Elin Björling

Spring 2021

Designing for an Asynchronous Remote Communities (ARC) tool to support adolescent depression treatment

This DRG will be offered by Julie Kientz, PhD and Jessica Jenness with guidance from Sean Munson, PhD and Elin Björling, PhD

Over 60% of adolescents diagnosed with depression do not receive mental health care and treatment engagement is low among those who do access care. Asynchronous Remote Communities (ARC) are a promising technology-based approach for engaging adolescents in mental health care that capitalizes on the reach and scalability of technology while also providing support, social interactions, and motivation to engage. ARCs use private online platforms (e.g., Slack, Microsoft Teams) to deliver and gather information from adolescents in a format that is lightweight, accessible, usable, and low burden. Our team of researchers including HCDE faculty Juile Kientz, PhD, Sean Munson, PhD, and Elin Björling, PhD and Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine faculty Jessica Jenness, PhD have conducted pilot work to develop a functional Asynchronous Remote Communities (ARC) platform to supplement behavioral activation (BA+ARC) therapy for depressed adolescents using Slack. Our BA+ARC platform included peer and therapist coaching through direct messaging and chat channels, chatbot supported therapy tools, and real-time mood and behavior tracking and visualizations. Mental health clinician and adolescent target users provided critical feedback on design requirements including ARC supplementing versus replacing synchronous therapy sessions and tested preliminary prototypes that adapted core BA elements to a technology platform (BA+ARC). 

We are seeking to adapt our Slack prototype to Microsoft Teams in order to meet certain design criteria including HIPAA compliance and meeting the needs of the clinician’s workflow. We are partnering with Microsoft and Seattle Children’s Hospital engineers to begin the development work and are seeking students to assist in the creation of a design specification document related to this shift from Slack to Teams as well as the addition of automated data collection and visualization tools identified as important by target users.


  1. Understand the design of our current Slack-based prototype that has been developed and feasibility tested with teens and clinicians
  2. Adapt the design of a Slack Prototype for delivering treatment for depression for teens to the Microsoft Teams platform
  3. Create a set of annotated wireframes or an interactive prototype for the new design
  4. Conduct informal usability testing on new ported design
  5. Write a design spec document for communicating that design to a team of developers working at Seattle Children’s and Microsoft by the end of the quarter

Participation Requirements:

  1. Attend our virtual meeting / working session each week, starting the first week of Spring 2021. We will be meeting 4 - 5:20 p.m. PST on Thursdays. 
  2. Experience with prototyping / wireframing and interaction design
  3. Register for 2 HCDE 496/596 in Spring 2021 
  4. This DRG will be offered as Credit/No Credit

To enroll, please complete this form by Friday, March 12. We will let you know if you are selected to join this group by Thursday, March 18.

Spring 2021

SCAN Research Group: Improving usability of a home-based respiratory virus sample collection process for community surveillance of SARS-CoV-2

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) study is a research initiative focused on community-level surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and the development of pandemic-preparedness infrastructure. SCAN’s use of self-collected nasal specimens and remote enrollment processes for monitoring the spread of Covid-19 is an innovative method for increasing disease surveillance and testing capacity in a pandemic setting, especially in populations underrepresented in traditional clinical surveillance.

SCAN is looking for 2-5 students to assist with improving the accessibility, usability, and optimization of the SCAN research participant end-to-end experience as well as increase overall lab testing capacity. Activities will include evaluating the usability of the current SCAN process and messaging, identifying key areas of improvement, and assisting with the design and implementation of process and user experience improvements. This DRG will be run by Lincoln Pothan at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine, with guidance from Elin Bjorling in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.


  • Usability testing experience
  • User research / UI experience / design
  • The meeting day/time per week will be determined by the group. We will have twice weekly team meetings for 30 min and other meetings may be established for specific tasks.

If you are interested in joining this DRG, email Ava Sazanami at with a brief statement about why you are interested.

Spring 2021

Project EMAR

This DRG is full for Spring and no longer accepting applications.

Adolescents are subject to high levels of stress in their lives, resulting from school, relationships, and family life. Not surprisingly, school stress is most commonly reported as the biggest source of stress for teens. Therefore, accurately measuring and intervening to reduce teen stress is imperative to support this vulnerable population.

Social robots are being used to help other populations, such as the elderly and young children. However, there is very little research on either the experience of stress in teens, or the interactions between teens and robots. This presents a unique research opportunity in the field of human-robot interaction (HRI).

Our interdisciplinary team is working on three projects for Fall quarter: (1) design and development of robotic movement and haptics interfaces, (2) implementation and testing of intuitive social robot programming tools, and (3) building out and launching a website for data collection from teens and visualization of collected data. 

The team is led by Elin Björling (Human-Centered Design and Engineering) and Maya Cakmak, (Computer Science and Engineering). For more information about Project EMAR, see our blog at

This DRG is full for Spring and no longer accepting applications.

Dr. Björling's Research Group archive