Professor wins NSF CAREER award, creating new approach to health tracking

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
January 26, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Eun Kyoung Choe, assistant professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER Award. One of the foundation’s most prestigious awards, the recognition is given to junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.”

The award will fund Choe’s project “Advancing Personal Informatics through Semi-Automated and Collaborative Tracking,” which is designed to create a more dynamic and customizable method of tracking health data. By combining the ease of automated health trackers in wearable devices like Fitbits, with the commitment of manual recording of data, it aims to help people better utilize their health data like weight, sleep patterns, and medication use.

The project is unique because it allows users to customize their own platform. Choe said, “You can dynamically create a tracker for individuals with different needs.” Different criteria can be used for different patients: An obese person may track exercise and weight, or someone with diabetes can alter the platform to monitor their blood glucose levels.

“People are largely bounded by what’s available in the commercial market. They can’t create trackers based on their needs,” Choe explained. “My research question is to examine the effect of a dynamic self-tracker on people’s self-tracking practice. People can have the freedom to add or edit the data needed and modify as they go.” Users can also feed in data from different health trackers, such as an AppleWatch, and input their data automatically.

The new platform will be used by adults living in a retirement community and patients who are making lifestyle changes to prepare for surgery. “By having patients use the platform, doctors will have access to better data to make better clinical decisions, such as whether the patient is ready to have a surgery,” Choe said.

“Dr. Choe’s innovative work will create new technologies and information sharing methods that will improve lives,” noted Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST. “Her work exemplifies the groundbreaking research of IST faculty. We all congratulate her on this achievement and are excited to see the future of her research.”

In addition to making a strong research contribution, Choe said, “I’d like to see patients use this in their everyday life, as an actual technology that can be integrated into their everyday life.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 26, 2017