177 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Maciej Kos is a PhD candidate in the Personal Health Informatics program at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science, advised by Professor Misha Pavel. Maciej is dedicated to researching how humans make medical decisions, and he is interested in improving decision-making by conjoining his knowledge of behavioral economics with findings in health psychology and information science.
Maciej started his graduate education studying economics, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and E-business from the University of Gdansk and his Master of Science degree in Economics of Science and Innovation from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. Before coming to Northeastern, Maciej earned his Master of Arts degree in Information Science from the University of Michigan, where he developed his knowledge of behavioral science and decision-making.
Thus far at Northeastern, Maciej contributes to publications and is a member of the Consortium on Technology for Proactive care.
- MA in Information Science, University of Michigan
- MS in Economics of Science and Innovation, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics – Spain
- PGD in Internet Applications and Services, Gdansk University of Technology – Poland
- BA, MA in Economics and E-business, University of Gdansk – Poland
- Hometown: Gdynia, Poland
- Field of Study: Personal Health Informatics
- PhD Advisor: Misha Pavel
What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?
My graduate career began in the field of economics because I was intrigued by its use of analytical tools to rigorously model human behavior. After working for four years as an economist, I realized that to better model how individuals make decisions, the theories traditionally used in this field should be employed in conjunction with findings in psychology and information science. Consequently, I moved to these fields and discovered the area of judgment and medical decision-making, which completely fascinated me. After getting a masters degree in information science with a focus on behavioral science and decision-making, I decided to apply novel computational approaches to analyzing, modeling and predicting human preferences and choices. This brought me to Northeastern’s Personal Health Informatics doctoral program, which is a primary destination for research in this area.
What are your research interests?
In general, I am interested in learning how we can help individuals make decisions that are more consistent with their long-term health goals. In particular, I would like to understand:
- How we can use objective, multi-dimensional, context and physiological data to detect or predict the onset of highly intensive emotions. This is important because individuals in such states often make decisions that are not in their best interests.
- How we can use data visualizations to amplify patients’ cognition, help them derive more insight from health data, and – consequently – aid those individuals in making better informed decisions.
By combining decision-making models with recent findings in health behavior studies and personal health informatics, and by using evidence-based methods from social science, medicine, and design science, I hope to provide a deeper understanding of behavior change interventions and produce a generalizable theory to inform the design of persuasive healthcare technologies.
What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?
There is one problem that has been on my mind for the last few years. Currently, we are experiencing a rapid progress in medicine with new treatments and screening technologies being created at a very fast pace. Modern technology enables us to provide patients with information about their risk of developing certain diseases like breast cancer or diabetes. Whether or not a given individual actually develops the disease depends not only on genetic risk, but also on environmental and behavioral factors such as pollution, diet, physical activity, etc. In other words, having this information gives patients an opportunity to minimize the chance of developing certain diseases in the future. Paradoxically – mainly due to psychological factors – many people prefer not to know that information. I would like to address this problem by understanding the role of emotions in how we interact with personal health technologies with a goal of reducing the amount of unnecessary pain and suffering that often results from decisions driven by fear or anxiety.
What do you find most interesting?
As a scientist I should probably not admit that but science often feels like magic. When designing your own experiments you often create new techniques based on existing – often untested – theories. Consequently, you are never completely sure whether they will work; after all, you are the first person doing it. Then you implement them, run the study and…they actually do work! To me this is often feels like what magic would. It is also hard to describe the rush you get from having statistically significant results.
What are your research/career goals, going forward?
I would like to continue doing my research, ideally at one of the top academic institutions in my field.
Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?
I grew up in Gdynia, Poland during the transition from communist state to democracy, quite close to where Lech Walesa led negotiations between shipyard workers and the communist regime. This experience imbued me with a deep appreciation of human rights activism and peaceful dissent as means of dissolving oppression.