Amy S. Lu

Associate Professor
College of Arts, Media & Design
Bouvé College of Health Sciences
Northeastern University

360 Huntington Ave
212A Lake Hall
Boston, MA 02115
O: 617.373.7839
F: 617.373.8533
E: a dot lu AT northeastern dot edu

l t a r t t

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Game Design program of the College of Arts, Media and Design and the Department of Health Sciences of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University.

I direct the Health Technology Lab and advise students in the Department of Communication Studies, the Game Design program, and the Department of Health Sciences.

My area of interest is the persuasive mechanism of media and communication technologies and their health behavioral and psychological applications. The subtopics include:

I am interested in the persuasive effects of media narratives, or stories that may affect health. One of the oldest and still most pervasive forms of communication, narratives may be an especially powerful way to communicate about health and change behavior. Narratives have the unique immersive quality that enables suspension of disbelief, vivid personal experiences, and helps create affection for the story’s characters. Currently I explore the use of narratives as motivational tools for childhood obesity prevention and dietary assessment via interactive media such as health video games.

My fascination with mediated characters originated in my childhood interest in anime, or Japanese animation. As a genre, anime has many international, or non-Japanese, visual and cultural elements. I developed a theoretical framework for such cultural hybridity and later explored this phenomenon of exotic looking characters from a cognitive psychology perspective. My line of mediated character research is closely aligned with narrative research as character and plot are the main components of a narrative and important determinants of its immersive quality.

Digital media are especially important when trying to reach children and adolescents, who are active media users and early adopters of new means of communication technology. I have studied topics such as health video games on childhood obesity prevention, personal health blogs for health behavior promotion, health information seeking behavior, adolescent Instant Message (IM) use, mass media’s influence on adolescents’ sexual behaviors, and the influence of TV advertisements on snacking behavior. Now I am developing a customized Implicit Association Test (IAT) to improve health food intake.

These three topics of research are integral to my health and technology research paradigm: Narratives provide a context and potential for persuasion and behavior change; characters are actors carrying the stories and should be easily identified by audience members; both narratives and characters could be situated in interactive health technologies for effective behavioral intervention.

I plan to continue exploring the interaction between these topics and to continue investigating the unique capacities of health technology to promote health.

+ There are currently multiple RA positions open.

+ Are you the parent of an 8 to 12 year-old child who likes to play video games, doesn't get enough exercise, and lives in the Greater Boston area? Sign up for our new project here!

+ I am looking for graduate and undergraduate students who would like to explore technology-based health promotion via video games, electronic devices, interactive applications, etc. Please drop me a line to set up a time to discuss the grad programs and/or exciting projects!

News & Fun UPDATES
2018/9/11: Our physical activity measurement paper is out!

2018/7/20: Our latest narrative/active game/cognition paper is out and reported here and there

2018/1/2: Our games4health content analysis is online

2017/3/31: Wrote about Julia, a Muppet with autism, on Sesame Street.

2017/1/31: Talked about my AVG project on Top of Mind.

2016/10/15: New pub on narrative + AVG is out :)

2016/7/1: Postdoctral Research Associate Hired!

2016/4/1: Just received my first R01 grant :D

2016/3/17: Had a blast with my first GDC talk!

2015/8/1: Finally done with summer conferences, whew!

2014/10/6: First Beantown talk

2014/8/1: Boston!
+Older news, equally fun+

2013/6/19: Webgame Con '13

2013/3/20: In SF for SBM + GDC & spring break

2012/11/26: Nailed my lab name: Health Technology Lab!

2012/7/1: Just received my first R21 grant :)