Emerging Professional Award

This year, Research Nova Scotia was proud to present the Emerging Professional Award at the 2021 Discovery Awards. The award was presented to Dr. Rita Orji, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University and Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology, for her transformative work on Personalizing Persuasive Systems. Dr. Orji is globally recognized as a leader in Persuasive Technologies (PTs) and Behaviour Change Systems through her work and understanding that persuasion is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition – the user needs to come first.


As the proud sponsor of the Emerging Professionals Award, Research Nova Scotia is pleased to congratulate Dr. Orji and all other Discovery Award recipients.

In the area of predictive personalization modelling, Dr. Orji has developed models and frameworks for personalizing PTs based on how individuals respond to design strategies. Her work was among the first to demonstrate the importance of personalizing behaviour change strategies, conducting large-scale evaluations of personalized persuasive systems including mental health, healthy eating, physical activity, sexual behaviour, and alcohol abuse.

Within her research area of Persuasive Technology, Dr. Orji investigates how to design and evaluate interactive systems such as games and apps to promote social wellness and good.

Recently, Dr. Orji’s collaborations have led to projects that have contributed towards Dalhousie’s COVID-19 efforts. In conjunction with Sandra Meier from Dalhousie and the IWK Health Centre, Dr. Orji developed a mobile sensing app to monitor the impacts of social distancing and isolation on youth during the pandemic. She is also part of a Dalhousie team using artificial intelligence to analyze the public emotions expressed through millions of Tweets from those self-isolating across the globe and identify trends that could impact public policy in this area.

Dr. Orji also recently received the Outstanding Early Career Researcher Award, a national award that recognizes top young faculty members in Canadian computer science departments. Watch our Researcher spotlight to see how Dr. Orji has combined her talents in tech with her passion for helping people in the field of persuasive technology to design and improve interactive systems such as games and apps that promote health and wellness and help users achieve their goals.