Franziska (Fran) Burger is a fourth-year PhD-candidate in the Interactive Intelligence group.
After an internship at Mercedes Benz in Silicon Valley, in which she worked on human-machine interaction (HMI) in the specific use case of in-vehicle infotainment, she decided to shift focus from HMI in general to human-robot interaction (HRI) in particular. She followed the HRI track of the Artificial Intelligence Masters program at Radboud University Nijmegen. Her Master thesis project, studying the potential of a robot buddy to bond with diabetic children by way of self-disclosures, sparked her interest in the health care domain.
In her PhD research, she has taken a close look at the current technological state of the art of e-mental health for depression (first two years of the PhD), in which she reached the conclusion that e-mental health is not living up to the technological potential of the times. This is particularly interesting in light of meta-analyses having found that attrition rates in e-mental health for depression are generally high. In the second half of her PhD, Fran is therefore set on discovering whether increasing technologization of therapy can increase user motivation to engage with the e-mental health software. For this, she has chosen to focus on enhancing the thought recording task (a typical component of cognitive therapy) with a chatbot that provides motivational feedback. The entire PhD project is supervised by Willem-Paul Brinkman and Mark Neerincx and is conducted as part of the 4TU Humans & Technology research center.