Ph.D. Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison B.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community. Her research and teaching focus on underserved populations, including populations that are racial/ethnic minorities, are of low socioeconomic status or are living with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Her work draws heavily on community engagement and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), among others. She has testified before Congress on the topic of health equity for the disability community and received the Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) for her pioneering work in creating and developing the subdiscipline of patient ergonomics.  

Among other appointments, she serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of People with Disabilities, on PCORI’s Patient Engagement Advisory Panel, and as a member of the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Health Equity Expert Work Group. Dr. Valdez also currently serves as an Associate Editor for Ergonomics, the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) Open, and Human Factors in Healthcare. She has previously served on the AHRQ Director’s Roundtable on Patient Safety, as Chair of HFES Internal Affairs Division, and in multiple advisory roles for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She is the founder and president of Blue Trunk Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for people with chronic health conditions, disabilities, and age-related conditions to travel. Dr. Valdez herself lives with multiple chronic health conditions and disabilities, which have and continue to influence her research, teaching, and advocacy. She has been quoted in publications ranging from Politico to Teen Vogue.


  • American Medical Informatics Association Samantha Adams Best Paper Award, Honorable Mention 2022
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award 2021
  • University of Virginia Collaborative Excellence in Public Service Award 2020
  • University of Virginia Excellence in Public Service Award 2019
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Bentzi Karsh Early Career Service Award 2018
  • University of Wisconsin Alumni Association Forward Under Forty Award 2018

Research Interests

  • Human Factors Engineering
  • Health Systems Engineering
  • Consumer Health IT
  • Culturally Informed Design
  • Co-Design
  • Inclusive Design
  • Mixed Methods
  • Health Disparities
  • Community-Based Participatory Research

Selected Publications

  • "Structural Ableism—Essential Steps for Abolishing Disability Injustice." New England Journal of Medicine, 388(20), 1827–1829. 2023 ABS Valdez, R.S., Swenor, B.K.
  • "Designing Mobile Health to Align with the Social Determinants of Health". Frontiers in Digital Health, 5, 1193920. 2023 ABS Rogers, C.C., Jang, S.S., Tidwell, W., Shaughnessy, S., Milburn, J., Hauck, F.R., Williams, I.C., Valdez, R.S.
  • "Access to Healthcare Among US Adult Refugees: A Systematic Qualitative Review." Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 2023 ABS Ho, C. H., Denton, A. H., Blackstone, S. R., Saif, N., MacIntyre, K., Ozkaynak, M., Valdez, R. S
  • "Engaging the Disability Community in Informatics Research: Rationales and Practical Steps." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 29(11), 1989-1995. 2022. ABS Valdez, R.S., Lyon, S.E., Wellbeloved-Stone, C., Collins, M., Rogers, C.C., Cantin-Garside, K.D., Fortes, D.G., Kim, C., Desai, S.S., Keim-Malpass, J., Kushalnagar, R
  • "Provocations for Reimagining Informatics Approaches to Health Equity." Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 31(1), 15-19. 2022. ABS Valdez, R.S., Ancker, J.S., Veinot, T.C
  • "What Makes a Home? Designing Home Personas to Represent the Homes of Families Caring for Children with Medical Complexity." Applied Ergonomics. 2022 ABS Barton, H.J., Pflaster, E., Loganathar, S., Werner, A., Tarfa, A., Wilkins, D., Ehlenbach, M.L., Katz, B., Coller, R.J., Valdez, R.S., Werner, N.E.
  • "Ensuring Full Participation of People with Disabilities in an Era of Telehealth." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2021. ABS Valdez, R.S., Rogers, C.C., Claypool, H., Trieshmann, L., Frye, O., Wellbeloved-Stone, C., Kushalnagar, P.
  • "Informatics-enabled Citizen Ccience to Advance Health Equity."Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2021. ABS Valdez, R.S., Detmer, D.E., Bourne, P., Kim, K.K., Austin, R., McCollister, A., Rogers, C.C., Waters-Wick, K.C.
  • "Designing Consumer Health Information Technology to Support Biform and Articulation Work: A Qualitative Study of Diet and Nutrition Management as Patient Work." JMIR Human Factors. 2021. ABS Rogers, C.C., Moutinho Jr, T.J., Liu, X., Valdez, R.S.
  • “Understanding the Experiences of Self-injurious Behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Monitoring Technology Design." Journal of the American Informatics Association. 2021. ABS Cantin, K., Nussbaum, M., White, S., Kim, S., Kim, C.D., Fortes, D., Valdez, R.S.
  • "Reimagining Community-based Research and Action in Human Factors: A Dialogue Across Disciplines." Advancing Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice through Human Systems Engineering. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group. 2019. ABS Valdez, R.S., Edmunds, D.
  • "Citizen Science to Further Precision Medicine: From Vision to Implementation." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association Open. 2019. ABS Petersen C., Austin, R., Backonja, U., Campos, H., Chung, A., Hekler, E., Hsueh, P., Kim, K., Pho, A., Salmi, L., Valdez, R.S.
  • "Ethics in Health Research Using Social Media." In J. Bian, Z. He, X. Hu (Eds.), Social Web and Health Research: Benefits, Limitations, and Best Practices. Springer. 2019. ABS Valdez, R. S. & Keim-Malpass, J.
  • "Uncovering the Invisible Patient Work System Through a Case Study of Breast Cancer Self-Management." Ergonomics, 1-16. 2018. ABS Gorman, R. K., Wellbeloved-Stone, C. A., & Valdez, R. S.
  • “Using Participatory Action Research to Develop Community-Based Initiatives to Mitigate Challenges to Chronic Disease Management in an African American Community living in Public Housing." Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 2018. ABS Rogers, C., Johnson, J., Nueslein, B., Edmunds, D., Valdez, R. S.
  • "Macroergonomic factors in the Patient Work System: Examining the Context of Patients with Chronic Illness." Ergonomics, 60(1), 26-43. 2017. ABS Holden, R. J., Valdez, R. S., Schubert, C. C., Thompson, M. J., Hundt, A. S.
  • "Embracing Complexity: Rethinking Culturally Informed Design in Human Factors/Ergonomics and Consumer Health Informatics." International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 33, 322-332. 2017. ABS Valdez, R.S., Brennan, P.F.
  • "From Loquacious to Reticent: Understanding Patient Health Information Communication to Guide Consumer Health IT Design." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2017. ABS Valdez, R.S., Guterbock, T.M., Fitzgibbon, K., Williams, I.C., Wellbeloved-Stone, C.A., Bears, J.E., Menefee, H.K.
  • "Exploring Patients’ Health Information Communication Practices with Social Network Members as a Foundation for Consumer Health IT Design." International Journal of Medical Informatics, 84(5), 363-74. 2015. ABS Valdez, R.S., Brennan, P.F.
  • "Transforming Consumer Health Informatics through a Patient Work Framework: Connecting Patients to Context." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 22(1), 2-10. 2015. ABS Valdez, R. S., Holden, R. J., Novak, L. L., Veinot, T. C.
  • "Beyond Traditional Advertisements: Leveraging Facebook’s Social Structures for Research Recruitment." Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16 (10), e243. 2014. ABS Valdez, R.S., Guterbock, T.M., Thompson, M.J., Reilly, J.D., Menefee, H.K., Bennici, M.S., Williams, I.C., Rexrode, D.L.
  • "Adapting Consumer Health IT to Enhance Usability Among Different Racial and Ethnic Groups within the United States." Health and Technology 2(4), 225-233. 2012. ABS Valdez, R. S., Gibbons, M. C., Siegel, E. R., Kukafka, R., Brennan, P. F.

Courses Taught

  • SYS 4581/6581, PHS 7500: Qualitative Methods for User-Centered Design
  • SYS 4581/6581, PHS 4016/7016: Human Factors Design for Community Health
  • SYS 4053/4054: Systems Design I + II
  • PHS 4991: Global Public Health Capstone
  • INST 2020: Disability in Contemporary Society