Meet Glen Coppersmith
As an alumnus, Glen Coppersmith — who earned his bachelor’s in computer science and cognitive psychology in 2004 and his PhD in experimental psychology in 2008 — has been an active member of the Northeastern community.
“I’ve been welcomed with open arms,” Coppersmith said.
Since 2017, he has worked with faculty member Byron Wallace. In 2019, he joined the McCarthy Venture Network at Northeastern to help others shift from academia to industry.
“When I go to events, it’s nice to have a community of people,” he said. “With the launch of the Institute for Experiential AI, I reconnected with a friend from freshman year who is now a professor affiliated with the group: John Basl. He was just as bright and fun as before; it was a full circle from my freshman year dorm.”
In 2019, Coppersmith received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Khoury College in recognition of his work at Qntfy, a mental health data science startup he bootstrapped from its founding in the summer of 2014.
Within a year of receiving that award, the world was facing a mental health emergency due to the pandemic. Even in the first few weeks of the pandemic, Coppersmith said, “there were already early warning signs about the mental health crisis, especially with health care workers. We spent a bunch of time generating relevant information and getting it to people who needed it. The whole world was focusing on COVID, and we were with them.”
That summer, Coppersmith and Qntfy saw the massive need and decided to seek a pre-seed round, since the world was finally ready for what they were building. One of their investors made an introduction to another mental health leader: Mark Frank, CEO of SonderMind.
I’m working to better understand mental health and well-being using the data that is traditionally unavailable to clinicians and provders … We [can] look at this problem differently from the rest of the field by starting from a machine learning perspectiveGlen Coppersmith, BSCS ‘04, MS Psycholinguistics ‘05, PhD ‘08
“We didn’t know much about each other, but within the first ten minutes we were completely aligned on how to redesign and hopefully fix the mental health care system,” Coppersmith remembered. “Frank said, ‘This might be a little forward, but could we acquire you? It looks like we’re building two halves of the same company.’ Four months later, we were on stage together doing a fireside chat all unified at SonderMind.”
Coppersmith now works as the chief data officer at SonderMind. Switching from the “lonely” CEO job at a small company to a C-suite with colleagues and collaborators has been rewarding for Coppersmith.
“It’s exciting to be part of a larger team again,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from Mark and my colleagues at SonderMind. It’s been a continuation of the journey and a total paradigm shift at the same time.”
At SonderMind, Coppersmith leads the team towards a data-driven method of mental health treatment. They want to address the critical problem of matching patients and mental health providers to improve their access and clinical outcomes. The SonderMind team has acquired companies with apps around self-care that facilitate interaction with the platform, which is a rich source of data for a feedback loop of improving care. Other possible ideas include sleep tracking through wearables.
Looking back at his time at Northeastern, Coppersmith believes that his double major in computer science and psychology paved the way for his work at Qntfy and SonderMind.
“I was enough of an expert in those spaces to see solutions differently. It helped hone my sense of pragmatism, the desire for real world impact,” he said. “Being out in the workforce for co-op before graduation was a huge part of that Northeastern pragmatism.”