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/play2PREVENT Lab, which focuses on the development and evaluation of video game interventions for health prevention and promotion, behavior change, and education in adolescents and young adults. Dr. Hieftje is also Director of the play4REAL Lab at the center, which focuses on the use of 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, sexual health, bystander intervention, LGBTQ bullying, and school climate.
Dr. Hieftje received a gift from Oculus to fully develop and evaluate smokeSCREEN VR, a VR videogame focused on JUUL/e-cigarette prevention in teens. With her team at the play4REAL Lab, she will conduct a randomized controlled trial with 230 teens. As part of the trial, the team will explore how VR can be leveraged to create the feeling of social pressure in simulated high-risk social situations involving peers.