My Experience working with the EPOCH Lab

Author: Matt Kianpour

Matt sitting in the Jordan Hall of Science, working on research on his laptop.
Matt sitting in the Jordan Hall of Science, working on research on his laptop.

This semester, I began working alongside Dr. Karla Badillo-Urquiola in the EPOCH Lab (Empowering People Organizations & Communities through Human-Computer Interaction Lab), which seeks to understand and design technologies for youth, families, and communities to promote the safety and privacy of the most vulnerable. Additionally, we work to investigate how people interact with technologies in healthcare contexts—which interests me as a Science-Computing student (check out this blog I wrote)! With Notre Dame’s unique mission to be a force for good, through this research, I can study the intersections of my interests in healthcare, social justice, and technology. As an aspiring physician, with a strong background in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, my work with Dr. Badillo-Urquiola excites me to incorporate community-based research in my medical career.

Each week, I meet one-on-one with Dr. Badillo-Urquiola who offers me support, guidance, and mentoring, to push the research along. This year, the EPOCH lab is partnered with the St. Joseph County Department of Health to design, research, and develop behavioral responses to messaging and interventions for the St Joseph County Department of Health. Although I am a second-semester senior, I have been involved in research on campus since my sophomore year (also, check out this blog)!

It is very easy to get involved in research at Notre Dame—did you know 89% of students participate in internships or conduct research before they graduate? No matter which major you choose, Notre Dame offers opportunities for undergraduate research and creative expression. As a Notre Dame student, you can study ancient architecture in Rome, help advance cancer research at the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute, or write, produce, and star in your own musical performed at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. With support from a network of campus resources, like the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, along with world-class research facilities, Notre Dame provides its undergraduates the opportunity to contribute to world changing research even as early as a first-year student.

As I graduate from Notre Dame this semester, I will take with me the wonderful opportunities I have had to interact with, and contribute to, academic research. My Notre Dame education has showed me that academic research is not an “ivory tower,” filled with aloof professors who pursue niche academic interests, but rather, it is conducted by passionate Notre Dame researchers, like Dr. Badillo-Urquiola, who is interested in conducting research to empower people and protect the well-being of youth and marginalized communities. From receiving a grant to conduct research in Spain, to working with the EPOCH Lab, I have developed strong research interests here at Notre Dame, and I am excited to build upon them in the future.