Student Profile: Indira Riadi

October 26, 2022

Indira (Indi) Riadi is working on her PhD with a focus on mental health and digital equity. She is using a community based research methodology to gather information on mental wellbeing and digital/technology-based interventions from community-dwelling older adults.

Prior to coming to Simon Fraser University, Indi completed her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a concentration in cell biology analyzing the mechanisms of Parkinson's disease in the brain. During her undergrad, Indi was engaged in various initiatives through her involvement in a research lab and through volunteering at a hospice. Through this experience, Indi met a lot of clients that had age-related illnesses. These interactions sparked her interest in mental well-being and quality of life in the older adult population.

Indi has also been volunteering with the West End Seniors’ Network for over two years at the information and referral desk as well as a technology coach throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning about the lived experiences of older adults in the community and the factors that impact their mental well-being has been a driving factor behind Indi’s research project.  As an advocate for mental health, Indi hopes to combine this with her passion for enhancing the digital literacy of older adults to create meaningful change in her community.

Coming from a predominantly quantitative science degree, Indi was drawn to the real-life application of her work. This is part of the reason why Indi chose to focus her graduate studies in the social sciences.

Social isolation, mental health, and social connectedness were already prominent issues that existed, but they were exacerbated by the pandemic. Digital health, in particular, was highlighted amidst the pandemic.

The question of how technology can help with mental health was especially relevant during this time. Previous research in this area lacks diversity and is not inclusive of underserved populations. Indi aims to bridge this gap and reduce barriers to technology through community-engaged research. Furthermore, she would like to increase the accessibility of resources and services that older adults need to improve their well-being.

Indi’s PhD project will recruit the Downtown West End Vancouver older adult population which is diverse and underrepresented in current research. Her research project will be focused on 1) determining the factors that impact diverse older adults in Vancouver and 2) identifying how technology can facilitate these factors to allow older adults to receive the services that they need.

As Indi began her journey in the area of social sciences having Dr. Theodore Cosco as her supervisor has been extremely helpful. Indi was able to get involved in Dr. Cosco’s research lab called Precision Mental Health, whose mission is to apply a stakeholder-informed, evidence-based, data-driven, and tech-enabled approach to identify and support the mental health of individuals across the course of life. Dr. Cosco’s extensive network has also allowed Indi to be connected with stakeholders for her research project.

After completing her PhD, Indi would like to be involved in research that benefits the community. However, she is currently unclear which sector she wants to work in.

Indi’s advice to prospective students interested in Graduate Studies in Gerontology:

  1. Don’t go into grad school blindly. Figure out what you really care about and are passionate about.
  2. Think beyond academia. Knowledge translation is the key to research outcomes because ultimately, that is what goes out to the community and the population that you are serving.

Connect with Indi at: