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Julie A. Kientz is a Professor and Chair of the department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She directs the Computing for Healthy Living and Learning Lab, is active in the Design, Use, Build (dub) alliance, and has adjunct appointments in The Information School and Computer Science & Engineering. Dr. Kientz’s primary research areas are in the fields of Human-Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, and Health Informatics.

Her research focuses on understanding and reducing the user burdens of interactive technologies for health and education through the design of future applications. She has designed, developed, and evaluated mobile, sensor, and social applications for helping individuals with sleep problems, parents of young children tracking developmental progress, adolescents with mild-to-moderate depression, people who want to quit smoking, and special education teachers working with children with autism. Her primary research methods involve human-centered design, technology development, and a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Dr. Kientz received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2009, named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 in 2013, and was given the UW College of Engineering Faculty Research Innovator award in 2014 and Teaching Innovator award in 2019.

ALACRITY Center’s New Study Aims to Address Social Isolation in Seniors During COVID-19

The ALACRITY Center is taking on a new project in response to COVID-19, “Stay Connected: developing an intervention to promote mental health among isolated senior housing residents”. Leading the project are Patrick Raue, PhD, Patricia Areán, PhD, and Brenna Renn, PhD. 

We will work with senior housing residents experiencing social distancing challenges to design a remote program to address risk factors associated with depression, anxiety and social isolation. The project will also consider the needs of housing staff promoting the health and well‐being of their residents, and address the insufficient workforce of geriatric mental health providers by utilizing Bachelor’s-level providers.

The study was funded through the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Small Grants Program.


Amritha Bhat, MBBS, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist trained in both India and the United States, is currently an assistant professor in the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She earned her Master of Public Health through the UW School of Public Health. She established the perinatal psychiatry clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center and has also implemented screening for depression in mothers whose babies are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. In addition, Dr. Bhat is actively involved in projects that make collaborative care for depression available to women during pregnancy and postpartum. 

As an R03 recipient and Principal Investigator, she is cross collaborating with Monica Oxford in nursing to redesign a parenting intervention. They have been using ALACRITY’s DDBT Framework and design methodologies to research barriers and needs to the parenting intervention Promoting First Relationships (PFR). PFR is used to treat women for perinatal depression and anxiety (PDA). Dr. Bhat and her team have been interviewing Care Managers, PFR therapists, and patients to identify features of the intervention that may need to be modified for delivery within a collaborative care framework. Their goal is to redesign Promoting First Relationships, or parts of it, to enhance the usability of the intervention for both clinicians and women with PDA in primary care. Read the project abstract.