Meet Soyoung

Jun 4, 2019

Our featured UW IPE and Team Science faculty member for June/July 2018 is Soyoung Kang, PhD.

Soyoung Kang, PhD is a full-time lecturer in the UW Mechanical Engineering department and executive director of Engineering Innovation in Health (EIH), a year-long design program in which undergraduate and graduate engineering students across disciplines partner with health professionals to develop technical solutions to pressing health challenges. She has been involved with EIH since Autumn 2017 when she started as the teaching assistant. She completed her doctoral studies in the Molecular Biophotonics Laboratory under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Liu. Her research focuses on multiplexed molecular imaging of disease biomarkers to enable the early detection of cancer and to guide the surgical resection of tumors.

In 2017, the EIH program partnered with the Institute for Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program and the UW Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education, Research & Practice to begin incorporating formal Team Science training into their curriculum. In 2018, Soyoung and the EIH program won the “Best Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Team Science Award.” This spring, Soyoung and the EIH received a $60,942 from the Herbert B. Jones Foundation to kick start a new Summer Incubator for teams of undergraduate and graduate engineering and business students passionate about gaining hands-on entrepreneurial experience and to de-risk the startup opportunity of bringing promising health solutions to market.

“Soyoung has been an enthusiastic and creative collaborator as we’ve developed and integrated team science training into the EIH course—her insights have helped us to tailor the team science content and delivery to best meet the needs of EIH student teams” says Erin Blakeney, one of the Team Science Faculty who has been the primary liaison with the EIH teaching team.

Soyoung and the EIH teaching team envision expanding their program further within the College of Engineering, the greater UW, the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), and with other Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Programs at universities across the country.

We interviewed Soyoung to learn more about her work with the EIH Program and our ITHS Team Science training initiative. Read our interview with Soyoung below.

CHSIE: How and why did you become involved with Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Team Science training?

Soyoung: As the Engineering Innovation in Health course has been growing to accommodate diverse student teams across disciplines and academic levels addressing complex health challenges, there has been a pressing need to develop team competencies. Professor Jonathan Posner recognized this early on and partnered with the ITHS Team Science faculty in 2017 to address this need. Since I joined the EIH teaching team in Fall 2018, I have been working closely with the Team Science group (Erin Blakeney, Brenda Zierler, Nicole Summerside, Jennifer Sprecher, and Laurel Barchet) to provide tailored team science training to the student-clinician teams. We have co-developed the EIH curriculum and implemented four team science training modules each quarter (total twelve this academic year), as well as conducted the evaluation and assessment in improving team efficiency and effectiveness. Erin Blakeney and I intend to submit this work for publication in the summer of 2019, along with a toolkit of team science training resources.

CHSIE: What do you believe are the benefits of Team Science training?

Soyoung: The team experience can be the “make or break” force behind meeting goals and completing deliverables. Team Science training empowers teams to identify and overcome conflicts in a psychologically safe and productive manner. With the implementation of Team Science training in EIH this year, we have seen project teams move more efficiently through design iterations, thereby enabling early de-risking of prototype solutions. Moreover, and more importantly, students have fun and enjoy working together and are more interested in continuing the project together beyond EIH.

CHSIE: What has been the most memorable experience or highlight of co-leading the EIH program?

Soyoung: What I love about co-leading the EIH program with Team Science is getting to work with such a well-functioning team that practices what they preach – establishing psychological safety within the team and assuming positive intent. This means we can explore and build on creative and innovative ideas and minimize risk-factors early on in order to move effectively and efficiently towards a final product aimed at improving course content and the student experience in the program. For example, this year with the support and input from the entire EIH teaching team (including the Team Science faculty, Jonathan Posner, Jonathan Liu, Eric Seibel, and Katrina Henrikson), we were able to establish and secure funds to foster cross-campus collaboration with the Foster School of Business (VentureWell Faculty Grant) and to kickstart an EIH summer incubator for students in need of further resources to continue projects beyond the academic year (Herbert B. Jones Foundation Grant). It has been a collaborative effort across the UW campus, made possible with a well-functioning team, to enhance these real-world opportunities for students to deliver technical solutions to pressing health challenges.

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For more information about the Engineering Innovation in Health (EIH) Program, visit their website at Clinicians interested in learning about how to submit a healthcare challenge to build working prototype solutions can find out more about getting involved at Clinical project applications are being accepted until August 1, 2019 for the 2019-2020 academic year.

For more information about the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS), visit their website at