"Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders."
-World Health Organization (WHO)
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health 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 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.
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 more 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
January 2020: Became Assistant Professor at UCSD!
January 2020: Abstract accepted to SBM 2020!
December 2019: Paper accepted to SITE!
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!
August 2018: CSCW paper with Mayara Costa Figueiredo, Clara Marques Caldeira, Melissa A. Mazmanian, and Yunan Chen accepted!
August 2018: CSCW Workshop on doing research with stigmatized populations accepted! (Collaborators: Juan Fernando Maestre, Mark Warner, Jessica Pater, Maia Jacobs, Svetlana "Lana" Yarosh, Patrick C. Shih)
June 2018: Paper on the use of general health apps > condition-specific apps accepted to AMIA!
July 2018: Participated on a panel and attended the BUILD Summit to discuss diversity initiatives
June 2018: Invited to give a talk at i3!
June 2018: Went to HCIC is discuss the intersection of AI and HCI
June 2018: Invited to give a talk in Dr. Jessica Borelli's THRIVE Lab on my research on diet and fitness apps!
May 2018: Gave a guest lecture in Dr. Yunan Chen's CSCW course on social and collaborative aspects in the health domain!
May 2018: Invited to give a talk on promoting and designing for mental health as part of the Informatics seminar series at UCI!
May 2018: Invited to give a talk to Dr. André van der Hoek's delegates on HAI Lab!
April 2018: Book chapter on unintended uses, users, and consequences published!
April 2018: Poster accepted to ICTS Translational Research Day
March 2018: Co-presented #Depression: Findings from a Literature Review of 10 Years of Social Media and Depression Research with my i3 team