Colleen Clark

MDes in Integrative Design

Colleen first practiced integrating different disciplines as an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, designing her studies to concentrate in public health, studio art, and bioethics. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was awarded a post-baccalaureate research fellowship in the health disparities unit in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Following the fellowship, she was invited to assist with designing an exhibit that translated the current and future implications of genomic research into accessible language and interactive experiences at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Thinking she would tackle health disparities through practicing medicine, Colleen moved to Vermont to complete requirements for medical school. Instead she found herself drawn to the potential of applying human centered design in healthcare settings. She interned for an experience design strategist who later hired her as a consultant in the healthcare innovation collaborative (hiCOlab) at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Her primary projects were designing patient facing tools and clinical systems to assist adolescent patients with chronic illnesses transition to adult specialty care, exploring how to foster community among adolescent patients with Type 1 Diabetes, and conducting design research to inform the building of a new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Through these complex projects, Colleen developed the important characteristics and abilities of an effective designer: recognizing common threads and thereby jump starting collaborators, finessing and navigating a range of dynamics, and being flexible and willing to wade through ambiguity. While Colleen discovered design in the context of healthcare and she remains passionate about healthcare issues, it is the broader subject of disparities that motivates her.