phoenix House to develop a resilience app
Summer 2020: Hosted our first ever virtual i3 Concluding Institute!
July 2020: Invited as panel speaker for UCI's Trainee Brown Bag Series
July 2020: Gave talk at digital mental health advisory board meeting
June 2020: Gave invited talk to OC MHSA INN Community Planning Meeting
May 2020: Guest lectured in Dr. Suzi Hong's Public Mental Health Course
May 2020: Gave invited talk to OC MHSA INN Community Planning Meeting
April 2020: Served as PC member for ICHI 2020
April 2020: Gave talk at digital mental health advisory board meeting
March 2020: Attended iConference virtually; 3 papers published: Depression Management as Lifestyle Management, Perceived Use and Effects of Social Media for 1-2.5 Generation Immigrant College Students with Depression, Expanding the REU Model in an iSchool Context
January 2020: Became Assistant Professor at UCSD!
January 2020: Abstract accepted to SBM 2020!
December 2019: Paper accepted to SITE: Design, Implementation, and Reflections on the Teaching of Computer Programming Modules to Underrepresented Students
November 2019: Multiple papers accepted to iConference!
June & July 2019: First Introductory and Concluding Institute as the i3 Assistant Director
June 2019: Awarded grant through IMLS!
June 2019: Awarded grant for i3 through the Mellon Foundation!
April & May 2019: Gave multiple job talks!
March 2019: Presented at iConference!
March 2019: Attended the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) conference!
January 2019: Papers accepted to iConference 2019!
January 2019: Poster accepted to SBM!