Shwetak Patel & Julie Kientz
Shwetak Patel & Julie Kientz

Established in 2020 with $1,000,000 through the generosity of professors Shwetak N. Patel and Julie A. Kientz, in connection with the acquisition of UW spinout Senosis Health by Google, and leveraging matching funds from the Paul G. Allen Professorship Matching Program

Thinking outside of the box and applying a broad definition to computing is what drives Shwetak and Julie’s research. The professorship held by Shwetak - the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Professorship - was essential to supporting much of the research that led to the Senosis Health startup. Shwetak and Julie are delighted that the acquisition of Senosis Health allows them to make the same opportunity available to others. They also recognize the risk the UW took by both of them as faculty despite their unique approach to research and impact at the time.

Senosis Health logoShwetak and Julie were both hired as faculty at the UW in 2008, focusing on the application of computing to solve important problems in society. They each took a unique approach to research but are ultimately solving the same big problems of health and health disparities, accessibility, and sustainability through computing. They have a daughter Maya (born in 2012) and son Rohan (born in 2015).

Shwetak is the son of Naran and Kusum Patel and brother of Prof. Shrayesh Patel and Dr. Shweta Patel. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from India in the 1970s. Shwetak was born in Selma, Alabama, went to high school in Birmingham, Alabama, and earned his Bachelor's and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2003 and 2008. At the time of this gift he is the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Shwetak’s work has always focused on the application of computing to socially relevant problems like health and sustainability. While a professor at UW, he received the MacArthur “Genius” Award, a Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), a Sloan Fellowship, a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, an MIT TR-35 award, and the ACM Prize in Computing. Much of Shwetak’s work involves the translation of basic science research to society through his entrepreneurial activities. Shwetak was a co-founder of a home energy monitoring company called Zensi (acquired by Belkin in 2010), a low-power home wireless sensing company called SNUPI Technologies (acquired by Sears in 2015), and a mobile health company called Senosis Health (acquired by Google in 2017).

Julie is the daughter of Carol and Thomas Kientz and sister of Jeremy Kientz. She was born in Marion, Ohio where she lived through high school. She attended the University of Toledo, receiving a B.S. in Computer Science & Engineering in 2002, and during that time had internships at UC Berkeley, Argonne National Laboratory, and Compaq Computers. She then went on to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received her Ph.D. in Computer Science, with a focus on human-computer interaction. At the time of this gift her research focuses on the design and evaluation of novel computing applications to support health, education, and families. Julie is currently Professor & Chair of the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She was named an MIT Innovator Under 35 in 2013, received an NSF CAREER award in 2009, has been awarded 8 Best Paper awards, and is the only professor in the College of Engineering to win both the Faculty Research (2014) and Faculty Teaching (2019) Innovator awards. She is also a co-founder of BrightSteps, a technology startup commercializing her research on early childhood developmental screening.

Shwetak, Julie, and their children enjoy traveling, hiking, snow sports, volunteering, and playing games together.

It is the Donors’ preference that this professorship support individuals who are committed to diversity-related work and whose record of research, teaching, service, and/or outreach reflects a commitment to diversity and equal opportunity.

Additional information is available on the blog post announcing the establishment of the professorship.