Kimberly Hieftje, PhD, is a Research Scientist at the Yale School of Medicine and the Deputy Director of the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games, which focuses on the development and evaluation of videogame interventions for health prevention and promotion, behavior change, and education in adolescents and young adults. Dr. Hieftje is also the Deputy Director of the play2PREVENT Lab and Director of the play4REAL Lab at the center, which focuses on the use of VR/AR/XR in games. She is currently involved in the development and testing of several health behavior change videogames and has published frequently on developing, evaluating, and implementing serious games. She has worked on games that have focused on topics including JUUL/e-c-cigarette prevention, tobacco use prevention, risk reduction in adolescents, HIV/STI prevention, HIV/STI testing, empowering young women around sexual health, bystander intervention, LGBTQ bullying, school climate, and increasing math skills in first graders.
Most recently, Dr. Hieftje received a gift from Oculus to fully develop and evaluate smokeSCREEN VR, a VR videogame intervention focused on JUUL/e-cigarette prevention in teens developed by the play4REAL Lab in partnership with PreviewLabs, Inc. Created for the Oculus Go, the game uses voice recognition software to allow players to practice refusing peers in real time. With her team at the play4REAL Lab, she will conduct a randomized controlled trial with 230 teens, following them for six months to see if playing smokeSCREEN VR impacted their behaviors, attitudes, intentions, and social perceptions of JUUL/e-cigarettes. Additionally, the team will explore how VR can be leveraged to create the feeling of social pressure in simulated high-risk social situations involving peers.
Dr. Hieftje is also a K12 Scholar in the Yale Implementation Science program (YSIS), where she will collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data from teachers and students on the implementation of a web-based videogame intervention focused on tobacco use prevention with the goal of better understanding the factors associated with successful implementation of videogames in schools.
Education & Training
- PhDIndiana University (2009)
- MSIndiana University (2007)
- BSIndiana University (1999)