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Leading and Promoting the Information Field

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2019 Doctoral Colloquium Schedule

The 2019 Doctoral Colloquium takes place all day Sunday, March 31, in room 2112.

  • 8.30-10.00 am: Introductions and Student Lightning Talks
  • 10.30 am-12.00: Research Discussions
  • 12.00-1.30 pm: Working Lunch, Research Discussions Continued
  • 1.30-3.00 pm: CV Review by ALISE Mentors
  • 3.30-5.00 pm: Faculty Panel on Professional Development

Doctoral Colloquium Co-Chairs

Questions about the Doctoral Colloquium may be directed to the following:

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List of Mentors

Dietmar Wolfram, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Toyama Kentaro, University of Michigan
Eric Gilbert, University of Michigan
Ravi Kuber, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Beth St. Jean, University of Maryland
Joe Tennis, University of Washington
Megan Finn, University of Washington

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Participant Biographical and Research Information

Abdulaziz Almanea

Biography: Abdulaziz Almanea is a third-year PhD student at the University of Sheffield, Information School, under the supervision of Prof. Peter Bah and Dr Laura Sbaffi. He is a member of the Health Informatics research group in the School where he conducts his doctoral research that investigates the role of online health support groups in empowering people with Type 2 diabetes.

His research interests lie in the areas of Information Science, Data Science, Computer-Mediated Communication and Health Informatics. He is keen on understanding how social networks are being used by the public and their impacts on them. Abdulaziz is deeply interested in knowing how humans use technology to communicate and how culture and gender influences such use.

He holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from Drexel University, USA, where he received the Dean’s Fellowship Award and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from Imam University, KSA, where he was awarded the degree with first honor degree. Abdulaziz is a lecturer in the Information Systems Department at Imam University, where he intends to teach and research in the area of Information Science besides working with local organizations in Saudi Arabia to solve problems related to Information Science.

Research: The overall aim of this PhD research is to investigate the influence of online support groups (OSGs) on patient empowerment for people with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the UK. The study will provide insights about factors that influence patient empowerment and the treatment decisions for patients, group differences with regard to empowerment, the impact of empowerment on patients’ decisions and health. More specifically, the research objectives are:

  • To understand the information needs and information behaviours of patients with T2D through their use of OSGs.
  • To develop a better understanding of how the use of OSGs by people with T2D can support patient empowerment.
  • To describe how patients with T2D utilise the information they receive on OSGs and how this influences their health behaviours.

The study will be a two-arm study. First, posts from a selected type two diabetes OSGs are collected and analysed thematically. Second, the researcher will conduct semi-structured, in-depth interviews with current or former OSG users to get detailed information on how the use of OSGs affects the management of their illness. The study will provide insights on how OSGs can empower people with T2D and the findings will be of value both to health organisations and to organisations hosting OSGs.

Anas Hamad Alsuhaibani

Biography: Anas Hamad Alsuhaibani is a Ph.D. candidate and a member of the Digital Societies Research Group in Information School at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. In 2013, he received his B.Sc. degree in information systems from Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Straight after graduation, Anas joined King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to work as an academic researcher. After nearly a year and a half of working in KACST, he moved to Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University (PSAU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to work as a lecturer. In September 2016, he was sponsored by PSAU to do his master and Ph.D. studies; and by 2017, he completed his MSc in information systems from the University of Sheffield. Currently, the focus of his research is directed towards investigating the role of social media during the transition of international students to the UK.

Research: It is well known that international students’ transition from their home to the host country is accompanied by many challenges. During the transition period, students are more likely to be depressed, anxious, lonely and socially disconnected. Social media, with its informational and communication characteristics, may be an increasingly important aspect of the experience. During the student’s life in the host country, social media may help them to maintain well-being and provide them with necessary information. Combining qualitative interviews with social media data analysis, my study aims to investigates the role of social media in Saudi students’ transition to the UK by focusing on its impact on their social connections.

Brooke Elizabeth Auxier

Biography: Brooke Elizabeth Auxier is currently a PhD candidate in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Her studies and research have focused on social media and information studies. Her dissertation examines how users evaluate and perceive the trustworthiness and credibility of information and information-sharers in a variety of social media spaces.

She is the director of social journalism and audience engagement for Capital News Service, the news organization at the Merrill College of Journalism. She is also an adjunct instructor in the College of Information Studies and the Merrill College of Journalism.

Her academic interests grew out of her time as a social media strategist and data analyst. She has worked as a social media and audience engagement manager, strategist and editor with companies like Travel Channel (Chevy Chase, Md.), TLC (Discovery Communications, Silver Spring, Md.) and Marriott (Bethesda, Md.). She also worked as a data analyst and editorial intern at Apple News (Cupertino, Ca.) in summer 2017.

She has a B.A. (’10) in English and Media Studies from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. and an M.A. (’12) in Journalism from the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Research: I am an interdisciplinary researcher focused on social media and the nature of information in online spaces. My research draws on journalism and communication studies, information studies, social science, and human-computer interaction.

I have collaborated with co-authors who have various academic, theoretical and methodological backgrounds. For example, I’ve worked on projects with my advisor Dr. Jennifer Golbeck (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland), scholars in the information studies, computer science and journalism departments, industry partners (Banjo), as well and labs (Intelligent Assistive Machines Lab) and research centers (Center for Advanced Study of Language) across campus.

My dissertation aims to understand how users evaluate and perceive the trustworthiness and credibility of information and information-sharers in a variety of social media spaces (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). Other research projects have focused on understanding how users experience digital news environments and examining how key influencers share information within social networks.

Moving forward, I plan to expand my research to include more platforms, computational methods and domains. I also hope to explore solutions to problems within digital environments, which would allow me to examine concepts around media literacy, information overload and decision-making, and user experience.

Beth Strickland Bloch

Biography: Beth Strickland Bloch is a Doctoral Candidate in the College of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). During her PhD studies, she was awarded a multi-year predoctoral fellowship in the Learning to See Systems interdisciplinary graduate training program (Science & Technology Studies) at the University of Illinois at UIUC. Ms. Bloch has taught courses in sociotechnical information systems, information and society, feminist technoscience, and digital research methods. She has a MLIS from the University of Denver, a MA in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University, and a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Before joining the iSchool, Ms. Bloch served as a Senior Associate Librarian at the University of Michigan and associate lecturer with the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Her broader research agenda draws on perspectives from sociotechnical systems, social informatics, and information & data ethics. Ms. Bloch currently focuses on research questions related to the values and ethics associated with the design of biomedical technologies intended for clinical use.

Research: Bloch is currently working on her dissertation, The Values and Design of Novel Biomedical Nanotechnologies, which is informed by information science research within the areas of Values in Design and Values Sensitive Design. This project focuses on the scientific practices of biomedical engineers who design novel technologies intended for use in clinical healthcare settings. Through observations of everyday scientific practices, and conducting interviews with laboratory group members, the design choices made by these researchers are identified and examined. This project considers the extent to which biomedical engineers think about the potential ethical implications of their design decisions when developing novel bionanotechnologies. Bloch also conducts research which considers the public trust of scientific institutions, the values and ethics of using algorithms and big data in the production of knowledge about the body, and the identity politics of scientists and engineers.

Sarah Bratt

Biography: I am a Laboratory for Innovation Science SPFS Fellow at Harvard University and a doctoral student at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. I earned a B.S. in Philosophy from Ithaca College and an M.S. in Library and Information Science with a certificate of advanced study in Data Science from Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Previous research and teaching experience includes the Media Interface Network Design (MIND) Lab at Syracuse University Newhouse School of Communication in the neuroscience lab, as a Programming Teaching Fellow at the iSchool Inclusion Institute, and currently as a 5-year member of the Metadata Lab at Syracuse University iSchool. When not reading or using R, I love playing the piano and running long distances.

Research: I study emerging ways of sharing, organizing, and collaborating made possible by information and communication technology. I approach this question in a few ways: qualitatively and quantitatively for theory building and systems design surrounding socio-technical issues in distributed communities, and to investigate intercultural knowledge-production and diffusion using digital infrastructure to inform policymaking and collaboration processes.

In particular, my research focuses on how cyberinfrastructure (CI) facilitates research collaborations and impacts knowledge production and communication in the context of big open research data repositories. In response to the growing need for evaluating outcomes and impact of federal research investment, my research analyzes the evolution of scientific collaboration networks and communities in the natural and physics sciences. I employ quantitative methods on the metadata from open research data repositories such as GenBank, ICPSR, and Figshare and conduct qualitative synchronous interviews and fieldwork data to triangulate the macroscopic, mesoscopic, and micro-organization of scientific collaboration. These investigations contribute to information science and technology studies and aim to inform questions around the design and impact of CI on productivity, socio-cultural and temporal ordering of collaboration capacity. I am especially interested in their application in underserved low resource groups (citizen), and in scholarly (science) coordination projects.

Richard Caneba

Biography: I received my bachelor’s in Philosophy with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Michigan in 2009, and was involved in a previous graduate program and then industry as an artificial intelligence researcher, entrepreneur, and software development engineer. I eventually left the tech industry to focus on more humanitarian efforts in technology, where I now progress towards completing my PhD at Penn State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology under the tutelage of Dr. Carleen Maitland. My principle research interest is on the diffusion of information technology in the postcolonial context. This includes development of telecommunications infrastructure to connect communities, how those communities engage with IT, and how these communities are contending with the rapid changes that IT diffusion has brought with it with regards to culture, all within the historical backdrop of coloniality. Following my graduate studies, I will be pursuing a career as a scholar and educator, and hope to have an impact on humanitarian initiatives and broader academic scholarship.

Research: I have engaged in research focusing on the social impacts of telecommunications infrastructure development on firms operating on indigenous territory in the United States, as well as social media use by indigenous communities. My dissertation research will be focused on the development of culturally tailored STEM and IT educational programs with First Nations communities in Canada, and how indigenous cultural aspects are combined with IT and STEM education, especially given the largely western/Eurocentric nature of the modern IT industry.

My principle research interest is on the diffusion of information technology in the postcolonial context. This includes development of telecommunications infrastructure to connect communities, how those communities engage with IT, and how these communities are contending with the rapid changes that IT diffusion has brought with it with regards to culture, justice, and establishing and maintaining an independent identity, all within the historical backdrop and ongoing presence of coloniality. Although my research is focused on North America (the US and Canada), my research is essential to indigenous nations that must contend with a technologizing world and its potential to either further or deter colonization, as well as nations seeking more inclusive policies with regards to their own indigenous communities.

Chola Chhetri

Biography: I am a PhD candidate in the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University. Previous academic degrees include an M.S. in Information Security and Assurance from George Mason University and an M. Sc. in Computer Science. I have held multiple industry certifications, including ISC2’s CISSP, EC Council’s CEH, Cloud Security Alliance’s CCSK, and CompTIA’s Security+ and Network+. I have worked in academia, government, and non-profit sectors globally in areas of network management, network administration, and system administration. I have taught cybersecurity, networks, computer architecture, and computer science at various schools and colleges.

I am interested in security, privacy, human computer interaction, and usable security and privacy. My current research is aimed at understanding vulnerabilities of smart home devices, eliciting privacy concerns of smart home device users, and building secure smart home solutions.

Research: The Internet of Things (IoT) includes non-legacy devices such as coffee makers, refrigerators, thermostats and digital voice assistants that are transforming homes and lives of people. The smart home—a home that includes such Internet-connected IoT devices—provides comfort, convenience and control. However, security researchers have demonstrated various attacks to the smart home and to the user of smart home devices. These attacks include tracking the user, breaking into the home, and taking control of the device to deny the home owner access to the home.

My research work will identify security and privacy concerns of the owners of smart home devices and propose a framework for smart home privacy that can be used by developers, vendors as well as users of smart home devices to make smart home device more secure and private. I view my research as a bridge between all three phenomena central to the information field: information, technology and people. I believe my research will help researchers, developers and vendors deliver more secure products by deciphering users concerns on smart home technologies and making recommendations of usable, secure, and more private smart home products.

Michael A. DeVito

Biography: Mike DeVito is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the cross-disciplinary Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University. He currently works out of the Social Media Lab, where he directs the research experiences for undergraduates program. Mike’s research centers around how users adapt to the new challenges that ever-evolving, complex, algorithmically driven technology introduce to social and informational processes. His current research in this area includes explorations of how social media users employ folk theories of algorithmic feeds to guide their behavior and determine self-presentation strategy, and how queer and especially non-monosexual, non-binary populations balance disclosure and stigmatization in online spaces that induce challenges related to audience management. Additionally, Mike does work in the critical algorithm studies space around how platforms represent themselves to the public, and the relationship between journalism and the public’s understanding of algorithms. He currently publishes on these topics in venues such as the ACM CHI and CSCW conferences. Mike is also heavily invested in undergraduate and community education, helped establish the Computing Everywhere computational literacy program at Northwestern, and serves as a founding member of the Chicago Bisexual Health Taskforce. Outside of academia, he is mostly about cats, wizards, memes, loud guitar music, and space.

Research: To achieve their goals while avoiding pitfalls ranging from embarrassment to stigmatization and physical threats, users of social platforms with algorithmically-driven content delivery and discovery systems (e.g., Facebook’s News Feed) must decide how to use the tools platforms afford them as part of the self-presentation process. Despite the fact that these kinds of systems are often opaque, making audiences difficult to predict, users adapt by forming their own folk theories, or lay, socially-constructed conceptions of how a platform works, to guide their subsequent on-platform behavior. However, constant tweaks to content distribution algorithms make the platform landscape an ever-shifting environment with few cues for users as to how and when to adapt. Still, despite the opaque nature of these systems and changes to them, and the limited-cues environment that results, users do appear to adapt. However, our current understanding of this kind of algorithmic adaptation is limited to accounts of initial adaptation and responses to highly visible changes with accompanying public controversies. In my dissertation work, I will pursue a detailed understanding of the everyday adaptations that users may make to keep up with rapid and sometimes subtle changes to these systems using self-presentation and audience management as an illustrative case.

Easley, William Berkley

Biography: William Easley is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Human-Centered Computing Program in the Department of Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His broad research interests are in the area of computer-supported cooperative work. His dissertation research seeks to understand how youth collaborate in technical workplaces and investigate how technology can be better designed to address challenges that they may encounter. Prior to working on this topic, he has conducted research in other areas including accessibility and engineering education. During his graduate studies, William has received several awards including a LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate fellowship, HIMSS National Capital Area Chapter scholarship, and Generation Google scholarship. He holds a B.S. degree in Information Systems and a M.S. degree in Human-Centered Computing, both from UMBC.

Research: Digital technologies have had a significant impact on the modern workplace, influencing a trend towards jobs which require knowledge and coordination of complex work. As our work continues to evolve, so does our reliance on informal communication tools which support collaboration. In response to these changes, efforts have been made to re-train our existing workforce (adults) to have the technical and communication skills necessary to be successful. This shifting landscape also presents opportunities to focus on ways to support teenagers – who have grown up immersed with always-connected communication tools) – as they prepare to enter the workplace of the future.

The goal of my dissertation research is to understand the experiences and challenges encountered by teenagers communicating in technical workplaces. This work is situated at a 3D print shop in Baltimore, Maryland which employs high school students as shift-workers. This research utilizes a variety of methods including observations, interviews, and thematic analysis of online messages to develop a rich understanding of this work context and population. Findings will provide insight into how youth adapt to using work-oriented communication tools and provide recommendations for how we can design more thoughtful tools for businesses that leverage the existing skills of our future workers.

Rob Grace

Biography Rob Grace is a PhD Candidate in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University where he works with Dr. Fred Fonseca and Dr. Andrea Tapia. His research lies at the intersection of Crisis and Community Informatics, addressing the incorporation of social media in community emergency response work. In particular, Rob examines opportunities to enhance situational awareness among first responders by integrating information from social media and 9-1-1 callers in emergency dispatch centers. Prior to joining the iSchool at Penn State, he received his Bachelor’s in English and History from Texas A&M University and spent two years abroad teaching English.

Research: Rob’s dissertation involves three phases. First, scenario-based interviews conducted with emergency responders suggest that the lack of staff, tools, and trust often impeding officials’ use of social media can be overcome by coordinating social media monitoring within emergency dispatch centers, Public Safety-Answering Points (PSAPs) with unique infrastructures for verifying and integrating citizen-reported information.

Second, introducing the method of network filtering to infer hyperlocal social networks and collect social media data created by these networks, data was collected using network filtering and existing location and keyword-based approaches during a severe weather emergency. Comparing data collected from each method, network filtering identifies twice as many unique reports of infrastructure damage and service disruption as location and keyword filtering combined- suggesting that multiple data collection methods can significantly expand situational awareness during an emergency.

Felix Hamborg

Biography: I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Computer and Information Science at the University of Konstanz in Germany. My passion is the automated identification of media bias in news articles. Hence, my research focuses on natural language processing, data visualization, and machine learning. My vision is to reduce the strongly negative effects of biased news coverage on individuals and society by enabling everyday news consumers to become aware of media bias easily. One of the publications related to my doctoral research was awarded the Best Student Paper Award at the JCDL 2017; another paper was a Best Paper Award finalist at the iConference 2018.

Before pursuing my Ph.D., I graduated with distinction from the M.Sc. program in Computer and Information Science at the University of Konstanz in 2016. From 2011 to 2013, I worked as a software engineer at IBM. From 2008 to 2011, I completed a B.Sc. degree in Computer Science in Mannheim, Germany. I have completed four internships at the research divisions of IBM and HP Enterprise in the US, and the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo, Japan.

Research: My doctoral research aims to identify media bias in news coverage automatically. Specifically, I plan to devise methods that are capable of identifying instances of bias by word choice and labeling in news articles. Bias by word choice and labeling occurs when news outlets use different terms to refer to the same semantic concept, such as an actor or action. This way, instances of bias by word choice and labeling can induce strongly divergent emotional responses from readers, such as the terms “illegal aliens” vs. “undocumented immigrants.” I plan to devise methods to identify such instances in a set of articles reporting on the same event, and afterward develop a system that visualizes the found instances of media bias.

In 2018, I published a literature review that showed that there is much potential in media bias research when combining the expertise from the different scientific disciplines involved. Due to the topic’s interdisciplinarity, I plan to combine the (1) expertise established in the social sciences regarding the manual analysis of media bias with (2) fast and automated text analysis methods from computational linguistics, and (3) data visualization techniques established in computer science.

Jean Hardy

Biography: Jean Hardy (he/him/his) is a PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information, where he is also a Rackham Merit Fellow. Jean is a certificate student in the Program on Science, Technology, and Society and a member of the Tech.Culture.Matters. Research Collective. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Washington and a Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan.

Jean’s research uses ethnographic and participatory design methods to understand how people use information and communication technologies for community formation and economic development in the rural Midwestern United States. He has a background working in LGBTQ student centers on college campuses, as well as in community organizing around issues of class, labor, and sexuality. When he isn’t knee-deep in his dissertation fieldwork, he is spending time with his partner and their dogs, goats, chickens, and ducks on their hobby farm in Northeast Wisconsin.

Research: Contemporary economic movements and discourse on innovation and entrepreneurship have taken the United States by storm leading to increased interest and funding for programs such as business accelerators and coding boot camps. In rural areas, it has spurred a scramble to leverage proximity to nature and affordable cost of living to attract “nesting Millennials,” or a new generation of remote tech workers, small business owners, and outdoor enthusiasts. Meanwhile, many rural areas still face issues related to depopulation, access to specialized healthcare services, broadband access, and other issues that would seemingly dampen these efforts.

With this in mind, my research asks, how do rural areas seek to reframe and reinvent themselves through contemporary modes of entrepreneurship and technological advancement? To do this, I am conducting an ethnographic study of a rural region of the Upper Midwestern United States. Through prolonged engagement with economic developers, regional planners, civic leaders, and community organizations, I seek to understand how communities support practices related to innovation and technology while simultaneously addressing local issues that are amplified by rurality and remoteness (e.g., aging infrastructure, collapsing tax bases). In doing so, I hope to inform ongoing research and policy-making at the intersection of rurality and technology.

Fiona Jardine

Biography: Fiona Jardine is a lactation consultant, a postpartum doula, and an Information Studies PhD candidate at the University of Maryland’s iSchool. She is conducting pioneering research into the experiences of those who exclusively pump (EP) breast milk. She is exploring why EPers initiate and cease exclusive pumping, what their information behaviors and support needs are and whether they change over time, and what their lived experiences are and in what ways can they be improved. However, she is able to provide insights into many different aspects of EPing thanks to the breadth of the data she collected.

As an ALPP Advanced Lactation Consultant and postpartum doula, Fiona provides the support that she believes is so desperately needed, especially in the fourth trimester. She recently redesigned the breastfeeding symbol to be inclusive of both nursing at the breast and pumping (see Fiona enjoys crafting, is an ardent animal lover, and is progressively failing to live up to the English stereotype of drinking lots of tea as she increasingly realizes that coffee is life. Find out more about Fiona on her website.

Research: Most parents want to feed human milk, the optimal nutrient, to their infant. However, a variety of barriers to breastfeeding exist which reduce its initiation, exclusivity, and duration. Exclusive pumping (EPing)—only expressing milk and not directly nursing at the breast—provides a solution to many breastfeeding difficulties while still providing the benefits of feeding human milk. Despite the increasing rates of EPing, there is very little data about it. Through online, cross-sectional, retrospective surveys, my study has collected data on the lived experiences of EPers, including why they exclusively pump, where they find information, what support they get, how they feel, and what problems they have. This study will identify strategies to improve the information and support provided to EPers, as well as reveal the practical and emotional issues faced during the postpartum period. These findings will support evidence-based change to breastfeeding policy and practice; change that will increase the initiation, exclusivity, duration of breastfeeding and therefore promote child and parental wellbeing, as well as improve the lived experiences of EPers and the practice of EPing more generally.

Priya Kumar

Biography: Priya Kumar is a doctoral candidate at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Her dissertation research focuses on the privacy and surveillance implications of parents posting information about their children online. She is also part of research teams that explore how elementary school children conceptualize privacy online and how people navigate privacy issues related to mobile devices, such as fitness trackers and intelligent personal assistants. Priya has published research in various journals and conferences proceedings in human-computer interaction, information, communication, and internet studies. Her research has been referenced on NPR, Buzzfeed, Slate, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, and Time.

Before returning to the University of Maryland, Priya worked on the Ranking Digital Rights project, which evaluates the world’s largest technology companies on their respect for users’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Priya holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan School of Information, where she designed her own curriculum in data storytelling. She also holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland in journalism and government & politics, as well as a minor in Spanish. Find Priya on Twitter @DearPriya and at

Research: Today’s generation of children is the first to inherit their digital identities. Their parents, who often use social media to communicate and gain social support, contribute to children’s digital footprint every time they post a cute picture or funny video of them online. And when expectant parents share sonogram images online, this digital footprint predates a child’s birth. Priya Kumar’s research examines the privacy and surveillance implications of parents creating a child’s digital footprint. She frames this practice as a form of datafication and argues that it offers a useful lens for considering the implications of surveillance capitalism. This term refers to an economic logic in which companies see the collection, analysis, and retention of extensive, granular amounts of user information as the key to generating revenue and controlling markets. With her dissertation, Priya aims to connect the day-to-day presence of social media in parents’ lives with broader narratives about the role of digital technology (and the companies that own them) in social life. To do so, Priya uses a variety of qualitative methods, focusing primarily on interviews and discourse analysis of media coverage as well as multimedia content posted on social media.

Mahdi M. Najafabadi

Biography: Mahdi M. Najafabadi is a PhD candidate in University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY). His research is mainly on sustainable policymaking and social networks analysis. Mahdi has received his bachelors in Software Engineering from the University or Tehran, and has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Sharif University of Technology, as well as a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the University at Albany in IT Strategy and Management.
Mahdi believes that there is a large gap hence a huge potential in the topics above, reinforced by the continuous and accelerating advances in informational technologies. He uses Systems Thinking and Dynamic Simulation Modeling in his research for their capability of mapping mental models, guiding conversations and agreements among different and sometimes competing stakeholders, fast-forwarding to the future to understand the long-term results of a hypothetical decision or situation, and the degree of freedom that it allows in searching in the solution space to a problem. Mahdi also uses Graph Theory and Social Network Analysis concepts for his social media research track, and is working on converging it towards his open data research track, as he believes that the there is a big potential that social media can enhance open data initiatives.

Research: Opening data initiatives aim to bridge the road to creating value from government data. However, just opening the datasets is not enough for a successful open data initiative. Recently, the notion of ‘ecosystem’ is used for having a holistic view to open government data communities (OGDE). Through my research, I aim to use this perspective to uncover the actors’ relationships with and feedbacks on each other, to contribute to definitions and explanations of success and failure modes in open data initiatives.

I want to build a simulation model that can explore success and failure modes of open data initiatives, for the New York State’s (NYS) Foodservice Establishments’ Inspection program (FSEI) community, under the NYS Department of Health (DOH). My data is based on interviews with the different field experts or other type of stakeholders.

I have used a mixed-method approach towards this research, rooted in Grounded Theory. I am using System Dynamics (SD) to model this case. SD that has strengths in depicting the internal structure of complex closed-loop systems in terms of stocks, flows and feedback loops and seems like a good choice for the ‘ecosystem’ perspective to open data initiatives.

Shawn Martin

Biography: Shawn Martin is an Integrated Doctoral Education with Application to Scholarly Communication (IDEASc) Fellow at Indiana University Bloomington and a doctoral candidate in information science and the history and philosophy of science and medicine. IDEASc is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to further scholarship and practice in the area of scholarly communication. Shawn’s dissertation utilizes both historical and computational methods to research the formation of professional scientific associations and their accompanying journals in the United States during the nineteenth century.

Prior to coming to Indiana University, Shawn received a B.A. in history from Ohio State University and M.A. in history from the College of William and Mary. He has also worked as the scholarly communication librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, an adjunct professor at the College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University, and in multiple digital humanities projects at the University of Michigan, the Ohio Historical Society, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Shawn has also served as the executive director of the American Association for History and Computing, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, and in leadership roles in many other professional associations including both ASIS&T and ALA.

Research: My historical research and my dissertation focus on the origins of the American scholarly communication in the nineteenth-century. I am investigating the ways that the organization of the scientific profession (associations, influential figures, and institutions) influenced communication patterns (the major scientific journals and proceedings). Overall, I hope to show how “power” over scholarly communication (or control of what science gets communicated and who gets to communicate it) began in the United States.

So far, my research has begun to demonstrate the origins of scientific power and inequality within the scholarly communication system. In the future, I need to expand this research. Currently I have looked at only a small number of scientific disciplines and a limited number of journals. I would like to expand my research into other disciplines and into the humanities. After I have been able to achieve a more expansive understanding of the origins of scholarly communication in the U.S., I intend to move the story forward to the present, and better understand how those origins influenced the evolution of scholarly communication. I hope that my work can eventually play a role in shaping an understanding of past decisions for future generations.

Rebecca Noone

Biography: Rebecca Noone is an artist and a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her research explores contemporary conditions of locative-media with focus on wayfinding and navigation. Situated in the field of Information Studies as an artist and researcher, she brings together performance-based research-creation and drawing-based visual methods to produce exploratory empirical research. Noone has presented her work at academic conferences, artist residencies, and project spaces including: the International Visual Methodologies Conference 2015, 2017 (Brighton, UK, Singapore, SG); the 2014 iConference (Berlin, GR); the Universities Arts Association of Canada Conference 2017, 2018 (Banff, AB, Waterloo, ON); the NES Artist Residency (Skagaströnd, Iceland); the Luminary Artist Residency (St. Louis, MO); the Elsewhere Residency (Greensboro, NC); and the YTB Gallery (Toronto, ON). She has contributed to publications such as Visual Methodologies, Qualitative Research, and the Journal for Education in Library and Information Sciences.

Research: My research explores how location and navigation is visualized at street level in relation to the affordances of mediating digital mapping technologies, specifically that by proprietary platforms such as Google Maps. I use drawing-based visual methods to collect hand-drawn route directions, spontaneously produced in situ – as a means to explore how location-awareness and wayfinding information is used, made sense of, and represented at street level, as well as to observe the on-the-ground strategies of orientation in cities.

Working at the intersections of information behaviours and practices, the phenomenology of space, and the real-time visualization of one’s location, I employ arts-based research, influenced by a 1960s artwork by conceptual artist Stanley Brouwn. In my work, I approached people at street-level in Toronto, New York Amsterdam, and London for directions followed by the question: could you draw that for me? These encounters used spontaneous drawings as a means to evaluate the real-time mediation of urban experiences by way of locative-media and drawing as a means to capture the visualization of space. The results have implications for better understanding how everyday knowledges can be constituted by and generated from pervasive forms of proprietary mapping information and its visual constructs.

Firaz Ahmed Peer

Biography: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, after which I built web platforms for Fortune 500 companies. Interacting with the customers got me interested in understanding the human side of how and why people use technology. This is when I read Don Norman’s book on the Design of Everyday Things, which convinced me that Human Computer Interaction was my true calling. I applied and got accepted into Georgia Tech’s HCI program, where I worked with Dr. Ali Mazalek to build tangible and embodied interfaces. For my master’s thesis, I was inspired by Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller’s concept of Exertion Interfaces and prototyped a system that studied the kinds of technologies that would make a throwing game more engaging for children.

After graduation I spent a couple of years as a User Experience Designer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where I designed, researched and prototyped both mobile and web interfaces. This work although fulfilling, didn’t offer the opportunity for me to study the social impact that these technologies were having on people. This is what prompted me to go back to school to get a PhD in Digital Media at Georgia Tech.

Research: My PhD research has focused on examining the ways in which technologies and information artifacts construct and are in turn constructed by the communities they are designed for. Informed by theories within Science and Technology Studies, my work allows me to combine methods from the fields of participatory design and anthropology when studying communities and technologies. For my dissertation, I focused on studying the infrastructures that were involved in bringing a community indicator data dashboard to fruition.

The Communities Who Know (CWK) Data Dashboard is a data dashboard built to support residents of the Westside neighborhoods in Atlanta in their civic engagement efforts. The dashboard includes data about the Westside community’s demographics, education, crime, health, environment, jobs, transportation etc, which can be used to analyze the current state of affairs and also advocate for change. In unpacking the socio-technical black boxes that are associated with the CWK dashboard I hoped to answer the following research question: How does a socio-technical analysis of the Communities Who Know Data Dashboard impact the way we understand and use it? The results from this work will contribute to theory in the field of infrastructure studies, and to practice within community informatics.

Jennifer Pierre

Biography: Jennifer Pierre is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, pursuing research in the areas of computer-mediated communication and social informatics. Her work broadly examines how people use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to form and maintain communities. Specifically, she studies how youth and other groups use social media for social support, and how various communities use data to facilitate communal activism and social change. Jennifer is a co-founding member of the Southern California Climate Data Protection Project, a current member of the Participation Lab, and a former member of the UC Digital Cultures Lab. She has a B.S. in Communication with concentrations in Information Technology and Psychology from Cornell University.

Jennifer’s dissertation explores the intersection of social media and social support for at-risk youth, within the context of after-school and summer youth development programs. In this and previous work she has used a variety of qualitative and mixed methods, including ethnography, content analysis, statistical analysis, semi-structured interviews, and surveys. Her work has been published in Big Data & Society, the proceedings of HICSS, and InterActions. In addition to her research experience, Jennifer has extensive professional and service experience in social media management, instructional design, and diversity and equity related issues.

Research: Jennifer’s dissertation title is One Big Digital Family: Examining Social Media and Social Support in the Development of “At-Risk” Youth. Jennifer’s dissertation research explores the role of social media use in the social development of “at-risk” youth in Los Angeles, CA and Lafayette, IN. A major goal of this research is to use gained knowledge of long-term digital and social media use as a new source for beneficially addressing the social support needs of youth and adolescents. This will ideally ultimately aid in their successful assimilation into adulthood. This study employs ethnographic methods of semi-structured interviews and participant observation, using 9-15 year old members of the Santa Monica and Lafayette Boys & Girls Clubs as a sample of designated “at-risk” or marginalized youth in the U.S. A central focus of this dissertation is the potential use of knowledge around Boys & Girls Clubs participants’ media use to supplement or inform Club activities and enhance social support. These outcomes are especially significant in after-school settings where gaps in education or family based social resources are identified. Findings may be of particular interest to areas of computer-mediated communication, human-computer interaction, social psychology of interpersonal relationships, and developmental psychology, with additional implications for youth service development and policy and research at the intersection of technology and well-being.

Laura E. Ridenour

Biography: Laura Ridenour is a PhD Candidate at the School of Information Studies and member of the Knowledge Organization Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her doctoral concentration is Information Organization; she is advised by Professor Richard Smiraglia and is an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship recipient. She previously earned her Masters in Information Science from Indiana University Bloomington.

Laura was an invited speaker at the 2016 COST KNOWeSCAPE workshop on Alternative and Tailored Metrics in Warsaw, Poland. She co-organized the 2017 North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization and the 2017 and 2018 ASIS&T SIG/CR workshops. She is currently serving as President for the International Society of Knowledge Organization, Canada/United States, and Secretary/Treasurer for the Association for Information Science and Technology SIG/CR (Classification Research). She worked summer 2018 as a LEADS-4-NDP data science fellow with the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Laura’s research examines conceptual overlap and divergence using the sociological notion of the boundary object to examine interdisciplinary areas of science. Her work incorporates themes and methods from knowledge organization, philosophy of science, infometrics, and natural language processing.

Research: My research investigates concepts that inhabit multiple conceptual spaces. I do this using the theoretical notion of the boundary object, as developed by Star and Griesemer in 1989. I frame boundary-inhabiting conceptual entities as terminological, document, and author entities that are extractable and can be examined against the framework of a classificatory system. Reasons for studying boundaries and interdisciplinarity include an increased interest in interdisciplinarity from a funding standpoint, studies demonstrating that most innovation occurs at the boundaries of science, and the creation of ways to translate and share knowledge for more efficient cross-disciplinary work.

In my work, I harmonize technical approaches with theoretical underpinnings to create a richer understanding of the complex nature of the interdisciplinary research area of cognitive science synthesizing theoretical underpinnings from philosophy of science and knowledge organization with more technical methods and approaches from informetrics and data science. Long term, I see my work as being beneficial for the development of more flexible classification systems, and the analysis of complex topical data.

Gretchen Renee Stahlman

Biography: Gretchen Stahlman is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Arizona’s School of Information. She holds a Master of Science degree in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and she previously worked as a documentation specialist for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope project in United States and Chile. As a doctoral student, Gretchen has participated in several projects exploring cyberinfrastructure strategies for “Long Tail” datasets in several disciplines, including assisting in establishing the Astrolabe repository and computing environment for astronomy data. Gretchen also served as a Research Development Fellow in the University of Arizona’s Office for Research, Discovery & Innovation during the 2015-16 academic year. Most recently, Gretchen was selected as a 2018 LEADS Fellow through the IMLS-funded LEADS-4-NDP program. Gretchen’s dissertation research focuses on identifying indicators of uncurated data associated with the scholarly literature in astronomy.

Research: As research datasets and analyses grow in complexity, substantial data that could be valuable to other researchers and to support the integrity of published work remain hidden and uncurated across disciplines. These “dark” data are considered to be especially concentrated in the Long Tail of funded research, where curation resources and related expertise are often inaccessible. In the domain of astronomy, much data are well-curated in trusted archives. However, other data products – for example, intermediate analyses derived from telescope data, as well raw and derivative data from smaller projects and instruments – often remain undiscoverable. My dissertation project – “Exploring the Long Tail of Astronomy: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Searching for Dark Data” – captures disciplinary expertise and insights into the research practices, institutional influences and data infrastructures of astronomers to inform the development of heuristics for locating indicators of underlying astronomical data in the text of scholarly articles and associated metadata and bibliographic information, with an overall objective to facilitate curation of currently-inaccessible and potentially-useful data. This project builds on the “Astrolabe” cyberinfrastructure project, which has found that much dark data exist in astronomy for reasons such as lack of resources, changes in computational technology over time, and disciplinary norms.

Megan Threats

Biography: Megan Threats is a Doctoral Candidate in Information Science at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She studies health information behavior, digital health, and the use of information and technology for the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Threats is a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Millennium Scholar, and a member of the Behavior and Technology Lab in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Threats worked to leverage information and technology to improve the HIV prevention, treatment, and care outcomes of communities most affected by HIV in Philadelphia. She developed HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and treatment programs aimed at increasing HIV testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis use among youth living in Philadelphia as a certified HIV/AIDS Educator for the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and served as the Public Services and Reference Librarian at the AIDS Library of Philadelphia. Threats earned her MSLIS from Syracuse University, and a dual BA in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, and Comparative Cultures and Politics from Michigan State University.

Research: This dissertation project will use a mixed methods approach to examine how information behaviors and technologies may influence the adoption of HIV risk reduction behaviors among young, Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM). It will explore how and where YBMSM seek, encounter, and use HIV/STI-related information, and how technologies such as mobile phones and geo-social dating applications have influenced these information behaviors. Finally, it will examine the relationship between these factors and the utilization of repeat screening for HIV and other STIs, treatment of HIV and other STIs, and initiation and adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Possessing health information is necessary, but not sufficient on its own for health behavior change. This disjuncture is referred to as the “knowledge-behavior gap” (Case & Given, 2016, p. 341; Sligo & Jameson, 2000). An opportunity exists to use technologies to facilitate health behavior change and close the knowledge-behavior gap. For example, a user of a mobile dating application may obtain an HIV test after receiving an in-app reminder to be tested, along with a list of nearby HIV testing locations. Given the importance of HIV risk reduction behaviors for minimizing HIV risk, increasing efforts to understand how these understudied factors impact their utilization among YBMSM is imperative.

Benjamin Xie

Biography: Benjamin Xie is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington Information School, advised by Dr. Andrew J. Ko in the Code & Cognition Lab. Benjamin’s research interest is in designing and developing interactions that have learners and intelligent agents collaborate to make learning computing more equitable. This work spans the areas of human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computing education. His vision is to model how people learn programming to develop personalized online learning experiences where the learner is in control. He is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and was previously an MIT EECS-Google Research and Innovation Scholar. He received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in computer science from MIT. At MIT, he researched how developing apps with MIT App Inventor related to learning computational thinking skills.

Research: Benjamin Xie’s research involves designing, developing, and evaluating interactive intelligent learning technologies for equitable computing education. His goal is to design and implement interactions where diverse learners collaborate with intelligent agents to accomplish more than either the learner or the system could alone. Learning tools are only as good as their pedagogy, so he first investigated how explicit instruction could improve how we teach introductory computer science. This work included developing and evaluating a new theory of instruction which improved instruction of introductory programming by structuring and sequencing distinct programming skills.

Benjamin’s current work involves understanding the effects of affording learners agency when navigating adaptive learning experiences. He is developing a tool with which learners can decide what they want to learn next while also getting feedback and recommendations from an intelligent agent. This mixed-initiative design can support learners without prescribing them a learning pathway. He predicts that empowering learners to take ownership of their own learning while also having the support of an intelligent agent enables a greater diversity of learning experiences and more equitable learning. This work involves considerations of how models represent and adapt to learners’ evolving understanding and how the interface conveys information to learners.

Juan Xie

Biography: Juan Xie is a Ph.D. student at School of Information Management at Nanjing University, China, and is advised by Prof. Ying Cheng. She received her bachelor degree in medical informatics from Xiangya Medical School, at Central South University, China. In her first two years of Ph.D. study, she employed quantitative methods to investigate the patterns of scholarly communication. She conducted two meta-analyses investigating the relationships between article features and citations, and worked on a new language model using neural networking. She also combined informetric and information behavior research with cited reference analysis, based on Taylor’s theory of Information Use Environment. Working with her colleagues, she explored the information practices of backpackers using interviews and Grounded Theory.

She is now working with Prof. Gary Burnett at iSchool of Florida State University, U.S.A., as a visiting scholar. Her current research focuses on the practice of mothers’ health information behavior. She seeks to build a mid-range model to explain their parenting-related information behavior in online social context with meta-synthesis. Additionally, her research interests cover the interpretations of human behavior from the perspectives of psychology, sociology, and philosophy.

Research: Citation context analysis and survey have been used for studying the motivations for citing and the function of references. Less attention, however, has been paid to authors’ citing behavior itself or its influencing factors. While informetric research has found out many possible factors affecting the number of citations, little is known about whether authors actually chose these factors as relevance criteria. Thus, this doctoral project focuses on citing behavior from the perspective of authors.

Citing behavior is a kind of information use behavior. Therefore, its characteristics and influencing factors can be explored based on the theory of Information Use Environment. This project operationalized the first three elements in IUE as the features of authors, their institutional environments and research problems. The fourth element, features of references, was measured according to cited references analysis. After regression tests, it has been found that, for example: (1) Higher educated authors prefer citing more publications with high quality and they also prefer conference papers as well as foreign-language publications. (2) Younger, male authors cite more and they rely on a variety of information resources. This project further seeks to explore the social aspects of information use in scholarly communities. It also includes working on the authors themselves through questionnaires to explore their criteria when citing information.

Yaxing Yao

Biography: My name is Yaxing Yao. I am a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Previously, I received a Master of Science in Information Management from the University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China. My research interest lies in the intersection of usable privacy and Human-Computer Interaction. In my past research, I looked at people’s privacy perceptions and concerns in emerging technologies, such as drones and Bluetooth beacons, then designed and evaluated privacy-enhancing mechanisms to protect people’s privacy. My dissertation research is looking into privacy issues in smart homes. In particular, I aim to understand users’ perceptions of privacy and their needs for privacy protection in smart homes through mix methods approach, e.g., interviews, design studies, and system building. My work has been published at top HCI and privacy conferences, e.g., CHI, CSCW, PETS.

Research: Given the recent development of smart home and the emerging privacy issues in it, in my dissertation, I propose a privacy awareness and recommendation system for smart homes. The development of the system will be divided into four stages, 1) a participatory design study with smart home users, 2) the implementation of a privacy awareness and recommendation system, and 3) the system evaluation. Four primary functions will be built into the system, 1) capture individual user’s privacy preferences of smart home devices considering different contextual parameters (e.g., location, time, the social relationship such as husband/wife, children/parents, owner/visitors) and different scenarios (e.g., home security monitoring, guest visiting), 2) identify the privacy risks of a smart home environment through a smart home testbed, 3) notify users through a variety of ways (e.g., audio cues, visualizations, physical objects), and 4) provide concrete recommendations on how to configure smart home devices settings based on the users’ privacy preferences.

This research will contribute to understanding different users’ desired privacy mechanisms in smart homes, designing and implementing a privacy awareness and recommendation system, and drawing high-level principles of designing privacy awareness systems more broadly.

Zhiya Zuo

Biography: I am a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics at the University of Iowa. My dissertation committee members are Dr. Kang Zhao (chair), Dr. Chaoqun Ni, Dr. Nick Street, Dr. David Eichmann, and Dr. Patrick Barlow. The title of my dissertation is Investigating Research Collaboration with Large-Scale Scholarly Data. I have passed my proposal defense and expect to defend my dissertation in May 2019. My research interests span different areas in the multidisciplinary field of data science, including collaboration and teamwork at organization and individual levels, supply chain management, topic modeling algorithms, , online health communities, team success in open source software projects, and data mining methods. To support these studies, I utilize various computational and quantitative methods, including data and text mining, predictive modeling, social network analytics, regression analysis, and agent-based simulations. During the summer of 2017, I participated in the Complex Systems Summer School hosted by Santa Fe Institute. I was a visiting research assistant supervised by Dr. Kristina Lerman at the Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California in the summer of 2018.


My dissertation research investigates collaboration with large-scale scholarly data. From an organizational perspective, I study the prevalence and knowledge integration of collaboration in institutions with diverse compositions. Analyzing data of over 100 academic institutions from information science, policy, and neuroscience, I find a paradox of diversity and collaboration. On one hand, a more diverse institution does not necessarily mean a more collaborative one. On the other hand, diversity helps to foster knowledge integration. We suggest that for a diverse organization, more coordination, management, and incentives may be necessary to fully exploit the potential benefits of diversity. At the individual level, I study the effect of collaboration on placement quality. Going beyond individual characteristics, we investigate how interplay among people affects hiring outcome, including past connection (weak/strong social ties) and potential fit with the existing organization members. Using computer science faculty hiring data, we find a positive effect of weak social ties on placement quality. While strong ties have no direct effect, more emphasis lies on performance for candidates with higher-status strong ties, whereas education and fit are more important for those with lower-status ones. Finally, fit shows diminishing returns where overfitting brings little value for job placement.

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Funding Acknowledgement

The iConference Doctoral Colloquium is partly supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency created by the United States Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defence…”

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