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Ian S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Texas Tech University


Mental Health, User Interface, User Experience, Public Health, Business, Entrepreneurship


My name is Ian Stark, and I use technology to find creative solutions for complex problems. I am a professor in user experience and user interfaces, where I specialize in the science of cognition (how people think, and why). Previously, I earned master's degrees in health science and mass communication. Over the past ten years, I've worked with groups like the Centers for Disease Control, the Global Foundation for Community Health, and the United Nations toward improving mental health policies and medical practices. For my "hobby" (so to speak), I run StarKrug, a research company that develops technology in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. We've received numerous grants from universities, industry partners, and the National Science Foundation to support the development of projects ranging from improved healthcare diagnostic tools to innovative applications of artificial intelligence. We also have an education division that offers certificates in disruptive technology, intercultural communication, and a few other essential skills.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Changes in Public Perception of COVID-19 Pandemic

How has public sentiment about COVID-19 changed since the beginning of the Biden administration? This project would analyze a selection of popular threads and comments in the social media community /r/coronavirus, seeking to identify thematic changes and content exemplars through the period of executive transition to the present. This research would be beneficial for public health advocacy, science communication, and political organizing.

Impacts of Social Media Communities on Mental Health

How does participation in online mental health communities (e.g. subreddits, Facebook groups, etc.) impact one's actual mental health? In other words, we know that social media use in general can be detrimental to mental health, at least at extremes, but how does that change with participation in groups specifically dedicated to health management? This project would be beneficial for mental health promotion, clinical psychological practice, and mental healthcare management.

Applications of Machine Learning in Graphic Design

How can we use computers to create art? From graphical user interfaces to beautiful landscape paintings, there are compositional patterns in all types of art. Using machine learning tools on massive art databases, we can find and apply those patterns to create art that is more efficient and perhaps even more creative than any singular human could ever achieve on their own. This project would be beneficial for video game development, corporate graphic design, and digital art innovation.

Coding skills

Most significant languages to varying degrees of proficiency

Teaching experience

I have 8 years of teaching experience at the high school and undergraduate levels. I have mentored a wide variety of student research projects, most of which have gone on to be presented or published at major national venues. I also operate a highly successful college/career advising practice.


Work experience

StarKrug Research and Development (2016 - Current)
Chief Innovation Officer
Studio E Productions (2020 - 2021)
Marketing Director
RAM Media (2017 - 2020)
Sales Manager
Cherry Creek Radio (2013 - 2016)
Audio-Video Production Technician


Angelo State University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2018)
Advertising and Public Relations
Angelo State University
MA Master of Arts (2020)
Media Psychology
Angelo State University
MBA Master of Business Administration (2020)
Healthcare Management
Texas Tech University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
User Experience and User Interfaces

Completed Projects

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