Lien B. Tran (she/her) is an award-winning social impact and interaction designer, who creates interactive solutions at the intersections of social justice, health, and environment at the local, national, and international levels. Experienced in user experience (UX), interaction design (IxD), systems thinking, and simulation and game design, Lien continually applies design thinking and human center design techniques in order to create informed, goal-directed solutions including games, apps, websites, digital humanities, and emerging technologies such as VR. Her work often addresses and advocates for underrepresented, marginalized communities highlighting the systematic role society plays in these populations’ ability to thrive including health care providers, law enforcement, and citizens alike. Previous project partnerships include Open Society Foundations, World Bank, United Nations, and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Lien is an Assistant Professor at DePaul University (School of Design, Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media) and director of Matters at Play lab, a transdisciplinary design lab partnering in the creation of interactive advocacy solutions for positive social transformations. Lien has collaborated on numerous occasions with academics and organizations across disciplines. Prior to joining DePaul University in 2021, she was a professor at the University of Miami‘s School of Communication in Coral Gables, Florida, where she was also co-director of the New Experience Research and Design Lab (NERDLab). Lien previous worked in information technology and business consulting and served as an assistant language teacher in Kitakyushu, Japan, with the JET Programme.


Select Honors & Affiliations

  • 2023 Excellence Award for Service, IndieCade Horizons Faculty of Excellence Awards (recognizing important, impactful contributions to academic games field through service)
  • 2022-23 DePaul University fellow for The Op Ed Project’s Public Voices fellowship
  • 2022 Meaningful Play, Top Paper award
  • 2022 Games+Learning+Society Creativity and Design award, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 2021 Winning game (The Big Build Up) for Jennifer Ann’s Group’s Life.Love. Game Design Challenge: Unplugged / Power and Control edition
  • 2019 International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare, SimVentors Showcase and Games Arcade. Runner-up award in the Best in Show, Academic Games category for Dwell. San Antonio, TX, USA
  • 2017 Communicator Award, Award of Distinction for Don Grey Café
  • 2016 Meaningful Play Conference, Top 6 Paper Award (with McFarlane, S.) | Link
  • 2016 Horizon Interactive Award, Gold for Mobile Apps: Game for Don Grey Café
  • 2016 Communicator Award for DOCS website, Award of Distinction for Websites – Charitable Organizations / Non-Profit
  • 2016 W3 Award from the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, Silver for Charitable Organizations / Non-Profit for “Dissemination the DOCS Model” website | Link
  • 2016 Davey Award, Silver for Charitable Organizations / Non-Profit for “Dissemination the DOCS Model” website | Link
  • 2015 Horizon Interactive Award, Gold for Responsive/Mobile site for DOCS website
  • 2015 Horizon Interactive Award, Silver for University/School site for DOCS website
  • 2015 Open Society Foundations grant to promote and research effects of game to promote decriminalization of condoms in South Africa
  • 2014 Meaningful Play Best Overall Non-Digital Game for Cops and Rubbers 
  • 2014 Invoking the Pause Grant Partner for Games for a Caribbean Climate
  • 2012 The New School’s The New Challenge grant for social innovation (grand finalist)
  • 2012 World Bank KnowLympics Innovation Award for TASAF climate change and productive social safety net (PSSN) simulation game
  • 2012 CDKN/START Graduate Student Research Grant in Climate Risk Management
  • Games+Learning+Society 8.0 (2012) – Voted Most Surprising Findings, Poster Session
  • Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Young Scholar (2011-12)
  • Open Society Foundations Information Design Fellow (2010) and Design Consultant (2012)
  • Parsons MFA D+T Bootcamp Teaching Fellow, Web Design (2011)
  • Parsons PETLab Research Assistant teaching Activate Games curriculum in Abu Dhabi, sponsored by AMD Changing the Game (2011)
  • dorkShop President (2010) and founding member
  • Beta Gama Sigma, business honor society
  • Mortar Board, honor society for service, leadership, scholarship
  • Jim Mayo Arts Scholarship Award for dance