Alan Au

Alan Au

Technologist, academic, games for health advocate. Polymath and professional skeptic. Mentat.

Greater Seattle Area
Health, Wellness and Fitness

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Alan Au's Overview


500+ connections

Alan Au's Summary

My background includes a mixture of computer programming, user experience research, and a solid understand of persuasive technologies like games and simulation. To supplement my skill set, I am also a registered patent agent and game industry journalist. I want to combine my diverse skills together with my specialized domain experience to help multidisciplinary experts collaborate on persuasive technology projects.

Specialties: biomedical informatics, intellectual property rights, software engineering, user-centered design, game journalism

Alan Au's Experience

Postdoctoral scholar

University of Washington

Educational Institution; 10,001+ employees; Higher Education industry

June 2013Present (1 year 4 months)

Scientific advisor


May 2013August 2013 (4 months) Bellevue, WA

Health technology startup developing a mobile application to help women ages 25-50 manage their stress and anxiety. Conducted usability testing, assembled the technical specification, and managed the technical team through the initial phase of the project in a volunteer advisory capacity.

Graduate Student

UW Medicine

Government Agency; 10,001+ employees; Hospital & Health Care industry

September 2004March 2013 (8 years 7 months)

Conducted usability and participatory design research to evaluate and improve the collection of clinical information during cardiac arrest emergencies.

Staff Writer

Sole Proprietorship; 11-50 employees; Internet industry

July 2006July 2012 (6 years 1 month)

Authored products review, conducted developer interviews, and tracked ongoing market trends in the 60-billion dollar per year videogame industry.

Freelance Editor

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; Education Management industry

November 2006January 2008 (1 year 3 months)

As a freelance contractor, provided copyediting, content validation, and solution checking for college level mathematics textbooks covering algebra, trigonometry, and basic statistics.

Chief Technologist


January 2004September 2004 (9 months)

Chief technologist at a small 4-person software startup building web-enabled diagramming software. Selected development tools and technologies, including source control and bug-tracking tools, development languages, and web communication standards.

Scientific Programmer

Incyte Corporation

Public Company; 501-1000 employees; INCY; Pharmaceuticals industry

July 1999January 2003 (3 years 7 months)

Designed and implemented software to prepare patents filings using PERL, including an object-oriented data model for preparing and tracking gene sequences. This improved companywide efficiency by automating the patent process for genomic sequence data, securing intellectual property rights prior to commercial release both in the U.S. and overseas.

Software Engineer

Lotus cc:Mail

July 1997June 1999 (2 years)

As part of the cc:Mail sustaining engineering division, implemented bug fixes and custom improvements to the database tools and email routing software using C and C++. These post-release revisions were implemented to ensure favorable relations with major corporate partners using the cc:Mail product, including Hewlett-Packard, Deloitte & Touche, Disney, and Pfizer.

Alan Au's Languages

  • English

    (Native or bilingual proficiency)
  • French

    (Limited working proficiency)
  • Cantonese

    (Elementary proficiency)

Alan Au's Publications

  • Visualization and analytics tools for infectious disease epidemiology: A systematic review.

    • Journal of Biomedical Informatics
    • April 2014
    Authors: Lauren Carroll, Alan Au, Landon Todd Detwiler, Tsung-Chieh Fu, Ian Painter, Neil Abernethy

    A myriad of new tools and algorithms have been developed to help public health professionals analyze and visualize the complex data used in infectious disease control. To better understand approaches to meet these users' information needs, we conducted a systematic literature review focused on the landscape of infectious disease visualization tools for public health professionals, with a special emphasis on geographic information systems (GIS), molecular epidemiology, and social network analysis.

  • Games Beyond Entertainment: Some Thought Required

    • University of Washington Critical Gaming Project
    • October 7, 2013
    Authors: Alan Au

    Game creators have a duty to ensure that the messages embedded within games are doing more good than harm. Game players have an equally important responsibility to recognize those messages and consider if they are worth embracing. Certainly we can continue to play games for entertainment, but whether we realize it or not, we are also learning things as we play. The things we learn help to determine which values we carry forward into a society where games play a prominent role.

  • Games for Health: Past, Present, and Future?

    • Games for Health Journal
    • December 19, 2012
    Authors: Alan Au

    This article provides a review of selected past and present games for health. This will highlight some existing games for health and examine the relationship between health content and game technology. Because of this relationship, new technology trends may suggest future approaches to the application of videogame-based health interventions.

  • Home Field Advantage

    • Flash of Steel
    • January 9, 2012
    Authors: Alan Au

    Professional sports teams are intimately familiar with the concept of the home-field advantage, but what exactly is that advantage? It turns out that history is littered with examples of how being at home can be advantageous, whether in a war against nations, at the local stadium, or in a good-natured contest around the dining room table.

  • Everything Good Old is New Again

    • The Escapist
    • June 7, 2011
    Authors: Alan Au

    Nostalgia is a funny thing; despite the low-resolution graphics and the chintzy music, some classic games have a magical hold over us that modern production values can't replace. If your old favorite was based on the PC, you have a friend in Good Old Games (GOG).

  • Misadventures in Roleplaying

    • The Escapist
    • March 2, 2010
    Authors: Alan Au

    Together with his brother, JPM found new and creative ways to exploit the rules of Ultima and do things that shouldn't even be possible. Along the way, he discovered that entire walkthroughs could be built around his misadventures in computer roleplaying games, breathing new life into old games and creating new stories which the designers never intended.

  • Designing Religion

    • The Escapist
    • June 9, 2009
    Authors: Alan Au

    A game of Civilization is not meant to be a faithful model of human history, and so using the concept of religion is a bit of a gamble. After all, how can something so directly connected to actual human history be represented in a game about changing the course of society?

  • Curriculum-Driven Simulation for Percutaneous Suprapubic Catheter Placement

    • The Journal of Urology
    • April 2009
    Authors: Josephine Hidalgo-Tamola, Alan Au, Thomas Lendvay

    The demand for improved patient outcomes has led to innovative ways of augmenting surgical
    education. Simulation education involving cognitive curricula coupled with technical skills training has become a mandated aspect of surgical training. Although various high and low fidelity simulators exist for urological procedures such as percutaneous renal access or cystoscopy, no training modules exist for teaching urology residents the pathophysiology of acute urinary retention (AUR) and the use of percutaneous suprapubic catheter (SPT) placement.

  • Button-Mashing Monkeys

    • The Escapist
    • July 22, 2008
    Authors: Alan Au

    Many aspiring game developers see testing as a way to get a foot in the door, a stepping stone on the career path to a "real" game development position. But others have a much more dismal view of game testing, envisioning it as little more than a room full of button-mashing monkeys.

  • X-Com: The Truth is Out There

    • The Escapist
    • March 4, 2008
    Authors: Alan Au

    The X-Com franchise as a whole is plagued with mediocre sales, tepid reviews and general apathy from gamers who continue to rave about the original almost 15 years after its release. This strange dynamic underscores one of the great mysteries in the modern gaming world: What is X-Com's secret to success?

  • The Penny Arcade Expo: View from Beneath the Black Shirt

    • The Escapist
    • November 27, 2007
    Authors: Alan Au

    Running PAX is a daunting task, reserved for a handful of full - time Penny Arcade (PA) staffers and supported by 300 high-powered volunteers. Sporting long-sleeved black shirts with "Enforcer" emblazoned prominently on the back, they are the lifeblood that makes the PAX machine function.

  • Fansy the Famous Bard: How One Player Ruined EverQuest

    • The Escapist
    • October 23, 2007
    Authors: Alan Au

    Once in a blue moon, a player will make a lasting mark on a game and influence the social consciousness of the entire industry. Fansy the Famous Bard is one of those people, and this is the story about how a server with no rules made an exception for one person.

  • Good, Bad, I'm the Guy with the Gun

    • The Escapist
    • August 28, 2007
    Authors: Alan Au

    When it comes to saving the world, the solution is sometimes worse than the problem. As a result, modern game heroes are often no better than the bad guys.

  • Differences among cell-structure ontologies: FMA, GO, & CCO

    • AMIA Annual Symposium 2006 Proceedings
    • November 2006
    Authors: Alan Au, Xiang Li, John Gennari

    When different groups create models or ontologies of the same knowledge domain, this creates challenges for knowledge sharing. To identify these challenges, we compare cellular structure as modeled by the Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA), the Gene Ontology (GO), and the Cell Component Ontology (CCO).

  • Games and Participatory Culture

    • Flash of Steel
    • October 30, 2006
    Authors: Alan Au

    Welcome to the age of participatory culture. With increased access to technological resources, people are discovering that they can create as well as consume. Of course, this is nothing new. However, the difference is that people now have unprecedented access to development tools and content creation utilities.

Alan Au's Projects

  • Mobile Serious Games Roundup

    • May 2011 to Present
    Team Members: Alan Au, Ben Sawyer

    Mobile applications are everywhere, and some of them are serious games! This presentation will help you find what's out there and understand how they're being used.

  • Game Related Illnesses and Injuries

    • May 2009 to Present
    Team Members: Alan Au, Ben Sawyer

    There are many illnesses and injuries commonly associated with videogames, but where's the line between fact and fiction? This presentation clarifies the facts and dispels the myths about this increasingly popular pastime.

  • Trauma Glass

    • September 2013 to Present
    Team Members: Alan Au, Heather Evans, Michal Galdzicki, Rafael J. Grossmann, MD, FACS, Thomas Varghese Jr.

Alan Au's Skills & Expertise

  1. Informatics
  2. Software Engineering
  3. Intellectual Property
  4. Bioinformatics
  5. Perl
  6. Technical Writing
  7. Machine Learning
  8. Genomics
  9. Programming
  10. C++
  11. Java
  12. Edtech
  13. Social Media
  14. User-centered Design
  15. Gamification
  16. Statistics
  17. CSS
  18. Data Mining
  19. Computer Science
  20. Data Analysis
  21. Unix
  22. HTML
  23. MySQL
  24. Video Games
  25. Product Management
  26. JavaScript
  27. Python
  28. Algorithms
  29. SQL
  30. C
  31. Start-ups
  32. Human Computer Interaction
  33. R
  34. Linux
  35. Databases
  36. XML
  37. Usability Testing

View All (37) Skills View Fewer Skills

Alan Au's Education

University of Washington School of Medicine

PhD, Biomedical Informatics


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Scientiae Baccalaureus, Computer Science/Electrical Engineering


minor in Biology

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