Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Preventive Medicine

Current Fellows



Rachel Kornfield, PhD

Rachel Kornfield is a health communication researcher specializing in applying emerging communication technologies to improve mental health. Rachel completed her PhD in Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation work examined online peer-to-peer support forums for depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions. Specifically, these studies asked how design elements of these forums (e.g., anonymity, privacy) facilitate or hinder therapeutic self-disclosure and social support exchange. Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University, Rachel’s current research focuses on supporting individuals with depression and anxiety through online communication with peers, coaches, and automated conversational agents.


Ashley Knapp, PhD

Ashley completed her MA and PhD at the University of Arkansas and initial postdoctoral training at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Her research interests involve leveraging emerging technologies to study anxiety and substance misuse vulnerability in adolescents and developing effective prevention programs designed to reduce the incidence of anxiety and substance use di​sorders. Her dissertation focused on the development and evaluation of a brief, anxiety-focused "preintervention" for at-risk youth in the context of a NIMH-funded F31, and her postdoctoral training at Dartmouth College broadly focused on addiction and emerging technologies. Her current training at Northwestern is focused on digital mental health, with emphasis on integration of emerging technologies into the development, dissemination, and implementation of behavioral interventions.​


Kathryn Ringland

Kathryn E. Ringland, PhD

Kathryn E. Ringland received her PhD in Informatics from the University of California Irvine. Kathryn was an ARCS Scholar and the recipient of the US Department of Education GAANN Fellowship. Her research interests include studying and designing technology for mental health using a sociotechnical approach. Her dissertation work explores how an online community for children with autism uses various social media, including the popular Minecraft game, to support socialization. She is interested in understanding how neurodiverse individuals leverage social media and other applications as assistive technology in their online and offline interactions. As a Postdoctoral Training Fellow at Northwestern University, Kathryn’s research involves designing tools for digital mental health; in particular, applications for assisting and supporting those with depression and anxiety.