Sean Munson

Summer 2019

Implementing Mental Health Strategies in Everyday Life

Many people cope with mental health challenges. People develop strategies to cope with stressful situations and to improve outcomes for supporting mental health. In this DRG we seek to understand how people implement strategies to support mental health in their everyday life. Through a qualitative study we will understand how people work with health providers to decide on goals to support mental health, how individuals implement solutions towards mental health goals, and how people update their goals and strategies as they try to implement them every day. We will be working in the context of depression and older adults, focusing on people who are working with a therapist towards their goals.

Requirements: It is strongly recommended that students took HCDE 313/418/518. If you have not taken any of these courses please provide a strong explanation of your interest in participating in the DRG, and any other relevant experience that would inform your participation in the DRG.

DRG Activities: During the DRG we will conduct an interview and diary study to understand how people implement mental health strategies in their everyday life. We will also analyze interactions between clients and therapists to understand their practices in setting goals and planning actions during the therapy session.

We will finalize protocols to interview clients and therapists, analyze therapy sessions between clients and therapists, conduct interviews with therapists and clients, and analyze qualitative data.

Students will be expected to participate in some or all of: recruiting participants, conducting interviews, analyzing qualitative data, and writing up results.

We will meet for 90 minutes weekly. The time and day of the DRG will be decided to accommodate the schedule of accepted students and research team.

Credits: We expect students to register for at least 2 credits, and we highly encourage students to register for 3-4 credits HCDE 496/596; for each credit you should expect to spend about three hours of work per week. If you are seeking research experience but cannot sign up for credits, please explain in your application.

Students will get exposure to a variety of facets of the research process, and can expect to work closely PhD Student Elena Agapie, with guidance from Prof. Gary Hsieh and Sean Munson. Please contact Elena Agapie ( if you have questions.

To apply, fill in this form (Deadline: Thursday, June 6). We will be making decisions soon after the deadline.

Spring 2019

A Design Space for Mindfulness Technologies

Mindfulness can be defined as awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Its roots lie in Buddhist traditions from thousands of years ago. Yet today, new technologies (e.g., mobile apps, wearable devices, and VR) are bringing this ancient practice to new audiences.

How are these new technologies currently being designed to cultivate mindfulness? Which design choices require special consideration in mindfulness technologies? For example, are ‘social gamification’ features appropriate in an app that teaches mindfulness? How can we help designers who are new to mindfulness become aware of these considerations? The goals of this DRG are: (1) characterize how mobile apps are currently designed for mindfulness; (2) create a representation of a design space that designers can use to generate new mindfulness technologies.

Planned activities:

  • Practice mindfulness using a different mobile app each week
  • Explore and characterize the current landscape of mindfulness technologies
  • Represent a design space for mindfulness technologies. This could be in the form of a visualization, a Wiki, or a simple website.
  • Write up our findings in the form of an academic research paper

To apply, please complete this google form. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 18. We will notify all applicants of our decisions by Monday, March 25.

Required Availability

  • Attend our 2-hour meeting each week: Mondays, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings
  • Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter of HCDE 496/596

This DRG will be led by PhD student Kai Lukoff, with guidance from Associate Professor Sean Munson (HCDE) and Assistant Professor Alexis Hiniker (iSchool). This DRG is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Spring 2019

Technology Design for Goal-Directed Migraine Tracking 

People with migraine often track migraine-related data for a variety of goals (e.g., identifying migraine "triggers", communicating with their doctors, predicting future migraines). However, current technology often fails to support the specific goals people have for migraine tracking.  We hope to better support migraine tracking and management via goal-directed self-tracking, a novel method we are developing to help people with migraine: 1) track exactly and only what they need to track to achieve their goals, and 2) interpret the resulting data with respect to those goals.

In this DRG, we are looking for a student experienced in visual/graphic design who is interested in helping us design our goal-directed self-tracking app.  We have a paper prototype and some initial development already completed.  Based on the needed functionality and predicted use cases for the app, we expect the student to iteratively develop visual prototypes of the visual and interaction design of the app. Optionally, if they have programming experience with CSS/HTML and/or Ionic, they could also contribute directly to the app development.  

We plan to conduct a pilot study with the app in late spring/early summer. Depending on how the project proceeds, the student may have the opportunity to be involved in that and/or future studies around goal-directed self-tracking. Future interest and availability are not requirements for participating in the spring DRG.

To apply, please complete this application form by Tuesday, March 12.

You must register for 2-3 credits of HCDE 496/596. Typically, we expect this effort to represent a weekly 60-minute meeting (time to be set based on mutual availability), plus 2-3 hours per credit of work outside of our meetings each week.  This DRG will be led by PhD student Jessie Schroeder, with guidance from Professors Sean Munson (HCDE) and James Fogarty (CSE).  

Dr. Munson's Research Group archive