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Daniel T. Kessler, M.A.

M.A., Narrative Systems Analysis, NYU Gallatin

B.A., Creative Writing & Theatre, Oberlin College

Graduate student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Assistant, Center for Constructive Communication, MIT Media Lab

Recent: Research Assistant & RallyPoint Fellow, Nock Lab, Harvard University

Recognitions (recent)


Finalist, The Paradox Prize (Fund for our Economic Future)

Finalist, Fort Mobility, City: One (Ford Foundation)

Finalist, South Bronx Clean Design Partnership (U.S. Department of Energy)

Horn Fund Award for Environmental Game Design (New York University)

Gallatin Graduate Student Scholarship (New York University)

Horn Fund Award for Environmental Game Design (New York University)

Horn Fund Award for Environmental Game Design (New York University)








My research explores interdisciplinary and mixed-methods applications of narratology, psychology, and emerging media technologies. I am currently interested in exploring the interpersonal and mental health impacts of interactive new media such as digital role-playing games, social media platforms, and other shared virtual spaces that allow users to create, modify, and share narrative content. 


Peer-Reviewed Papers

  • Bentley, K., Zuromski, K.L., Fortgang, R., Madsen, E., Kessler, D.T., Lee, H., Nock, M.K. (Under Review). Implementing Machine Learning Algorithms for Suicide Risk Prediction in Clinical Practice: A Focus Group Study. PsyArXiv. DOI:10.31234/

  • Low, D.M., Zuromski, K.L., Kessler, D.T., Ghosh, S.S., Nock, M.K. and Dempsey, W. (2021, November). It's quality and quantity: the effect of the amount of comments on online suicidal posts. EMNLP 2021 First Workshop on Causal Inference & NLP. Nov. 7-11, 2021: Online and in the Barceló Bávaro Convention Centre, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.


Papers In Preparation

  • Kessler, D.T. Disclosure as heroic virtue: deploying a narrative framework in peer-to-peer support forums for military servicemembers to recast the experience of suicidal ideation. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Franz, P.J., Mou, D., Stubbing, J., Kessler, D.T., et al. Narrative bibliotherapy as a scalable intervention for suicidal thoughts. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Zuromski, K.L., Kessler, D.T., Heaton, D.,Tatem, M., Steinberg, J., Mou, D., Nock, M.K. Impact of COVID-19 on suicidal thoughts and behaviors as indicated through Twitter posts. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Zuromski, K.L., Jones, N., Kessler, D.T., Low, Daniel, Kastman, E., Wilks, C., Gowel, D., Nock, M.K. Analysis of a peer-to-peer support social media platform for military servicemembers. Manuscript in preparation.


Conference Presentations

  • Kessler, D.T., Zuromski, K.L., Low, D., Nock, M.K. (2021, October). Using topic modeling to describe suicide-related content from an online social media platform for military servicemembers. Presented at the 5th Annual Technology in Psychiatry Summit (TIPS), Blitz Talks. Mclean Hospital, Belmont, MA.

  • Harrel, A., Kessler, D.T., Zuromski, K.L., Nock, M.K. (August, 2020) Improving detection and understanding of suicide risk in the military: a mixed-methods analysis of social media posts. Conference Presentation of The Leadership Alliance & SROH: University of Buffalo, SUNY and Harvard University.

  • Kessler, D.T. (January, 2020). How Intelligent Systems Change Archetypal Narrative Acts. Presented at the 1st Annual NYU Systems Conference: New York University, New York, NY.



  • Kessler, D.T., Zuromski, K.L., Low, D., Wittler, E.M., Nock, M.K. (2021, November). Examining online disclosures of suicide risk: a qualitative analysis of data from a military social media platform. Poster presented at the 55th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Orleans, LA. 

Unpublished Manuscript

  • Kessler, D.T. (December, 2019). Narrative Systems Modeling: Techniques for Classifying, Databasing, and Mapping Narrative Systems. Successfully defended at New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York, NY.


Interactive Narratives

(1) Stories that support learning, social skills development, and the interplay of individual actors and responsive, adaptable systems. (2) Applying knowledge from formal narratological and dramatic studies to online social environments to deepen our understanding of interactions between and among users experiencing a range of mental health struggles.

Immersive Environments

The development of immersive, responsive, and mixed-use digital spaces that support and enable shared access to technologies, natural ecosystems, and other communal resources while supporting the development of novel communities through human-centered design.

Experience design

Experiences and technologies that prioritize accessibility and provide opportunities for learning and dialogue, especially between and among people in conflict. 


Game Design

Play experiences that provide opportunities for experimentation, creation, and self-discovery regardless of background or ability. 

Digital Humanities

Applying digital, programmatic, and data-driven frameworks to creative or fictional narratives, allowing us to quantify unique semantic, expressive, and subtextual features of global stories regardless of their original modalities.


Mixed-methods research

Combining qualitative and quantitative measures to better understand narrative and interactive storytelling media.

Mental health

Peer-to-peer systems that develop social connectedness, improve access to mental health resources, and allow users to share their experiences in narrative-form.


Grammatical Nonsense is an evidence-based storytelling game designed to support language, literacy, and social skills development for kids who struggle with attention (and much more). I independently wrote, designed, and illustrated over 500 cards to create Grammatical Nonsense, with three years of playtesting around the country before the game was crowdfunded in August, 2021. To learn more about the game's many features and add-ons, watch the launch video below from the recent IndieGoGo campaign.

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