School of Information Sciences - Alumni & Friends

Doctoral Alumni Profiles

Please note: All content was accurate at the time of publication, but may not reflect the most current achievements of these alumni.

Bella Karr Gerlich, PhD

Title:  Professor and Dean
Employer: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Degree:  PhD (Library and Information Science)
Graduation year: 2006

Bella Karr Gerlich is Professor and Dean of Libraries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Land, Sea and Space Grant Institution. Gerlich has a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a PhD Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, where she taught management courses for the MLIS program. She draws experience from prior appointments as University Librarian at Dominican University, Associate University Librarian at Georgia College & State University, and Head, Arts & Special Collections at Carnegie Mellon University. Gerlich oversees all aspects of the Libraries’ academic and administrative programs and services, is an advisor to the UAF rural campuses, and fosters state, national, and international partnerships for the Libraries.

Gerlich is active in the profession, serving in committee and leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels. Gerlich is an engaged researcher; her interests include assessment, organizational behavior, and valuation of services; she has authored / co-authored a number of peer-reviewed publications, is a frequent guest lecturer, presents at professional venues both in the U.S. and abroad and enjoys mentoring students.

As both administrator and researcher, Gerlich has worked to identify, quantify, and acknowledge the hidden work done by library staff through the development of a qualitative data-gathering methodology that can be normalized across institutions. Inspired by her dissertation research at SIS (Work in Motion / Assessment at Rest: An Attitudinal Study of Academic Reference Librarians), Gerlich created the READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data -, a 1 - 6 scale for recording the effort, knowledge, skill, and teaching that occur during reference transactions. More than 100 libraries worldwide have self-identified their use of the tool, which has been incorporated as a free option in both Springshare (LibAnalytics) and Compendium LLC (Desk Tracker) data analysis products. The Scale will be included in the upcoming book ‘Implementing and Inclusive Staffing Model for 21st Century Reference Services: A Practical Guide’ by Julia Nims, and an article co-authored with G. Lynn Berard “Testing the Viability of the READ Scale: Qualitative Statistics for Academic Reference Services” was selected for inclusion in the Reference Research Review for 2010, an annual bibliography that focuses on annotating items of importance to the practice of reference. The READ Scale was featured on the Medical Library Association website and has been the subject of numerous presentations by professionals in the field. In addition to ongoing promotion of the READ Scale, Gerlich’s current research agenda includes collaboration with other libraries to test her LEAD Scale (Library Effort Assessment Data) that evolves the 1 – 6 scale tool beyond reference transactions to record qualitative data across all library work functions.

Yang XuYang Xu, PhD

Title: Computer Science Department Head
Employer: University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
Degree:  PhD
Graduation year: 2007

In 2001, Yang Xu received a Master of Automation, with honors, from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences in 2007. After completing his doctoral studies, he joined the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008 and in 2010 he became the Head of the Computer Science Department.

Xu’s research focuses on distributed artificial intelligence and multi-agent and multi-robot systems. He has made contributions to the area of multi-agent coordination, human-robot teamwork, intelligent information systems, and semantic machine-to-machine and has authored over 80 technical publications. His paper “Integrated Token-Based Algorithm for Scalable Coordination," co-authored with Michael Lewis, Paul Scerri, and Katia Sycara was on the “shortlist” for best overall paper award at the fourth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2005).

As a principal investigator, Xu has received more than 20 research funds from the National Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, and Huawei Ltd. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Software (in Chinese) and is a member of the professional boards of Artificial Intelligence and Pattern Recognition in the Chinese Computer Federation, as well as the Distributed Intelligence and Knowledge Engineering in the Chinese Association of AI. Xu also served on the program committee of the leading conferences AAMAS and IJCAI and was program chair of the international conference on the Principles and Practice of Multi-agent Systems (PRIMA 2014). 

Douglas C. Sicker, PhD

Title: Department Head and Professor
Employer: Carnegie Mellon University
Degree:  MST, PhD
Graduation year: 1972, 2001

Douglas C. Sicker has held various positions in academia, industry, and government. Doug is currently the Department Head and Professor of Engineering and Public Policy with a joint appointment in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, Doug was the DBC Endowed Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder with a joint appointment in, and Director of, the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program. Doug recently served as the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Advisor for Spectrum at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Doug also served as the Chief Technology Officer of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and prior to this he served as a senior advisor on the FCC National Broadband Plan. Earlier he was Director of Global Architecture at Level 3 Communications, Inc. In the late 1990s, Doug served as Chief of the Network Technology Division at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Doug is an active member of the IEEE, the ACM and the Internet Society. He served as 1) an advisor to the Department of Justice National Institute of Justice; 2) the Chair of the FCC Network Reliability and Interoperability Council steering committee; 3) an advisor on the Technical Advisory Council of the FCC. He also served as a chair in the IEEE P1900 working group and was involved in various contributions to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He has served as the chair of several conferences as well as on numerous program committees. Doug has published extensively in the fields of networking, wireless systems, network security, and network policy and has maintained a well-funded research program through NSF, DARPA and other sources. Read more here.

Steven S. Choi, PhD

Title: Mayor
Employer: City of Irvine, California
Degree:  PhD
Graduation year: 1976

Steven Choi received his PhD in April 1976 from the School of Information Sciences. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as an assistant professor at the University of Southern California. Choi’s doctoral committee chairman, Dr. Daily, told him that his PhD was the gateway to the world. This turned out to be true as it paved the way to his success in Southern California and eventually leading him to public service. Choi is now serving the City of Irvine as Mayor for the second term after two terms as a city councilman and six years as a school board member.

Choi says that his political journey is still in progress. Currently, he is running for an assembly seat in the California state legislature, and if elected, would become the first California state legislator among Pitt’s School of Information Sciences alumni.

Choi believes that “once a librarian, forever a librarian.” Over the course of his career, he has served in many library-related capacities. Currently, he is assisting the City of Irvine in the development plan for a metropolitan library at the Cultural Terrace of the Orange County Great Park.

Choi resides in Irvine with his wife, Janie, who is an educator. They have two grown children: Daniel, an anesthesiologist, and Michelle, an attorney. 

Tim Schlak, PhD

Title: Director
Employer: Robert Morris University Library
Degree:  MLIS, PhD (Library and Information Science)
Graduation year: 2007, 2010

Tim Schlak is the Director of the Robert Morris University Library. Prior to this appointment, he served as Director of the DeWitt Library at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. At Northwestern, Schlak spearheaded the DeWitt Learning Commons project, a 58,000 square foot, $13.5 million state-of-the-art learning facility.

He also served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Iowa Private Academic Libraries consortium. He earned his PhD and MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Sciences, as well as an MA from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Jae-Wook Ahn, PhD

Jae-Wook Ahn, PhD

Title: Data Scientist
Employer: IBM Watson Life Group
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation Year: 2010

Jae-wook is a Data Scientist at IBM Watson Life Group.  He is currently participating in a project called Chef Watson, which is an attempt to create and recommend new recipes by leveraging IBM super computer Watson's artificial intelligence and natural language processing power. He specializes in information visualization, human-computer interaction, personalized search, and recommender systems.  Before joining IBM, he received his PhD from the School of Information Sciences, where he was a member of the PAWS (Personalized Adaptive Web Systems) Lab. While pursuing his PhD, he published a number of papers with his advisor Professor Peter Brusilovsky at premier conferences and in journals such as World Wide Web 2007/2008, UMAP (User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization) 2010, Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI) 2015, Web Intelligence (WI) and IP&M (Information Processing and Management).

After graduation, he was selected as a prestigious NSF-CRA Computing Innovation Fellow in 2010 and worked with Professor Ben Shneiderman at the University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab.  The fellowship supported outstanding new computer science or information science PhDs in their post-doctoral research.  Jae-wook’s work on network evolution visualization was published at conferences and in a journal.  In particular, his IEEE TVCG (Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics) article was selected as the “Highlight of the Month” by the journal editors. Jae-wook was invited to present at the ACM SIGGRAPH Asia Conference in 2014.  He has also worked as a Data Scientist at Drexel University and published papers on knowledge visualization. Learn more about Jae-wook.

Martijn de Jongh, PhD

Martijn de Jongh, PhD

Title: Data Scientist
Employer: Facebook
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation Year: 2014

Martijn de Jongh joined Facebook’s infrastructure department in May 2014 as a data scientist. His responsibilities include helping Facebook’s engineers speed up the mobile apps and analyzing and modeling global internet infrastructure for, an effort led by Facebook to connect the world to the internet.

During his doctoral studies, Martijn was a student of professor Druzdzel and a member of the iSchool’s Decision Systems Laboratory, where he contributed to the lab’s SMILE and GeNIe software projects. His research was focused on machine learning algorithms for learning the graphical structure of Bayesian networks. In his doctoral dissertation, he proposed MapReduce based algorithms for learning Bayesian network graph structures from data sets with large numbers of variables. Additionally, he has been part of NSF- and DARPA-funded research projects on social network analysis and big data approaches to machine learning.

Maria Harrington, PhD

Title: Founder and CEO
Employer: Virtual Field Trips, LLC
Degree: MSIS, PhD (Information Science)
Graduation Year: 1990, 2008

Maria Harrington (MSIS ’90, PhD ’08) was featured in the spring 2015 issue of Shady Ave Magazine for her dissertation research. Dr. Harrington’s dissertation, defended and published in 2008, “Simulated Ecological Environments for Education (SEEE): A Tripartite Model Framework of HCI Design Parameters for Situational Learning in Virtual Environments,” investigated the empirical inter-relationships between humans, computers, and the environment. 

Harrington states, “The contribution of my dissertation provided a new approach to the question of learning in virtual reality, not from the long-standing educational pedagogy or philosophical paradigm of “immersion” or “presence,” nor the new “gamification” approach of serious games. Instead, I focused on the design factors in the system, isolated those factors, measured their impact, and reported the results. I adopted a human-computer environment interaction and a human information processing view, rather than “educational systems to meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century” perspective, and showed that the historical focus on the “educational outcomes and standards” left relevant human-computer interaction and system design factors understudied. This approach brings the focus of students’ needs, teachers’ abilities, knowledge stores, context/environment, and the factors of the computer system, such as visual fidelity and navigational freedom, back into the analysis, opening a new direction for an empirical study of the child learning in context, real and virtual.” Read more about her research.

Her new research direction is in the investigation of designing, building, and deploying environments where creative engagement is not just possible, but becomes more likely, especially for the child. As also a CMU-trained artist, she knows this is possible as she creates her own new media art. Read more about The Virtual Trillium Trail.

Sharon Hsiao, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer:  Arizona State University
Degree:  PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year:  2012

The School of Information Sciences (the iSchool) is proud to share the news of iSchool alumna Dr. Sharon Hsiao’s (PhD‘12) new position at Arizona State University. Sharon began her appointment as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics & Decision Systems Engineering in August 2014.

Most recently, Sharon has worked in EdLab in Teachers College at Columbia University as a post-doctoral innovation fellow. She is also affiliated with the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS) program at Columbia as an adjunct Assistant Professor, where she teaches a course (Data Visualization) and supervises several graduate research projects.

Her interests in computational technologies for learning, open social student modeling and computer science education originate from her formative years at the iSchool at Pitt, where she worked with Dr. Peter Brusilovsky in the Personalized Adaptive Web Systems (PAWS) group. Under Dr. Brusilovsky’s guidance, Hsiao had “an amazing experience” working in the PAWS lab and most enjoyed working “collaboratively and independently” with other students to “produce high quality publications yearly, exchange ideas, share passions and support each other every day.”

Tingting Jiang, PhD

Title: Associate Professor
Employer: School of Information Management, Wuhan University
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2010

Tingting Jiang, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Management (iSchool) at Wuhan University. Her current research focuses on information seeking behavior, data analytics, information architecture, and social web. Tingting has been the principle investigator on two research projects funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Baidu, Inc. Her research articles have appeared in the Journal of Documentation, the Journal of Informetrics, and the Journal of Information Science. She was accepted into the Chutian Scholar Program of Hubei Province in 2011 and the 351 Scholar Program of Wuhan University in 2014 for her academic excellence.

As a PhD student at the iSchool at Pitt, Tingting received the Catherine Ofiesh Orner Award in 2009 and 2010 and the Yuan Family Award in 2009 and 2010. She attended a number of professional conferences and presented her research work at WI-IAT 2007, IA Summit 2008, ICIS 2009, and ALISE 2010. She was also a public Reference Services Assistant in the University Library System and a teaching assistant of graduate courses. The iSchool at Pitt  is where Tingting gained knowledge and insights, grew into a devoted researcher, and became prepared for a faculty career. Learn more about Tingting

Yihuang K. Kang, PhD

Yihuang K. Kang, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), Department of Information Management
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2014

Yihuang is an Assistant Professor at the National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. His research interests include temporal data mining, data-intensive process monitoring, complex adaptive information system, and healthcare data analytics.

Qi Li, PhD

Qi Li, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Computer Science Department, Northern Kentucky University (NKU)
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2011

Dr. Qi Li is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). Before joining NKU, she was a research fellow on medical informatics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her research interests include data mining, health informatics, information retrieval, machine learning, and natural language processing. One of Dr. Li’s papers, “Linking medications and their attributes in clinical notes and clinical trial announcements for information extraction: a sequence labeling approach”, won the best paper award at the 2012 IEEE Second International Conference on Healthcare Informatics, Imaging and Systems Biology (HISB). Learn more about Dr. Li.

Yi-Ling (Jennifer) Lin, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Department of Information Management, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2013

Yi-Ling (Jennifer) Lin, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Management at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan. Dr. Lin’s department is part of the College of Management, which became the first AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)-accredited public university in Taiwan.

Dr. Lin has specialized in all aspects of information retrieval and human-computer interaction (HCI). She had an internship at the Free University of Amsterdam where she worked on information issues related to various cultural heritage corpuses. Her dissertation focused on integrating social contributions and professional taxonomies to facilitate information retrieval in the cultural heritage domain. Her recent projects include using eye trackers to study interface elements for facilitating search performance, applying social factors to find experts in healthcare question answering websites, and visualizing healthcare information with advanced interface elements. Dr. Lin has received funding support for her research from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan, Metal Industries Research & Development Centre, and “Aim for the Top University Plan” of the National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan.

Amirreza Masoumzadeh, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor
Employer:  State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany
Degree:  PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year:  2014

The School of Information Sciences (iSchool) is proud to report iSchool alum Amirreza Masoumzadeh’s (PhD‘14) new position at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. Amirreza began his appointment as tenure track Assistant Professor in the Informatics Department in August 2014.

Amirreza chose the iSchool for the close match between his research interests and those of several iSchool faculty members. Broadly, these interests are security and privacy in systems and data, including access and privacy control in systems (social networking systems), multi-domain environments and multi-agent systems as well as anonymization of social networks, location-based datasets and geo-social networks. Amirreza credits his doctoral work at the iSchool with preparing him for his career by immersing him in research activities such as writing grant proposals and attending professional conferences.

He advises current students looking for academic positions to “start early, apply extensively, tailor cover letters and prepare well for interviews” explaining that “unless you know 100% what your future job will be, you have to prepare in a way that you’re flexible to apply for any job that might interest you when you graduate.”

Denis Parra, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Department of Computer Science, School of Engineering at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC Chile)
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2013

Denis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, School of Engineering at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC Chile). In 2014, PUC Chile was ranked the #1 university in Latin America.  In his first year at PUC Chile, Professor Parra taught an undergraduate-level course, Introduction to Computer Science and two graduate-level courses, Data Mining and Recommender Systems. In 2014, Professor Parra won the contact for the “invited talk” at Chilean Computer Society Week, where he presented his work on Recommender Systems, which was six years in the making. In addition, he was the local organizer of the 24th ACM Hypertext Conference and co-organizer of the inaugural International Workshop on Social Personalization, both held in Santiago, Chile in September 2014. 

Divyasheel Sharma

Divyasheel Sharma, PhD                                                                     

Title: Senior Scientist
Employer: ABB Corporate Research Center, Bangalore, India (also known as INCRC)
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2010

Divyasheel is a Senior Scientist at the ABB Corporate Research Center in Bangalore, India. His interests include database systems (time-series, federated, p2p), distributed systems, data analytics, the “Internet of Things,” and industrial software architecture.

Samvith (Sam) Srinivas, PhD

Title:  User Experience Architect
Employer:  Allstate Insurance
Degree:  MSIS, PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year:  2004, 2010

Samvith is a User Experience Architect at Allstate Insurance, where he uses the techniques and principles of Human Computer Interaction to design user centered information systems. Samvith leads research and design efforts to understand end user needs and design compelling experiences for users of Allstate’s Software. Prior to joining Allstate, Samvith worked as a Designer and Researcher at MAYA Design, where he designed interactive systems for clients from a broad range of industries. He also co-moderated Human Centered Design workshops at LUMA-Institute.

As a PhD student of our iSchool, Samvith collaborated with a wide range of researchers, including a team at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and researchers in the Spatial Cognition community. His dissertation research won the Google award for promising doctoral research at the Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT), Melbourne, Australia, 2007. He also taught an undergraduate Human Factors course that focused on Human Computer Interaction.

Samvith has served as a technical editor of Spatial Cognition and Computation-An Interdisciplinary Journal. He has also served as President of the Doctoral Guild, was a voting member at the SIS Council at the iSchool, served as an Advisor to the International Services Advisory Committee at Pitt, and is the President of the iSchool Alumni Society.

Samvith believes that his interdisciplinary research and various collaborations at the iSchool prepared him for a career in research and design. You can keep in touch with Samvith or learn more about his work at

Sue Yeon Syn, PhD

Sue Yeon Syn, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Catholic University of America
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation Year: 2010

Dr. Sue Yeon Syn joined the Department of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America as an Assistant Professor after receiving her PhD in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. Sue Yeon’s interests in research focus on users’ participation in information creation, sharing, and organization in social media. Her recent research projects explore the topic in various contexts and settings, including processing social tags as user-created information for information discovery and organization, exploring social tags in a digitized humanities collection for resource description, analyzing health information sharing behavior through social media, and identifying personal digital archiving activities through social media. Her research appears in multiple journals, such as the Journal of the Association for Information Science and TechnologyLibrary and Information Science ResearchArchival Science, Journal of Information Science, and Health Information and Libraries Journal.

Sue Yeon thinks the iSchool provided her great opportunities in learning and researching multidisciplinary topics in the Library and Information Science and Information Science fields which in result helped her expand her research and teaching interests. The iSchool provided excellent chances for discussing various ideas and collaborating with faculty and colleagues as she worked not only with her academic advisor, Dr. Spring, but with other faculty and colleagues from LIS, IS and other parts of the University during her studies. The iSchool was also very supportive in student research activities, for example, while pursuing her PhD, Sue Yeon was awarded with the Catherine Ofiesh Orner Award for her research article which encouraged her to publish and present it at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in 2009. In addition, the iSchool supported her participation in multiple professional conferences such as ASIS&T, DCMI, WWW, and ALISE as a student. She continues to present her research works and develop professional networks at these conferences.

Hassan Takabi, PhD

Hassan Takabi, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: University of North Texas
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2013

Hassan Takabi defended his dissertation, “A Semantic Based Policy Management Framework for Cloud Computing Environments,” in July 2013 and joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of North Texas as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2013. Dr. Takabi is the founder and director of the INformation Security and Privacy: Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) Lab and affiliated with the Center for Information and Computer Security (CICS), which is designated as a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research (CAE-R) and Education (CAE-IAE). His research is focused on various aspects of cybersecurity and privacy including advanced access control models, insider threats, cloud computing security, mobile privacy, privacy and security of online social networks, and usable security and privacy. Visit his homepage for more information and view his research on Google Scholar.

Mikhail (Michael) Yudelson, PhD

Title: Research Scientist
Employer: Carnegie Learning, Inc.
Degree: PhD (Information Science)
Graduation year: 2010

In 2013, Dr. Mikhail (Michael) Yudelson joined Carnegie Learning, Inc. as a Research Scientist. From 2010 to 2013, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center of Carnegie Mellon University, working on the issues of cognitive student modeling, knowledge transfer, and scalable building of hierarchical linear models and hidden Markov models. At Carnegie Learning, Inc., Michael works on the issues of big data analytics and data-driven optimization of intelligent tutoring systems, such as Cognitive Tutor Algebra.

Barbara A. Zaborowski, PhD

Title: Dean of Learning Resources
Employer: Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
Degree: BA, MLS, PhD (Library and Information Science)
Graduation year: 1982, 1990, 2008

Barbara A.  Zaborowski, PhD has been a librarian for over 24 years during which time she has served in school, public, and academic libraries. Currently, she serves as Dean of Library Resources at the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, in Johnstown, PA. Starting at the College in 1995, she has been instrumental in building the library and promoting library services to students and faculty. In addition, Dr. Zaborowski also serves as Special Assistant to the President.  As Special Assistant, she has served as Co-chair for two Middle States Association accreditation self-study committees, in addition to acting as grant writer and project manager for several College grants; including a $1.9 million dollar Title III federal grant.

As a graduate student, she was inducted into the Pi Chapter of Beta Phi Mu International Library Science Honor Society in which she currently holds the position of treasurer. She is a member of the 1787 Society which recognizes her planned gift to the University of Pittsburgh and a lifetime member of the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association. She is an active Pitt Alumnus, participating in the annual School of Information Sciences’ (SIS) Professional Development Day. She is a past president of the School of Information Sciences Alumni Society.  She provides SIS students with internship opportunities at her library. She is a member of the Pitt Career Network. She regularly presents to students enrolled in Management and Academic Library courses at SIS. She is a Pitt football season ticket holder and contributes to the student athlete scholarship fund. In 2012, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Information Sciences.

Maria Calle, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia
Degree: MST, PhD (Telecommunications)
Graduation year: 2006, 2009

Maria Calle is Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia. She graduated from the Masters in Telecommunications Program at Pitt and finished her Ph. D in the field of Wireless Sensor Networks, with the guidance of Dr. Joseph Kabara. 

While at Pitt, Maria was an active member of the Doctoral Guild at the iSchool, Global Pittsburgh, and Colombia en Pittsburgh. Maria considers academic activities are as important as cultural activities, since they help people to open their minds and have different experiences. This is something graduate students very much need!

Maria is a Senior Member of IEEE and a member of the Permanent Technical Committee of Ibersensor (the Ibero American Congress of Sensors). She has been a peer reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Networking, IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, and IEEE Latincom (the Latin American Conference on Communications), among others.

Maria works with the Research Group in Telecommunications and Signals at Universidad del Norte. Her research interests are Wireless Communications, Energy Harvesting, and Internet of Things.

Saman Taghavi Zargar, PhD

Title: Software Engineer (III)
Employer: Cisco Systems
Degree:  PhD (Telecommunications)
Graduation year: 2014

Saman Taghavi Zargar, PhD has been a Software Engineer (III) at Cisco Systems since August 2014. Saman is part of the Security Business Group (SBG) where he is involved in proposing secure architectures for various Cisco products and for the next generation of Internet infrastructure, a topic that has always been of interest to him. Sam chose the iSchool for his doctoral studies “because of its unique Telecommunications and Networking program and the faculty’s research interests on network security.”

Sam’s advice for current students is to complete an internship because it can teach you “where to better utilize your skill-set and how to find the satisfaction that everyone seeks in his/her job.” For students who find themselves on the job market, Sam recommends “networking with recruiters and hiring managers through LinkedIn and at academic conferences.” Additionally, recent graduates should leverage their internship experiences to obtain competitive offers and to negotiate the terms of an offer, something that many fresh grads leaving academia for industry find challenging.

Sam defended his dissertation, “Towards Coordinated, Network-wide Traffic Monitoring for Early Detection of DDoS Flooding Attacks” in June 2014. While a student at the iSchool, Sam received a Cisco Research Award for his proposal “DiCoTraM: Towards a Distributed Collaborative Traffic Monitoring System” in the amount of $54,000 (August 2012-2013) and the Fritz Froehlich Award for outstanding contributions to the graduate program in Telecommunications (April 2011). Additionally, his paper “A Survey of Defense Mechanisms against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Flooding Attacks” (Impact Factor: 4.818) was listed among the Top Ten most popular articles published in IEEE Communications Society periodicals for eight months since it first appeared online (July-December 2013, January, February, April 2014). More of Sam’s research can be found on Google Scholar.