James Wallace, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo

James Wallace, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo

October 15, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Today’s technology is helping us
understand ourselves, our friends and our family, and our interactions with
everyone around us. And my research is helping us understand those interactions
to improve our health and well-being. My name is Jim Wallace and I’m a researcher
in the School of Public Health and Health Systems. My research develops new
technologies that help us make sense of all this information – ranging from large
displays in a command center down to personal informatics on a mobile
device in your pocket. To conduct my research, my students create games that
help us understand our own personal information to lead healthier lives.
Those games range from mobile games that you might play while you’re grocery
shopping to help you choose healthier groceries – to online games that might
connect you with peers for mental support. As we all know computers today
are pervasive they’re involved with every part of our life but it wasn’t
that long ago that they weren’t, and I remember when I was a co-op student at
the University of Waterloo – one of my first co-op terms I was a tech
support person for a large company and even though the computers were just
being used for things like spreadsheets and databases, they broke down all the
time. They were really hard to use and it ended up costing people just hours and
hours of time out of the workday – and so when I started looking at graduate
programs one of the things I wanted to do was tackle that problem and
understand how we can make computers easier to use. Supervising graduate
students is my favourite part of the job. I get to work with a lot of very
talented students on a big range of different problems and most of the time
I’m learning from them just as much as they’re learning from me –
so I really love it. I love working at the University of Waterloo because it’s
so interdisciplinary people come together at the Games Institute from
Computer Science and Engineering to work with my students in health to solve
really challenging health problems.