Will Kearns

Will Kearns

Health Dialog Researcher

University of Washington


I’m a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington where I develop technologies that enable machines to understand human emotion and respond in ways that provide therapeutic value.


  • Conversational Intelligence
  • User-centered Design
  • Affective Computing
  • Semantic Search


  • Biomedical and Health Informatics, Ph.D. Candidate, 2015-2021 (expected)

    University of Washington

  • Computational and Life Sciences, B.S. w/ minor in Mathematics, 2009-2014

    University of Central Florida

  • History, B.A., Honors in Major, 2009-2014

    University of Central Florida



Graduate Research Assistant

Center for Innovation in Sleep Self-Management, UW School of Nursing

Jan 2019 – Present
Graduate Research Assistant for the Informatics Core of the Center for Innovation in Sleep Self-Management (CISSM)

  • Provided informatics support for OPTIMISM (https://www.cissmpregnancystudy.net) and SIPA (https://depts.washington.edu/sipa) projects.
  • Developed end-user documentation, study protocols, and led training workshops on usability testing hardware, software, and methods including eye-tracking, think aloud, and video/speech annotation
  • Wrote a systematic review of health dialog systems and other artificial intelligence methods applied to healthcare.

Lead Software Developer

Sep 2018 – Present

  • Managed the development and deployment of two iOS applications (currently in beta release)
  • Designed and implemented an enterprise knowledge graph and predictive analytics engine for link prediction using Cypher Query Language
  • Delivered an ETL pipeline using Azure Data Factory to ingest health insurance claims into a Microsoft SQL data warehouse
  • Lead a five member Agile development team

Co-founder, CIO

Feb 2018 – Feb 2020

  • Built a clinical natural language understanding (NLU) service, HIPAA-compliant cloud infrastructure, and conversational experiences
  • Engaged with end-users and healthcare stakeholders to identify a business opportunity and build a sustainable business model
  • Completed two clinical trials at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Virginia Mason Hospital

NLM Pre-Doctoral Fellow

Sep 2015 – Sep 2018
Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, UW School of Medicine

  • Improved state-of-the-art models for health question answering
  • Finalist in the AMIA Student Design Challenge 2016 (2nd place) for the design of a shared decision support tool to improve patient-provider communication using an iterative design cycle that included stakeholder interviews, workflow/artifact analysis, and personas.
  • Built a hierarchical clustering tool and visual analytics interface for psychologists to view trends between clinical outcomes and patient chat message sequences during cognitive behavioral therapy interventions.


BIME 591 Artificial Intelligence Methods for Conversational Agents in Healthcare. Work repo

Recent Publications

A Systematic Review of Health Dialog Systems

Methods of Information in Medicine

A Wizard-of-Oz Interface and Persona-based Methodology for Collecting Health Counseling Dialog

ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Designing and Implementing Patient Centered Technologies for Sleep Self-Management

Western Institute of Nursing Conference