Michael Murray, a member of the Class of 2011 and Wei Zhang, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, developed the mood chart application in a smartphone programming course for undergraduates at the University. Murray and Zhang developed the application in cooperation with The Cheryl T. Herman Foundation, which is dedicated to assisting individuals who suffer from mood disorders.
In the “Mobile Application Development” course, which is co-taught by faculty members Patrick Flynn and Christian Poellabauer and teaching fellow Christopher Miller of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, students develop a variety of applications for mobile devices such as Android phones, iPhones and iPads. The goal is to expose talented undergraduates to hands-on experience with state-of-art technologies, allowing them to develop mobile solutions in such areas as healthcare, social networks, biometrics and education. Students work closely with industry collaborators to ensure that the developed applications meet practical needs. In addition to developing applied engineering and computing tools, students also practice their skills in project management, oral and written communication, and team work, thereby preparing them for careers in wireless networks and mobile systems.
Murray and Zhang worked with the Herman Foundation to take the best of current mood charting tolls and added powerful features so individuals may track when they took their medication and how their daily activities may impact their disorder. Features such as a daily medical alert sends users a text message reminding them when to take their medicine and the proper dosage and a Buddy Alert sends automatic messages to clinicians or family members when the charting indicates potential problems.
“This project is a concrete example of how mobile technology can be used to improve the health and wellbeing of users by, for example, encouraging healthy habits, increasing the adherence to medical regimens, and taking advantage of social support networks and media,” Flynn and Poellabauer said.
The Cheryl T. Herman Charitable Trust was established in 2006 in memory of Cheryl T. Herman to support continued progress in understanding and treating mood disorders through research and under the direction of her physician, John Zajecka. The trust actively funds research in areas such as treatment resistant depression, the expansion of the current state approach to diagnosis, treatment and expanding educational endeavors of bipolar disorder and related illnesses. The work of the foundation is to achieve Cheryl’s wish to allow others to go through life without the unnecessary suffering of a mood disorder and to experience the same passion for life that she exemplified.