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Jennifer Mankoff and Eve Riskin lead ECE’s co-sponsored UW EXP study

December 5, 2019

UW EXP is a student health and wellness study which uses surveys and biometrics (phone and Fitbit data) to study how personal and academic stressors affect student wellness. It is a sister study to Life@CMU and the StudentLife study at Dartmouth. This annual study adds to the growing field of biometric research, and UW EXP’s goal is to guide University of Washington students and administration in addressing student stress and mental health to improve the Husky Experience.

Students can experience negative stress from major life events, discrimination and difficult academic challenges, especially in the capacity-constrained environment of the College of Engineering. This study is unique and valuable because it is one of the first to combine biometric data with self-reported data. UW EXP’s hope is that by combining the two, they can begin to understand the relationship between behavior, mental health and student experiences.


The top five research questions that UW EXP is investigating are: 

  1. How do stressors such as discrimination impact women and minorities?
  2. How do stressors impact behavior?
  3. How can UW help reduce the impact of stress on students?
  4. Can biometric data track changes due to stressors?
  5. What measurable effects does adversity have on student wellness?

The burden of discrimination, financial stress and other adversity is real. UW EXP’s findings show how important support is in dealing with these stressors. At the University of Washington, students can find support by joining student groups and accessing resources for health and wellness, academic support, and financial aid.

UW EXP is currently analyzing data from 2018 to understand who reports discrimination and how micro-climates in the College of Engineering may correlate with lower stress and depression. Learn more about UW EXP at make4all.org/uwexperience/.

Currently, the study is being funded internally by the College of Engineering, including the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. In addition, they have received funding from the National Science Foundation; and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.