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New School of Computing and Information at University of Pittsburgh Will Address “Profound Effect” of Data Expansion

 

PITTSBURGH—Business, medicine, science, engineering, humanities: widely divergent fields of study though they are, they have in common a growing requirement of students—an understanding of and proficiency in using computing and information resources.

University of Pittsburgh trustees today approved creation of a new school aimed at addressing that need. In an era characterized by the outsized influence of technology on advances in other major fields, the School of Computing and Information (SCI) at Pitt will host an array of academic programs that integrate computing and information with core disciplinary strengths across the University.

The result will be a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment that supports discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship driven by data and technology, said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson.

“The new School of Computing and Information will provide an environment rich in discovery. I am confident the innovative programs and collaborations envisioned by our faculty will be transformative for our students, and for research across the University,” said Beeson.

The University has an opportunity to take advantage of these emerging trends to better prepare all Pitt students for the world that they will shape, and to accelerate progress in research and innovation, she said.

The school, which will begin operations with the opening of the new fiscal year in July and officially enroll its first cohort of students in fall 2017, is a key element in Pitt’s strategy to support research in data and computation-intensive fields across the University.

“With this launch, Pitt and our board have recognized the rapidly growing importance of computing and information in virtually every discipline—and in solving both large and small issues facing our society today,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “I want to thank our provost for her leadership and her vision on this effort, and to recognize the many faculty members who collaborated to bring this to fruition. Your vision is a compelling one, and I can’t wait to see it come to life.”

Architects of the school envision training a new generation of computing and information scientists who work in collaboration with colleagues in discipline-based organizations to develop context-responsive solutions.

“This is so critical for our students,” said Trustee Emeritus Al Moyé (A&S ’68). “Not only will it benefit the students, but it will make it easier for them to understand what kind of opportunities there are for them in the modern world.”

Work to develop the guiding principles of the new school began formally in April 2015 when faculties of the School of Information Sciences (SIS) and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Department of Computer Science were asked to consider how best to structure computing and information at the University.

“As [representatives of] disciplines, we must remove technological silos and insular research and education efforts to place computing within the context of its use,” said an early description of the effort.

Former IBM executive Leona Mitchell, now a visiting professor of practice in SIS, described the intersection of data and computing across disciplines as “worlds colliding.”

“The school can become a center of gravity in this emerging field,” she said. “This will differentiate Pitt, not only in the country, but in the world. We have a unique value proposition in this new school.”

SCI will initially organize teaching, research, and outreach along three themes:

  • Connected Life, Health, and Medicine will capitalize on Pitt strengths in machine learning and data mining and explore data-driven technologies to advance decision making in next-generation health care systems.
  • Synergistic Computing in Education will integrate computing into the education of students, teachers, and the workforce, potentially transforming teaching and learning to adapt to the differing needs of individuals and varied contexts in which learning must take place.
  • Computing at the Extremes takes advantage of the power of supercomputing with “big data” to solve some of the world’s most complex problems, particularly in biomedical sciences, genomics, and climate studies.

Students and recent graduates of the existing computing and information sciences programs have reacted to the proposal with enthusiasm.

Brendan Quay (ENGR ’15), who studied computer engineering and cofounded HiberSense, a company he created with another student and a professor, said, “I think it will provide the necessary infrastructure for students to accelerate their learning through innovation. Every opportunity you have to be innovative, you should really take it … because that’s what the real world is. It’s being able to create things that actually affect the world.”

Faculty for SCI will initially be drawn from the School of Information Sciences and Department of Computer Science, augmented by a five-year, $30 million investment in faculty expansion and development of innovative interdisciplinary degree programs and research collaborations.

Students currently enrolled in the existing programs will have the option to continue their studies as originally planned or join the new school, taking advantage of anticipated enhancements to the curriculum. New certificate programs are expected to enhance students’ career goals. Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs will begin to include domain-specific computing and data-analytics topics developed in collaboration with domain departments.

The University has formed a search committee and engaged a professional search firm to conduct a nationwide search for a founding dean for the new school.

“This is truly a remarkable opportunity,” said Ron Larsen, dean of SIS. “This will take the research and scholarship of the School of Information Sciences to a new level and provide Pitt an exciting new opportunity to shape society’s use of information and computing resources.”

“The school will provide a shared conceptual framework to enable researchers to jointly explore discipline-specific theories and holistically address multifaceted problems critical to our society,” said Taieb Znati, professor and chair of computer science. “It will usher in a new culture of collaboration, where the silos disappear.”

 

Martin Wolske Named Interim Director of the Center for Digital Inclusion

 

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois has announced the appointment of Martin Wolske as interim director of the Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI). Wolske assumes the position following the departure of Jon Gant, founding director, who recently accepted the deanship of the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

As a senior research scientist and adjunct lecturer, Wolske is well known for his excellence in teaching, research, and community service. His experience includes leadership roles in the international Community Informatics Research Network and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Outreach and Engagement Practitioners Network. A frequently invited speaker at national and international venues, Wolske shares insights gained through advanced research in areas such as community informatics and digital literacy. His accomplishments also include service as president of the Champaign Public Library Board of Trustees, which recently completed a successful search for a new director.

Wolske looks forward to his new role and the opportunity to further the mission of CDI: to foster inclusive and sustainable societies through research, teaching, and public engagement about information and communication technologies (ICT) and their impacts on communities, organizations, and governments. Learn more

 

Illinois iSchool Adds Three Faculty Members

 

Three new faculty members joined the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Ted Underwood joined the iSchool in August as a professor. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of English, where he has served on the faculty since 2003. Underwood worked at the University of Rochester and Colby College before coming to Illinois. He has authored two books—Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies and The Work of the Sun: Literature, Science and Political Economy 1760-1860—and is working on a third, The Horizon of Literary History. He specializes in the broad collection of fields known as digital humanities. Learn more.

Following a one-year postdoctoral assignment at the University of Pittsburgh, Jodi Schneider joined the faculty in August as an assistant professor. Her research interests include computer-supported cooperative work; linked data including ontologies, metadata, and the semantic web; and scholarly communication. She previously worked as a science library specialist at Amherst College and as a web librarian at Appalachian State University. Her contributions to library technology include founding the Code4Lib Journal and co-authoring the “W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group Final Report,” which has been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Learn more.

Prior to joining the iSchool in September, Matthew Turk was a research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and a research assistant professor at the Department of Astronomy at Illinois. He continues to hold a joint appointment with Astronomy and is group leader at the Data Exploration lab at NCSA. His research focuses on the organization of data and the meaning behind it, how groups of individuals collaborate in an inherently competitive system, and how the interaction of software and the human experience of knowledge generation can be influenced to increase productivity or understanding. Learn more.

 

Rutgers iSchool to Hold Research Invitational for Master’s Students

 

Rutgers University iSchool invites students with in-progress and completed master’s degrees to the Third Rutgers iSchool Research Invitational. The conference focus is to showcase master’s student research interests (completed, in-progress and prospective work in information science or related domain), and to network with our iSchool community. Attendees will present a research poster. They will participate in networking events such as a catered dinner, research presentations by current PhD students, and discussions with iSchool faculty. The participants will also have a unique opportunity to learn about Rutgers PhD program and the excellent benefits it offers to those interested in pursuing research in iSchools. The event takes place November 4-5, 2016

A complete proposal for participation requires: Poster abstracts of up to 500 words outlining your research interests and any results you have gleaned to-date, a CV, and a cover letter of introduction briefly describing you, your background and career plans. Applications will be considered by a juried panel of Rutgers faculty based upon thorough completion of the requested materials, depth of coverage, and fit in the iSchool scholarly fields. The application deadline is October 9, and decisions will be announced October 12.

Selected participants will be reimbursed for up to $300 for travel to Rutgers University, depending on distance. Their hotel for up to two nights, local transportations, and meals will also be covered.

Applications can be submitted at https://goo.gl/forms/RTRuVZca4h3sBtls2. For more information, contact Dr. Chirag Shah.

 

UBC Offers Funded Ph.D. Opportunities in Library, Archival and Information Studies

 

The School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS the iSchool@UBC) is seeking exceptional and dynamic doctoral students to join them in September 2017 for their Doctor of Philosophy program in Library, Archival and Information Studies. Located in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia the University of British Columbia is consistently recognized as one of the top 40 Universities in the world.

Admitted candidates typically receive up to 2 years of full funding in the form of Graduate Student Initiative funding through the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies with additional funding opportunities in the forms of research, teaching and service assistantships.

Those thinking about starting a Ph.D. who would like to talk to UBC about opportunities at the iSchoolare invited to attend an online information session that will provide further details.

Session Date: Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Time: 10:30am – 11:30am Pacific Standard Time

Co-hosted by Dr. Edie Rasmussen, Chair of the Doctoral Studies Committee and Dr. Luanne Freund, Acting Director

Interested parties can register for the session at http://slais.ubc.ca/online-information-session-registration/

A Face-to-Face session will be held on Thursday October 6th from 12:00pm – 1:00pm in the iSchool Trail Meeting Room, 4th Floor Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, please register for that session here.

Application Deadline for PhD program:

  • Deadline for funding/award consideration – December 15, 2016
  • Final Application deadline – January 15, 2017 (all supporting documents due on February 1, 2017)

 

UNT College of Information names new dean, receives $1.2 million endowment

 

The University of North Texas College of Information has named Dr. Kinshuk as its new dean. Dr. Kinshuk is formerly the associate dean of the Faculty of Science of Technology at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada. Dr. Kinshuk began his new position as Dean of the College of Information on August 15. Regents Professor of Decision Sciences Victor Prybutok has served as the college’s interim dean since February. For further details please go here: https://news.unt.edu/news-releases/new-dean-named-unts-college-information

In other news, UNT has created an endowed professorship fund called The Reinburg Professorship in Data Sciences. The fund is named after Jesse Reinburg who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in library science in 1941. She passed away in September 2015, leaving an estimated $1.2 million to create a data science professorship in the Department of Library & Information Sciences. More at https://news.unt.edu/news-releases/unt-college-information-receives-12-million-endowment-fund-new-data-science-professors.

 

iFellows 2016 Call for Proposals

 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). – “The iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Program will provide a two-year fellowship of $50,000 to selected iSchool PhD students during the 2016–2017 academic year to pursue independent dissertation research that supports the goals of the Coherence at Scale Program. Coherence at Scale is a broad-based program aimed at coordinating and aggregating national-scale digital projects in order to promote the development of new technology environments to support advanced scholarship across disciplines. The Coherence at Scale Program is led by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh will serve as the administrative organization for the iFellows Program. Funding support is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.”
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iConference 2017 Submissions Due Sept. 16

 

The iConference 2017 submission deadline is Sept. 16. This applies to all papers, posters, proposals and applications. Authors are encourged to begin finalizing their work in advance of this fast-approaching deadline.

iConference 2017 will take place March 22-25, 2017, in Wuhan, China. The theme of this first-ever Asia-based iConference is “Effect • Expand • Evolve: Global Collaboration Across the Information Community.”

Authors can consult the following pages for more information:

Authors and organizers can now submit materials using our secure submissions website: https://www.conftool.com/iConference2017/. The official proceedings will be published in the open access Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS). All submissions must be received by end-of-day Sept. 16.

iConference 2017 is jointly hosted by the Wuhan University School of Information Management and Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University Library & Information Science and Data Science Department. The 3,500-year-old city of Wuhan represents a combination of ancient culture and modern living, and conference participants are assured a memorable and rewarding experience.

As always, the iConference will include peer-reviewed papers, posters, workshops and sessions for interaction and engagement, interspersed with multiple opportunities for networking. Early career and next generation researchers can engage in the Doctoral Student Colloquium and Early Career Colloquium.

New this year are special conference programs focused on iSchool Best Practices, and also on iSchools and Industry Partnerships. In addition, there will be a special track for papers originating in China.

The iConference brings together scholars and researchers addressing critical information issues in contemporary society. The iConference pushes the boundaries of information studies, explores core concepts and ideas, and creates new technological and conceptual configurations—all shaping interdisciplinary discourses. Affiliation with a member iSchool is not required—all information scholars, researchers, and practitioners are encouraged to make submissions. Visit the iConference website for more information.

The iConference is presented by the iSchools organization, a worldwide association of information schools dedicated to advancing the information field, and preparing students to meet the information challenges of the 21st Century. The event is sponsored by Microsoft Research, and other sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

iSchools Obtain Nonprofit Status as Charitable Organization

 

iSchools Inc. is now officially a tax-exempt nonprofit charitable organization, having been granted 501(c)(3) status by the United States Internal Revenue Service. The nonprofit determination means the iSchools organization is exempt from federal income tax, and donors can deduct their contributions to the organization.

The determination of nonprofit status was made official on August 1, 2016. It comes on the heels of the organization’s official incorporation in 2015, in Washington D.C.

“Achieving nonprofit status is an important step for the iSchools organization,” said Ron Larsen, dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and chair of the iCaucus, the governing body of the iSchools organization. “Ever since the iSchools organized in 2005, we have sought to incorporate and obtain nonprofit status. Those goals have now been realized.”

The iSchools organization was founded in 2005 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st Century. It has since grown into a consortium of 77 schools spanning five continents.

The iSchools organization supports and recognizes student achievement through its annual Doctoral Colloquium and Doctoral Dissertation Award, as well as other special contests and mentoring opportunities. The iSchools also provide collaboration tools and other support to assist faculty in their teaching and research endeavors. Every year, the iSchools organization presents the iConference, a forum in which information scholars, researchers and professionals share their insights on critical information issues in contemporary society. The next iConference is scheduled to take place March 22-25, 2017 in Wuhan, China.

“Many recognize how the information field is creating innovative systems and designing information solutions that benefit individuals, organizations, and society. By promoting the iSchools movement, the iSchools organization helps the world harness the power of information and technology, and maximize the potential of humans,” said iSchool Executive Director David Fenske. “This determination of 501(c)(3) status will benefit individuals and organizations who wish to directly support the iSchools organization in this mission through charitable donations.”

 

New dean named for UCI School of Information & Computer Sciences

 

Irvine, California (USA). – “Marios Papaefthymiou – an expert in the design of energy-efficient, high-performance computers – has been appointed the next dean of the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. His term will begin Jan. 1, 2017.
“Given the central role played by information and computer sciences in the transformation of research across many vital fields, it was very important for the campus to recruit a strong, visionary leader for the Donald Bren School,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Marios Papaefthymiou is such a leader. We are excited about the school’s future and welcome Marios to the UCI community.””
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