About Us

The PPE Portrait Project is a group of researchers: artists, health care implementation scientists, doctors, a user experience designer, photographers, and a moral philosopher specializing in practical ethics and bioethics dedicated to improving the connections between people who can’t see each others’ faces, especially in the healthcare environment. We volunteer our expertise to help institutions and individuals adopt PPE Portraits, and establish best practices through research and dialogue with our partner institutions.

PPE Portrait Project collaborators (top row) Juliana Marie Baratta, Mary Beth Heffernan, Alexis Marie Amano, (middle row) Paige K. Parsons, Cati Brown-Johnson, Mae-Richelle Verano, and (bottom row) Stacie Vilendrer in a videoconference meeting, June 5, 2020 (photograph provided by Mary Beth Heffernan)

Mary Beth Heffernan is an artist and Occidental College Professor of sculpture, photography and interdisciplinary arts. Her research-based practice focuses on corporeality and how our physical existence is bound up in images, language and material culture. Heffernan created the PPE Portrait Project in response to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in Liberia. 

Cati Brown-Johnson, PhD,  is a research scientist at Stanford Medical School focused on quality improvement. Brown-Johnson was the first to pilot PPE Portraits in support of COVID-19 care, and now supports five Stanford Express Care clinics, Stanford Health inpatient services and project assessment. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to evidence that clinician warmth activates a patient’s healing mechanisms. 

Paige K. Parsons is an award winning photographer, user experience designer and materials researcher whose practice focuses on human connection. Parsons is establishing best practices for the PPE Portrait Project across a variety of healthcare and other settings, including Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes and Schools.