Sexting Panic Interview is Up!

Happy May Day! It is cold and rainy here in the Twin Cities, but despite that, this is a happy day nonetheless: an interview I conducted over a year ago with Dr. Amy Adele Hasinoff about her awesome book Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent, is now available for you to listen to on the FEMBOT Collective’s website (here).

It is one thing to read a book that alters your thinking, but another to actually get to discuss that book with the author. I had a wonderful time talking to Dr. Hasinoff, and if you are unfamiliar with her work, she maintains a great blog where you can learn a lot about her and the work that she does.

Enjoy the podcast!

The 2017 Doctoral Research Showcase

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.41.48 PMI was so excited to participate in this year’s Doctoral Research Showcase at the University of Minnesota. A number of other Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellows as well as Disciplinary Doctoral Fellows presented their work in poster format, and the task of translating a dissertation worth of research onto a poster proved to be quite challenging!

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.49.16 PM

My poster definitely was not the most beautiful at the showcase, and only touched on a few elements of the work I am doing, but I really enjoyed engaging with visitors who asked questions about the work and my goals.

I always enjoy connecting with people from other disciplines, and seeing how particular ideas do (or do not) translate. Also having the opportunity to talk about my work with people who are unfamiliar with communication and media studies, bioethics, or the critical theory I bring to the project is a fun – albeit challenging – way to practice making work “legible” to multiple audiences. Many of us can get caught up in using the rhetoric or lingo of our specific area of research, and my experiences today highlighted the importance of generating findings (and writing in such a way) that multiple audiences can enjoy and engage with.

How Patients Are Creating Medicine’s Future: From Citizen Science to Precision Medicine

On December 6th, 2016 the University of Minnesota’s Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences hosted a free and public lecture on the ways that the Internet and Big Data are causing transformations in science, medicine, and the creation and development of therapeutic techniques*.

The four panelists (Prof. Jason Bobe, MSc, Icahn Institute for Genomics & Multiscale Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Ernesto Ramirez, PhD, Director of Research & Development, Fitabase; Prof. Kingshuk Sinha, PhD, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota; Prof. Barbara Evans, PhD, JD, LLM, University of Houston Law Center) spoke for 15 minutes each, responded to questions, and the symposium ended with a full Q&A session with all the panelists.

All presentations were thought-provoking and highlighted new directions for consumer-driven and precision medicine. Yet I was troubled that none addressed the ways that resources (or should I say, a lack of resources) may affect whether an individual is able to participate in this realm, whether because of their finances, free time, Internet and/or smartphone (in)access, or an ability to code or develop software.

I asked the panelists this question (see the video below) at roughly one hour and forty-two minutes into the talk:

* Support for the Deinard Memorial Lecture Series on Law & Medicine comes from the Deinard family and the law firm of Stinson Leonard Street. This lecture series is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences; Center for Bioethics; and Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology.

Health 2.0’s WinterTech Conference

Last week was JP Morgan’s 35th annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CA. January 11th was also the one day Health 2.0 conference known as WinterTech, part of Health 2.0’s series of annual conferences, and one that focuses on trends and new directions for digital health investors.


The conference agenda.

The day began at 7 am, with an invite-only event for investors and technological innovators to meet and collaborate, and continued throughout the day* with a series of panels, one-on-one interviews with noted figures in the industry, and companies demonstrating the efficacy of their products.

One recurring theme was that change is imminent in the healthcare industry generally, and the Health 2.0 industry in particular as a result of Donald Trump’s election and the likely appointment of Tom Price as head of the Department of Health and Human Services.


We also discussed (and voted) upon the ways that the Affordable Care Act as well as Medicare are likely to experience drastic changes under this new administration. 

The unifying theme throughout the day amongst speakers, presentations, and panels was that when it comes to the most promising investments in the Health 2.0 industry, we ought to choose technologies that are designed with consumers and patients in mind, not those that are created for medical practitioners themselves. The emphasis was upon finding new ways of disrupting traditional healthcare models and industries that facilitate the ease of the user’s experience, not upholding the status quo.

*WinterTech’s full agenda may be accessed here.

$ex, $candals, and $tigmas


This isn’t about Kanye West or Kim Kardashian. This is about mediated depictions of mental illness, whether medically diagnosed or speculatively made by magazine writers and armchair psychiatrists. This is about conflating mental illness with madness, violence, and danger, the perpetuation of age-old stigmas, and media sensationalism.

I had thought (or at least hoped) that we were moving past stigmatizing people who experience mental distress and/or illness. But all we have to do is take a look at this cover from In Touch Weekly to see that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

The stigmatization of mental illness has serious, debilitating, and even life-threatening effects:

  • People of color, men, and those of lower socio-economic status tend not to seek mental health resources when needed;
  • Despite public campaigns seeking to de-stigmatize the use of mental health support by men, such as the National Institute of Mental Health’s “Real Men. Real Depression” campaign, which ran from 2003 to 2005, women continue to use mental health services more than men;
  • Research suggests that even if people of color and those with lower incomes do seek mental health services, the biases of practitioners themselves may present additional hurdles for them to be accepted as new patients.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year, and roughly 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, or 4.2%—will experience serious mental illness in a year that interferes with, or limits, one’s life activities.

If mental illness is as common as we are led to believe, then why does the stigmatization continue?

Much like sex, stigma sells. It screams scandal. 

And In Touch is in the business of making money. The magazine’s actions are shameful, and have likely inflicted damage upon those who are in need of mental health services.


Forbes: Most Employers Paying For Doctor Telemedicine Visits

Nearly 60% of the nation’s large employers now provide medical coverage for telemedicine , offering workers access to video consultations with physicians via smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

The number of such employers now covering telemedicine has jumped from about 30% last year as companies see an opportunity to save money and give quicker access to medical care, according to the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. The analysis, which comes amid the annual employer fall open enrollment period, draws from a sample of more than 2,500 companies with at least 10 employees.

The telemedicine consultation between physician and patient costs around $40 compared to an in-person office visit that can cost $125. Though coverage varies widely, Mercer data shows 75% of employers that offer telemedicine share the cost of the visit with their workers through a co-pay of generally around $25.”

Read more here.