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Eric Nordquist Becomes New Provost's Teaching Fellow

Clinical Associate Professor, Eric Nordquist was recently nominated for the 2018 Provost’s Teaching Fellowship. Nordquist has accepted the two-year, project-based fellowship, making him the iSchool’s second Provost’s Teaching Fellow.

As a User Experience (UX) professional, Nordquist has brought real-world projects to his Usability and Rapid Prototyping graduate courses and his upper-division undergraduate course, Designing Rich User Experience. With education and healthcare as two of the largest growing sectors in UX, Nordquist has collaborated with Dell Medical faculty for the past three semesters for his class projects.

His students have designed a mobile app that focuses on delivering the results from a mobile pap smear screening to patients of low socio-economic status. In addition, Nordquist has worked on a decision making app that diagnoses arm pain. The app allows patients to enter their perceived pain symptoms, pinpoint specific pain spots using a 3D mobilized image of an arm, and receive a diagnosis –without ever having to step foot inside a medical facility or physically visit a doctor. Nordquist explains, “We wanted to help patients think like a doctor.” The app, which is free of technical medical terminology, can be used to track progressive pain symptoms daily. It even recommends courses of action for patients from going to the ER, to scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or allowing time for the injury to heal. “One goal of the app is to help alleviate strain on medical facilities and professionals, while being cost-effective for patients. It’s a portal to virtual- and value-based healthcare,” said Nordquist.

Nordquist has also participated in a research effort to improve the adoption rate of the existing Thrive app, which aims to track overall well-being of undergraduate students as they transition to their new UT college environment. Geared towards holistic health, the Thrive app can record moods, help students establish community, and connect students with other students. Nordquist helped the Thrive app team redesign their materials so students could recognize the app’s potential, and thus, its value in tracking their overall wellness.

This semester, Nordquist and his students are helping to design the next-generation product for Nurturedbydesign, an Oprah-featured company and Toyota Innovation Award winner, focused on helping premature babies in NICU. The Kangaroozak will allow new mothers to safely utilize the “golden hour” of skin-to-skin contact with their babies, without the potential hazard of accidents due to postpartum exhaustion. “We’re working on an app that interfaces with this sensor to detect when the baby is in the Kangaroozak, as well as the amount of time they spend ‘kangarooing.’ The app will transmit data back to doctors on everything from the baby’s oxygen level and heart rate to breast feeding activity,” explained Nordquist. “It will be like an Alexa, where you can set a timer for skin-to-skin contact.” Once the app is prescribed, new moms will be able to use the Kangaroozak remotely, while doctors receive messages about their babies’ progress.

Nordquist’s research and teaching philosophy revolves around preparing students for the job market and facilitating their learning and growth in a changing landscape. In addition to iSchool students, he hopes to reach students on campus in Dell Medical, Nursing, Computer Science, Engineering, and Public Health. Funding from this fellowship will allow Nordquist to build a more stable, long-term research plan for the iSchool’s IX (Information eXperience) Lab focused on design innovations in healthcare in partnership with Dell Medical. “My goal has always been to continue changing and impacting people’s lives in a different way,” he noted.

The Provost’s Teaching Fellows program was initiated five years ago in October of 2013. It was commissioned by Senior Vice Provost, David Laude, and is supported by the Faculty of Innovation Center. Teaching Fellows undertake an individual initiative to improve teaching and learning in their classroom, department, and college. They meet monthly to discuss initiatives and projects, and are committed to improving teaching practice and campus culture. Teaching Fellows also work on individual projects –about two dozen at any time, from various schools and departments across the university.

Diane Bailey was the iSchool’s first Provost’s Teaching Fellow. In her new role as senior fellow, Dr. Bailey will serve as a mentor for the Provost’s Teaching Fellows program. She passes down the Provost’s Teaching Fellowship torch to Eric, whom she believes will be a fantastic representation of the iSchool. “He represents the fun and innovative ways in which we strive to interact with our students through teaching and experiential learning opportunities.”