Undergraduate Research Program

Shelley Tsui

Shelly smilingMajor: Visual Communication Design
Mentor: Annie T. Chen, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

Contact: tsuis@uw.edu

Current research project: Virtual Online Communities for Aging Life Experiences (VOCALE)


Shelley is a senior working on her Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication Design at the University of Washington. Right now she is working with VOCALE (Virtual Online Communities for Aging Life Experiences), an online Discourse platform focused on problem-solving therapy for older adults. Her role is to help provide UX feedback and aid in focus group interviews with past participants in addition to the visual design of the platform itself.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
There is a need for interventions to promote health management of older adults with frailty. Technology poses promising solutions, but questions exist about effective delivery. Virtual Online Communities for Older Adults (VOCALE) is an eight-week intervention in which participants share health-related experiences
and applied problem-solving skills. Our intervention provides insight into design considerations for digital interventions to promote health-related sharing and problem solving among older adults.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I essentially got involved in undergraduate research accidentally in my junior year at UW. I was taking a class outside my major and the professor sent out an email about a design position to create a platform that would aid patients with cancer for goals of care discussions with their clinicians. The concept sounded intriguing to me and when I applied, it didn’t even occur to me that the position was for a research project! I had always been under the impression that research was limited to STEM fields and so never felt compelled to get involved. I’ve since learned otherwise and I’m committed to sharing my story with others who may have had the same misconceptions I had when I was a freshmen.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t second-guess yourself! It’s easy to get bogged down by imposter syndrome, especially when first starting out. Every perspective/major/idea contains merit, and it’s so rewarding to see how these projects grow and develop. To be involved in the process itself really makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.