UW iSchool Honors Eun Kyoung Choe with Distinguished Alumni Award

UW Staff - May 24, 2024

UMD INFO College Associate Professor is recognized for exceptional contributions to the information field

Hernisa Kacorri Amanda Lazar Eun Kyoung Choe

Eun Kyoung Choe (Right) with UMD INFO College colleagues Hernisa Kacorri and Amanda Lazar

Given annually, the University of Washington (UW) iSchool Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have made significant and exceptional contributions to the information field and their communities.

The 2024 UW Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Eun Kyoung Choe, Ph.D. ’14, is an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies (INFO). Working at the intersection of human-computer interaction and health informatics, she creates accessible health technologies for marginalized populations.

Choe’s research started with sleep tracking. Her dissertation at the UW iSchool focused on understanding why some people sleep well and finding ways to help those who sleep poorly. As her career has progressed, she has branched out into research areas such as exercise for older adults, digital well-being, and designing health tools that are more accessible to marginalized users such as stroke survivors and older adults.

For example, she said, wearable devices might work well for a typical “mainstream” user, often characterized as young and fit, but their data and insights might be compromised when used by individuals with reduced mobility, such as those who walk slowly or use a walker or a wheelchair.

“These health technologies are for the general public — individuals from all walks of life — so you have to think about how to make them accessible to all, but especially to those who need them the most,” she said. “We are questioning how these mainstream devices are currently designed and what we need to do to make them more accessible.”

Choe served as her college’s Ph.D. program director from 2020-2023. While at the UW iSchool, she was co-advised by Julie Kientz, who is now a professor and chair of the UW’s Human Centered Design & Engineering department, and Wanda Pratt, a professor in the UW iSchool. She credits them with shaping her as a researcher and mentor.

“They turned me from a naïve graduate student to an independent researcher,” she said. “I feel so fortunate to have been Julie’s first Ph.D. student, observing what it takes to be a successful researcher from such close proximity. And Wanda is the most kind and genuine person, who gave me really frank, direct feedback in the nicest way possible. I always think of her as my model when giving feedback to students.”

Click here to read the full, original article by Doug Parry, published by the University of Washington Information School on May 13, 2024.