As the Associate Director for Communication for Community Health Partnerships (CHeP)—the community-centered initiative of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (IndianaCTSI)—Sanematsu oversees a staff of four designers on projects that help ensure relevance in university-community partnerships. She is the founding designer/design researcher for the Patient Engagement Core, which assists health studies at Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame with people-centered approaches that integrate patient perspectives into research. Her work extends the reach of design for communication and design research into health services through the application and exploration of best practices and new methods.

She has been a co-investigator or project partner on a number of interdisciplinary studies with the IU School of Medicine, the Fairbanks School of Public Health (IU), the School of Liberal Arts (IU Indianapolis), and the Indiana State Department of Health. She has had her work published in Visible Language, Touchpoint—The Journal of Service Design, and the Journal of Adolescent Health, among other journals. She has presented papers at AIGA Education conferences, SIG-CHI, and the Nordic Design Research Conference.

Sanematsu teaches intro level courses in visual communication design and upper division courses in service design. In the studio, she combines design fundamentals with a ‘learner-centered’ approach. She emphasizes the importance of the studio as a learning community, and teaches her students to see the potential in their work to impact society-at-large.

Professor Sanematsu was appointed to the Visual Communication faculty in 2007. Previously, she was a design educator at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She has also taught at the California Institute of the Arts and at Parsons in New York City. She has worked at Martha Stewart Living magazine as an associate art director and at Bruce Mau Design. In 2005 she worked with a student group to design the inaugural exhibition for the INDEX: Award in Copenhagen, Denmark. She has taught transdisciplinary studio courses with students from Tama Art University in Tokyo, Japan, and has led similar studios for major corporations in the U.S. and for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Sanematsu graduated from Occidental College with an AB degree (1989) in the history of art and from the Yale School of Art with an MFA degree (1998) in graphic design.