Photo by Dave Burbank
Photo by Dave Burbank.

I’m a fifth year PhD candidate in the Department of Communication at Cornell University. My dissertation work focuses on building and evaluating therapeutic virtual environments for individuals suffering from depression.

Like many of my peers, my journey into Communication studies was unconventional. I completed a B.S. in Neuroscience with an interest in visual cognition under the mentorship of Dr. Jason Haberman. During my studies at Rhodes College, I also learned about the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) which merged my interests in visual cognition, perception, and HCI thanks to Dr. Person at the Learning Technologies Lab.

After Rhodes, I sought a masters in professional science (MPS), with a concentration in HCI, at Cornell University.  While pursuing my masters, I worked with Dr. Schrader (PsyComm Lab) on the Everybody Talks project and completed a capstone project for the Communication and Collaborative Technologies Lab.

During my masters I came up with an idea to develop an app that induces short bursts of positive emotion for a class project. Although the app never made it past the ivory tower, the experience and the idea cemented my interest in designing mental health technologies for mood management.

Drawing from my background in visual cognition and HCI, I utilize a mixed methods approach in conducting exploratory work on self-representation and depression management using virtual reality (VR). I study the experience of self-representation in a technology based society and the effects of VR interventions on depression management at the Virtual Embodiment Lab.