Lien Tran is an award-winning social impact designer who teaches and practices interaction design, human centered design, UI/UX, digital design, game design, and web design. She collaborates with local, national, and international organizations as well as students and faculty across the university on social impact and interdisciplinary projects including the Miller School of Medicine, School of Education, College of Arts & Sciences, School of Law, and School of Nursing and Health Studies. She is co-director of the New Experience Research & Design Lab (NERDLab) based out of the Interactive Media program.
Professor Tran is currently Senior Residential Faculty in Pearson Residential College. Previously, she was a member of the 2016 Faculty Learning Community (Office of the Provost), 2015-16 Faculty Fellow (Office of the Provost with Housing & Residential Life), and 2014-15 Engaged Faculty Fellow (Office of Civic Engagement).
Professor Tran's creative research centers around humanitarian and participatory design and includes social impact games, design advocacy, and web- and print-based information design. Non-profit partnerships include: Open Society Foundations, United Nations, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, National Police of Colombia, World Bank, Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Oxfam America, and Games for Change.
Before attending graduate school at Parsons School for Design at The New School where she received her MFA in Design & Technology, Professor Tran was a consultant at Accenture designing and developing business applications for private and public sector in Washington, D.C. and New York City metro areas. She also spent 2 years living in Kitakyushu, Japan, teaching English through the JET Program.
CIM 643 Designing Innovation
CIM 636 Collaborative Innovation Laboratory (CoLab)
CIM 471 Social Impact Games (civic course)
CIM 310 Intro to Game Design
CIM 211 Interaction Design
CIM 111 Web Lab
M.F.A. in Design & Technology, Parsons School of Design at The New School | New York, NY
B.B.A. in Information Technology (Minor in Computer Science), The College of William and Mary | Williamsburg, VA
systems design and systems thinking
game design, simulations
transformational (social impact) game design including for public health, environmental, and social justice issues
games and interactive resources for immigrant youth
designing for emerging technology and extended reality (VR, AR, MR, etc.)
mobile and web design
front-end web development
humanitarian and social impact design
design thinking and human-centered design
Select Awards and Recognition
McFarlane, S. J., Tran, L. (2016, October). An Evaluation of Games for Advocacy in Health and Human Rights. Top paper award at Meaningful Play. East Lansing, MI.
Cops and Rubbers: Best Overall Non-Digital Game Award. Meaningful Play 2014. East Lansing, MI. [Web Site]
Don Grey Cafe (mobile game promoting Lemon City Tea): 2016 Horizon Award, Gold for Mobile Apps: Game
Disseminating the Department of Community Service (DOCS) model website
- 2016 Davey Award, Silver for Charitable Organizations/Non-Profits
- 2016 W3 Award from the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, Silver
- 2016 Communicator Award, Award of Distinction for Websites – Charitable Organizations / Non-Profit
- 2015 Horizon Awards, Gold for Responsive/Mobile site
- 2015 Horizon Awards, Silver for University/School site
Carcioppolo, N., Wendorf, J., & Tran, L. (2015). Serious games, health, and organizing. In T. R. Harrison & E. A. Williams (Eds.), Organizations, communication, and health (pp. 240-257). New York: Routledge.
Select Invited Conference Presentation
Tran, L. (2017, February). Designing for AR/MR. Panel moderator, FilmGate Interactive, Coral Gables, FL.
Ewing, C., & Tran, L. (2016, May). Jumping on the Game Bandwagon: Top Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Presentation at Hacks/Hackers Connect: A Launchpad Event for News-Media Entrepreneurs, Miami-Dade College’s Idea Center, Miami, FL. | Link
Tran, L. (2015, March). Grow 2.0: Advancing the Small-Scale Farmer. Panel moderator for Clinton Global Initiative University meeting, Coral Gables, FL. [Link]
Ratinam, M., & Tran, L. (2013, August). Design and Games Workshop. Interactive workshops at the Caribbean Broadcasters Union (CBU) annual meeting on “The Business of Broadcasting in the Digital Age”, Georgetown, Guyana. [Link]
Tran, L. and Ratinam, M. (2013). Building Resilient Communities and Engaged Audiences. The Business of Broadcasting in the Digital Age. Georgetown, Guyana. [Web Site]
Tran, L. (2011). TechATState Serious Games conference. TechATState. Washington, D.C. [Web Site]
Select Peer-Reviewed Conference Presentations
Wendorf Muhamad, J. & Tran, L. (2017, May). Por Nuestras Calles: Participatory research and design of a game-based intervention. Paper presented at the 67th Annual International Communication Association Conference in San Diego, California.
McFarlane, S. J., Tran, L. (2016, October). An Evaluation of Games for Advocacy in Health and Human Rights. Top paper award, paper presented at Meaningful Play. East Lansing, MI.
Wendorf Muhamad, J., Tran, L., Villar, M. (2016, October). Participatory research and design across disciplines: Collaborative team processes and the development of a game-based commercial sexual exploitation of children prevention tool. Paper presented at Meaningful Play. East Lansing, MI.
Schaefer, A. N., Sabet, R. F., Tran, L., Gutman, L., Marques, D. S., Becker Herbst, R., & Aldarondo, E. (2016, September). “The immigrant children’s affirmative network and the role of university-community partnerships.” Award for poster presented at the National Latina/o Psychological Association. Orlando, FL.
Tran, L. (2015, November). “SCRUM techniques to improve communication and task management on collaborative projects.” Presented at 101th Annual National Communication Association Conference. Las Vegas, Nevada. Panel Title: Scrum: Embracing Opportunities for New Teaching Strategies for Managing Teams.
Tran, L. (2015, November)."Researching the Impact of Meeples: Does Communication Got Game?" Presented at 101th Annual National Communication Association Conference. Las Vegas, Nevada. Panel Title: Considerations for the Design and Cultural Creation of Social Impact Games.
Melillo, A., Papathomas, D., Habashi, A., Tran, L., Gandolfi, T., Kjeldsen, K., Brackman, G., Alawa, N., Roth, E., Taggart, A., O’Connell, M., Deshpande, A., & Mechaber, A. J. (2015, November). University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM) Department of Community Service (DOCS): sharing our model with medical schools to improve and expand service learning. Poster accepted to Association of American Medical Colleges’ Medical Education Meeting, Baltimore, MD.
Tran, L. (2015, October). Digital advocacy for the millennial generation: collaborative classroom partnerships that advocate for positive social change. Presentation at International Digital Media and Arts Association, Johnson City, TN.
Stoler, J., Ewing, C., Appiah Otoo, R., Tran, L., Adu, N.T.B., Nyoagbe, M., Nunoo, D.N.O. (2015, July). Tapping customers: A spatially explicit, open-source platform for crowdsourcing water service data in Ghana. Proceedings of the 38th WEDC International Conference: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services Beyond 2015: Improving Access and Sustainability, Loughborough, UK.
Tran, L. (2015, July). Humanitarian Games for International Social Impact: Guiding Principles for Collaboration and Design of Culturally-Competent Interactive Interventions. Presentation at Serious Play Conference, Pittsburgh, PA.
Tran, L. (2014, November). “Toma el Paso: An exploration of experiential game play for unaccompanied immigrant minors in the U.S.” Presented at 100th Annual National Communication Association Conference. Chicago, Illinois. Panel Title: Creative Methodologies Among Hyper-Vulnerable Latina/os.
Tran, L., Villar, M., & Wendorf, J. (2014, November). “Por Estas Calles” (“Through These Streets”). Presented at 100th Annual National Communication Association Conference. Chicago, Illinois. Panel Title: Creative Methodologies Among Hyper-Vulnerable Latina/os.
Tran, L., Lang, K., Carcioppolo, N., & Beyea, D. (2014, June). Role-Taking as an Advocacy Strategy for Policy Reform: A Comparative Analysis of Presentation Modes in Evoking Empathy and a Willingness to Act. Presentation at Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference, Madison, WI.
Tran, L., Carcioppolo, N., Colantonio, S., Ewing, C., Lang, K., Beyea, D., & Beecker, J. (2014, June). The empty comfort of vanity: assessing the effectiveness of an interactive game to increase skin cancer prevention outcomes. Poster presented at Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference, Madison, WI.
Wendorf, J., & Tran, L. (2014, April). Experiential role play: data games for social change in Colombia. Paper presented at Society of Latin American Studies, London, UK.
Tran, L. (2013, August). Cops & Rubbers: A game promoting advocacy and empathy in support of public health and human rights of sex workers. Paper presented at Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), Atlanta, GA.
Tran, L. (2013, August). Mechanics & Outcomes: Factors for communicating humanitarian messages with games. Presentation at Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), Atlanta, GA.
Tran, L. (2013, June). Safety Nets Simplified: Simulated Decision-Making in Volatile Developing Economies. Poster presented at Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference, Madison, WI.
Tran, L. (2013, March). Cops & Rubbers: A game promoting advocacy and empathy in support of public health and human rights of sex workers. Presentation at Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Washington, D.C.
Tran, L. (2012, June). Gaming the System: Reforming communication and legal literacy through gameplay. Poster presented at Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference, Madison, WI.
- Co-principal investigator for Navigating the Public Sculpture Program at the U, 2018 CREATE award (internal grant funded by Mellon Foundation)
- Principal Investigator for Dwell: An Interactive Tabletop Simulation Game Teaching How Poverty Impacts Health and Healthcare Access, 2017 Center for Communication, Culture, and Change grant
- Principal Investigator for Determining Effective Strategies for Crowdsourcing Neighborhood Water Quality Data in Accra, Ghana, 2016-17 Provost Research Award
- Investigator on sub-award for State of Florida grant to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center for its Firefighter Cancer Initiative, 2015 - present
- Principal Investigator, "Cops and Rubbers: Formal Evaluation & Training of Game-Based Advocacy Project", Open Society Foundations (Foundation to Promote Open Society), 2015
- Principal Investigator, "Games for the Caribbean Climate", Invoking the Pause, 2014
- Co-Principal Investigator, "Por Estas Calles", Miami Consortium for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 2014
- Principal Investigator, "Immigration Games", The New School's New Challenge, 2012