School of Information Sciences

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Graduates recognized at final SIS Recognition Ceremony

On Sunday, April 30, the School of Information Sciences held its Recognition Ceremony to honor its 2017 graduates (covering June 2016 – April 2017). More than 550 faculty, staff, family, and friends came together in Alumni Hall to celebrate with those students earning degrees and receiving awards.

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New Dean appointed for future School of Computing and Information

On March 8, University of Pittsburgh Provost Patricia E. Beeson announced the appointment of Dr. Paul R. Cohen as the founding Dean of the School of Computing and Information, beginning August 1, 2017.

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iSchool students place in Randall Family Big Idea Competition

Last month, seven students presented H2Info, an online resource for people affected by water contamination, in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. They placed 4th and won the People’s Choice Award; receiving $3,000 to fund their concept.

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Professor Peter Brusilovsky wins Provost's Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Peter Brusilovsky, professor at SIS, was one of four faculty members to receive Pitt's 2017 Provost's Award for Excellence in Mentoring. This award is given to faculty members who demonstrate outstanding mentoring of students seeking research doctorate degrees.

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SIS student wins Pitt leadership award

Last week, Chun Hua Tsai, a PhD student in the Information Science and Technology program, was awarded a 2017 Leadership and Service Award from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSP).

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SIS students win at iConference

During iConference, which took place from March 22 through March 25 in Wuhan, China, two SIS students won the Best Poster Award.

This award was judged based on both the submitted abstract and the poster presentation at iConference, which took place on Thursday, March 23 and Friday, March 24.

PhD students Danchen Zhang and Sanqiang Zhao, Associate Professor Daqing He, and Lei Li, a PhD student at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology, won for their poster titled, “Wikipedia Based Automatic Diagnosis Prediction in Clinical Decision Support System.”

In addition, “Automatic Course Website Discovery from Search Engine Results,” by PhD students Rui Meng, Zexin Zhao, and Yu Chi as well as Dr. He was one of four finalist poster presentations in the category.

Congrats to our SIS students and Dr. He!


Catching up with our alums: Jeff Stanek (MST '89)

Jeff Stanek graduated from our MST program in 1989. Since then, he has had a very successful career working at various organizations throughout the Pittsburgh area. Although much has changed about the industry since that time, the skills and experiences he gained at the iSchool prepared him to adapt to those changes and excel.

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Meet our faculty: Leona Mitchell

In 2015, Leona Mitchell joined the iSchool as a Professor of Practice. Utilizing her 30+ years of business, entrepreneurial, technical, sales, and leadership expertise, Mitchell has created courses and experiences that increase our undergraduates’ knowledge and help them build the necessary skills to be successful as technology professionals.

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SIS alumna appointed Director at New York Public Libraries

Denise Hibay (MLIS ‘87) was recently appointed to the position of Astor Director for Collections and Research Services at the New York Public Library (NYPL). In this new role, Hibay primary responsibilities will be to establish a unified vision for NYPL’s research collections; formulate and implement a clear collection management and preservation plan for the lifecycle of all research collection material; and coordinate the development and assessment of research services that position the Library as a vital resource to support learning, creativity, scholarship, and enterprise.

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SIS alumnus wins Best Student Paper Award at conference

Recent graduate Jiepu Jiang and SIS Associate Professor Daqing He were recently awarded the Best Student Paper award at the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) Conference on Human Information Interaction & Retrieval (CHIIR) held in Oslo, Norway from March 7-11. They received the award for their paper titled, "Understanding Ephemeral State of Relevance." Dr. Jiang earned a PhD in Library and Information Science from SIS in Fall 2016. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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LIS Program maintains top 10 ranking by U.S. News & World Report

Our LIS program continues to be ranked within the top ten by U.S. News & World Report in their 2017 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools."

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LIS PhD candidate named 2016 Sotheby's Institute of Art Research Award winner

The winners for 2016 are two University of Pittsburgh students, Lily Brewer (Ph.D. candidate, History of Art and Architecture) and S.E. Hackney (Ph.D. candidate, School of Information Sciences), for their project “Historical 'Big Data': Visualizations of Algernon Graves' Art Sales in the Early 20th Century and Today,” a digital project the students completed in the fall of 2016. 

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SIS is heading to Wuhan for iConference 2017!

Numerous representatives from SIS will be attending this year’s iConference in Wuhan, China from March 22 through the 25. This year’s theme is “Effect. Expand. Evolve: Global collaboration across the Information Community.”

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Meet our faculty: Konstantinos (Kostas) Pelechrinis

Since joining the School of Information Sciences faculty in 2010, Konstantinos (Kostas) Pelechrinis has expanded the School’s research and education programs from wireless network security to the broader fields of network science and computational urban science. After successfully completing his PhD at the University of California Riverside, Kostas began teaching SIS courses on Network Management, Computer Networks, and Applications of Networks. His first grant supported his work on maintaining trust in Wireless Networks.

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SIS hosted annual weeklong iFest event

Earlier this month, the iSchool hosted its annual iFest event. Since 2005, iFest has been the iSchool’s premiere event to engage students, faculty, employers, and the Pittsburgh community in the information sciences. This year, nearly 300 students, faculty, employers, and alumni attended the various events throughout the week.

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Upcoming Events at SIS

iFest & TEC

The iSchool at Pitt is proud to present iFest 2017. iFest is a week-long series of events designed to engage students, faculty, employers, and the Pittsburgh community in the information sciences. The week will include the annual iSchool Career & Internship Expo, the Career Mentoring event, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, and the Student Project Showcase.

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

SIS is proud to host a screening of the highly touted documentary, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap. The event will include a presentation by the film’s director/producer, Robin Hauser Reynolds, and will take place on March 2, 2017 at the Twentieth Century Club (adjacent to Pitt’s campus). The event will begin at 4:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

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SIS assistant professor receives Best Paper award at conference on Social Informatics

Yu-Ru Lin, assistant professor, recently received a Best Paper award at the 2016 International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2016), for their work "The Dynamics of Group Risk Perception in the US After Paris Attacks." This study was conducted by Dr. Lin and her research group─Wei Kai, a PhD student in the School of Social Work; Xidao Wen, a PhD student at SIS; and Dr. Wen-Ting Chung in the School of Education. Their paper investigated how the public perceived immigrant groups as potential threats, and how such risk-perception differed by political leanings. It also investigated how these perceptions changed after the attacks that took place in Paris on November 2015.

The group’s findings offer insight as to how people respond to danger. Particularly, when people perceived greater danger, they were more likely to construct new boundaries that differentiate themselves from others. This is the first empirical study that conceptualized "group risk perception" and used computational and qualitative methods to capture and examine the socio-psychological construction of risk perception that is influenced by societal events.

SocInfo is an interdisciplinary venue for researchers to present original research on studying the interplay between socially-centric platforms and social phenomena. This year, the conference highlighted interdisciplinary intellectual innovation, particularly on methodological contributions to the field of Computational Social Science, which aimed to bridge data science and social science.

Dr. Lin's research has been focusing on Computation Social Science methodologies and applications. One particular focus of her research is society's collective sense-making dynamics during disasters and other societal events. To read more about Dr. Lin’s research, visit her website.


Fall iSchool Recognition Ceremony took place on December 9

On Friday, December 9, the iSchool hosted a recognition ceremony to honor 2016 fall graduates. Approximately 180 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends attended to celebrate our students' accomplishments at 5:30 p.m. in the Connolly Ballroom of Alumni Hall.
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SIS alumnus wins California's 68th State Assembly district

Steven S. Choi (PhD LIS ’76), mayor of Irvine, recently won the general election for California’s 68th State Assembly district. He will be sworn in as Assemblyman in Sacramento, California on Monday, December 5. During his acceptance speech of the 2015 SIS Distinguished Alumni Award, he noted that his “Pitt PhD degree served [him] as a gateway to American politics.”

Please join SIS in congratulating Mayor Choi! Click here for election result details.


SIS welcomes two new Visiting Assistant Professors

Dr. Mai Abdelhakim and Kayla Booth will be joining our faculty as visiting assistant professors, beginning today, December 1. Dr. Abdelhakim previously worked as a postdoctoral research scientist at Osram Sylvania in Massachusetts. She will begin teaching in the Spring term. Her research interests include: cyber-physical systems security, wireless communications, and network design.

Booth has held positions as both a teaching assistant and an instructor at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Information Science and Technology prior to coming to SIS. Her research interests include: diversity and social inclusion, social and health informatics, and social media. In addition to her teaching duties here, she will also serve as the assistant director of the i3 Program.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Abdelhakim and Booth to the iSchool.


iSchool alum elevated to Dean of the University Library at RMU

Tim Schlak (MLIS ’07, PhD ’10) was recently appointed to the position of Dean of the University Library at Robert Morris University (RMU). Prior to his appointment, Dr. Schlak held the position of director of the University Library at RMU, as well as the director of the DeWitt Library at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, Dr. Schlak spearheaded the DeWitt Learning Commons project—a 58,000 square foot, $13.5 million state-of-the-art learning facility. He was the 2015 recipient of the iSchool’s Young Alumni Award for his accomplishments.

Dr. Schlak graduated from our MLIS program, which is accredited by the ALA through 2020, and also earned his PhD from the iSchool.


MLIS alums building pilot mentoring program

Emily Reed (MLIS ’14), Instruction and Reference Librarian at Central Penn College, and Adam Haigh (BS ’00, MSIS ’02, MLIS ’05), Technology Librarian at the Township of Lower Merion, are collaborating with other colleagues to establish a state-wide mentoring program for librarians through the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA). Stemming from an initiative called the Pennsylvania Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS), Reed and her colleagues have been tasked to “create a PaLA mentorship program to facilitate leadership growth and potential in the association and across the state.”
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SIS alumni return to SIS to celebrate homecoming

On Friday, October 7, SIS held its annual Alumni Reception and Awards Ceremony. More than 75 people were in attendance. This year’s event was a joint effort between the School of Information Sciences and the Department of Computer Science. Faculty, staff, and alumni from other areas of the university as well as members of the Pittsburgh community were also there to support this year’s honorees.
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Pitt Announces New School of Computing and Information

The University of Pittsburgh is pleased to announce that the School of Information Sciences and the Department of Computer Science will be part of Pitt’s new School of Computing and Information! The School of Computing and Information, which will begin to matriculate students in Fall 2017, will provide an environment enabling larger scale computing and information-related research, leading to new scientific discovery, deeper and broader education of undergraduate and graduate students, and a more significant impact on society. Learn more about this momentous event here.


Professor Martin Weiss awarded three-year grant from NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced that they had awarded $12 million dollars to 11 different projects that are focusing on radio spectrum research. Martin Weiss, professor and Informatics & Networked Systems program chair, was among the awardees for his research titled, “Automated Enforcement in Spectrum Sharing: Technical Challenges and Policy Considerations.” Dr. Weiss will conduct this research with Taieb Znati, chair and professor of Pitt’s Department of Computer Science, and Jung-Min Park, assistant professor at Virginia Tech.
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Four SIS faculty members awarded $500,000 grant from NSF

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2016 Bernadette Callery Archives Lecture series focused on privacy issues

On Monday, September 26, Katharina Hering (MLIS ’10), National Equal Justice Library project archivist at the Georgetown Law Library in Washington, D.C., discussed her research titled “Holocaust Reparation and Restitution Files in German State Archives: Institutional Approaches to Managing Ethical and Technical Challenges for Providing Access” as part of this year’s Bernadette Callery Archives Lecture Series. More than 150 guests attended the event in Alumni Hall, which was co-hosted by the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program, and the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
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Assistant Professor receives two NSF awards for Computational Social Science Research

Dr. Yu-Ru Lin, assistant professor at SIS, has recently been awarded two research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lin received a three-year grant totaling $188,369 for her project titled, "DAPPR: Diffusion Analytics for Public Policy Research." She also received a two-year grant totaling $181,012 for her project titled, "Collective Sense Making Following a Terrorist Attack: The Immediate and Long-Term Impact on Public Resilience."
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SIS faculty awarded more than $200,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences faculty recently received two grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through their Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. Associate Professor Leanne Bowler was awarded a two-year grant for $109,399 for her research titled, “Exploring Data Worlds at the Public Library: Programs and Pedagogy in Support of Youth Data Literacy.” In addition, Visiting Assistant Professor Matthew Burton and Visiting Professor and Interim Doreen E. Boyce Chair Liz Lyon were awarded $97,911 for their research titled, “The Data Scientist as the 21st Century Librarian?”
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Bernadette Callery Archives Lecture Series presents Ethics Access of Holocaust Documentation

Katharina Hering (MLIS ’10), Project Archivist at the National Equal Justice Library at the Georgetown Law Library in Washington, D.C., will present her research titled, “Holocaust Reparation and Restitution Files in German State Archives: Institutional Approaches to Managing Ethical and Technical Challenges for Providing Access."
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SIS welcomes diverse array of students for fall 216 term

Here at SIS, we pride ourselves on our diversity. From our interdisciplinary faculty to our multiple degree programs, and various specializations within each program, our school explores the breadth of the information professions and information sciences.
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iSchool Recognition Ceremony honored graduates on July 29

On Friday, July 29, the iSchool hosted a recognition ceremony to honor 2016 summer graduates. Approximately 120 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends attended to celebrate our students' accomplishments at 5:30 p.m. on the first floor of O’Hara Student Center. Read more >


SIS faculty-run project uses crowdfunding platform to successfully get funded

Last month, SIS Professor of Practice Dmitriy Babichenko and his team successfully funded a project called ScopingSim. During the six week campaign, they managed to raise $5,642 and surpass their campaign’s goal.

One of the most common ways of training medical students to perform bronchoscopy, endoscopy, and colonoscopy procedures is through the use of mannequin simulators. Unfortunately, most simulators are expensive, difficult to transport, and require technical support staff. To combat these issues, Babichenko and his undergraduate student researchers are working to create a low-cost, high-fidelity scoping simulator that will not only teach students scoping techniques and diagnostic skills, but also teach them how to avoid causing their patients harm or discomfort during the procedure.

In order to move forward with building the prototype, the team needed to raise at least $5,500. To accomplish this, they used EngagePitt™, the University of Pittsburgh’s crowdfunding platform that engages students, faculty, friends, family, and alumni to support small, University-based campaigns. This was the first SIS project to utilize the EngagePitt™ platform.

ScopingSim is being developed through the Learning Technologies Lab. The Lab, of which Babichenko is the project director, is an interdisciplinary research and development laboratory that fosters innovative research in the area of learning technologies, offers new educational opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, and catalyzes collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh schools and departments.

“I am thrilled that ScopingSim surpassed its goal! I know the students are just as excited as I am to purchase the equipment and begin building the prototype,” said Babichenko.

To learn more about the ScopingSim project, visit the project's official webpage. Donations are still being accepted here.


SIS alumni awarded Knight News Challenge grant

Maria Kenney Burchill (MLIS ’13), head of adult services at Schlow Centre Region Library, and Luren Reiter (MLIS ’12), Sally W. Kalin librarian for learning innovations and business liaison librarian at Penn State, along with Rebecca K Miller, head of library services at Penn State,  recently received one of 14 Knight News Challenge in Libraries grants.

Their winning project titled, “Digging DEEP: A Digital Extension Education Portal for Community Growth,” aims to connect academic libraries to local community needs by developing a portal for information, research, resources, and sharing. This project received $35,000 from the Knight Foundation to fund its development.

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight News Challenge funds innovative ideas in areas such as: libraries, data, strengthening the Internet, elections, and more.

Please join us in congratulating Burchill and Reiter. You can read more on the Penn State News site.


Dr. Carla Hayden becomes nation’s new Librarian of Congress

Last week, the Senate approved the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden for Library of Congress. Hayden will be the 14th Librarian of Congress, following the retirement of the previous Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington. Hayden will be the first female and first African-American to serve as Librarian of Congress.

Hayden was an assistant professor in the Library and Information Sciences program at SIS from 1987 to 1991 and served on the SIS Board of Visitors.

Please join us in congratulation Hayden. To read more about her appointment, click here.


Study conducted by SIS faculty member and PhD student gets published

Kostas Pelechrinis, SIS assistant professor, and Ke Zhang, a PhD student in the Telecommunications and Networking program, have a study published at the 2016 European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery (ECML/PKDD).

The study titled, “Do Street Fairs Boost Local Business? A Quasi-Experimental Analysis” looks at the impact of street fairs on the local economy. This study is part of Zhang’s PhD dissertation.

After noticing increased customer traffic in some of his favorite coffee shops during local street fairs and festivals, Pelechrinis began to wonder if these events were the cause of the increased traffic. Pelechrinis and Zhang collected data from social media—particularly “check-in” information from Foursquare—to draw the conclusion that events such as street fairs and festivals do increase the revenue of local businesses.

“This study contributes to the push for the field to use more formal and quantitative methods borrowed from econometrics, rather than simply relying on anecdotal evidence,” said Pelechrinis.

Pelechrinis and Zhang will present their findings at the ECML/PKDD in Riva del Garda, Italy from September 19-23. The abstract of their study can be found here.


SIS PhD student recipient of 2016 Beta Phi Mu Garfield Award

Wei Jeng, a PhD student at SIS, is a 2016 recipient of the Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Jeng is earning her PhD in the Library and Information Science program, and her research interests include: research data sharing, scholarly collaboration on social media and academic social networking.

Up to six students are awarded the Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship each year to doctoral students who are working on their dissertations in Library and Information Science, Information Studies, Informatics, or a related field at an institution with ALA, CILIP, or other Beta Phi Mu Executive Board approved accreditation.

Please join us in congratulating Jeng!


Dr. Carla Hayden receives recommendation from key Senate committee

Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration recommended by vote that the full Senate approve the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden to serve as the nation’s next librarian of congress. If approved, Dr. Hayden will be the first woman and the first African American to serve, and only the third librarian of congress to have professional library experience prior to appointment.

Dr. Hayden was an assistant professor in the Library and Information Sciences program at SIS from 1987 to 1991 and served on the SIS Board of Visitors.

You can read more about the vote and Dr. Hayden’s nomination here.


SIS alum receives 2016 SAA Emerging Leader Award

Matt Gorzalski is the 2016 recipient of the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) Emerging Leader Award. Gorzalski graduated from SIS’ MLIS program in 2008 and worked as an archives assistant at the University of Pittsburgh Archives Services Center from 2007 to 2008. Read more >


SIS celebrates Ellen Detlefsen’s career and establishment of Wendell L. Wray Endowment for Diversity and Inclusion

On Thursday, May 5, SIS honored Dr. Ellen G. Detlefsen’s 42 year long career at the University of Pittsburgh. Remarks were made by Dean Ronald L. Larsen and her husband, Charles F. Reynolds III, MD. Vice Provost Laurie Kirsch presented Dr. Detlesfsen with the Associate Professor Emeritus Certificate and surprise visitor Dr. Shigeo Sugimoto, from Tsukuba University in Japan, delivered remarks and presented her with gifts. Dean Larsen also presented Dr. Detlesfsen with gifts from SIS and thanked her for working to endow a fund established in memory of the late Professor Emeritus Wendell L. Wray. As the executor of his estate, Dr. Detlefsen discovered additional funds outside of Wray’s will. The Wendell L. Wray Fund for Diversity and Inclusion will be used to support activities that promote diversity and inclusion at SIS.

Dr. Detlesfen recalled the changes in the name of the school, the physical structure of the building, and technology over the years, and reminisced about “hanging out” with each of the Deans during her tenure. She spoke of her friendship with Wray; discussing his life and how he was a pioneer for oral historians as well as minorities in the library field.

Join us in congratulating Dr. Ellen Detlefsen for her many accomplishments and future endeavors as Associate Professor Emeritus!


SIS alumna receives Medal of Distinction from Seton Hill University

Michele Moore Ridge, an alumna of School of Information Science’s Library & Information Science program, was recently honored with Seton Hill University’s Medal of Distinction.

Ridge received the Medal of Distinction during undergraduate Commencement on Saturday, May 14. She is only the second person to receive this distinction.

The university honored Ridge for her dedication and work with both the university and the community. During her 13 years as Board Chair, Ridge worked with local leaders to revive the city of Greensburg as well as underwent numerous building campaigns for the university. In addition, Ridge also served as campaign co-chair for various phases of Seton Hill’s endowment campaigns, aided in the construction of the Erie County Public Library, and served as the First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Click here to read more.


SIS alumna receives a 2015-2016 Jefferson Award

Linda Lafferty, a graduate of the MLIS program and retired Pittsburgh Public School librarian, recently received a Jefferson Award for her work with the Blessings in a Backpack organization. The organization, which was founded in 2005, provides bags of food to elementary school children to ensure that they don’t go hungry on the weekend. Read more >


SIS faculty member, Michael Spring, tells graduating students to always keep dreaming

Dr. Michael B. Spring, associate professor of Information Science, addressed the graduating class as co-keynote speaker during the iSchool Recognition ceremony on May 1.

He began his speech by quoting George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah, “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”

Dr. Spring addressed the room of more than 300 graduates with a few words of advice. He encouraged them to be positive, to think, to contribute to the world, and to laugh. Most importantly, however, he encouraged them to always keep dreaming.

For a copy of Dr. Spring’s speech, visit his blog. To read more about the recognition ceremony, click here.


SIS alumna appointed new archivist at Carnegie Museum of Art

Effective May 16, Dominique Luster will be joining the Carnegie Museum of Art as the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archivist. In this position, Luster will manage and oversee the research, digitization, publication, and exhibition of more than 70,000 images shot by Harris from the 1930s through the 1970s. Read more >


SIS alumnus reflects on seven years as University Librarian at Boston College

Dr. Thomas Wall, an SIS alumnus, recently reflected on the importance for libraries to constantly innovate in the Spring 2016 edition of the Boston College Libraries Newsletter.

“It is the role of the University Librarian to facilitate innovation and create a culture open to creativity, service excellence, and continuous improvement,” said Dr. Wall.

In the spirit of reflection, Dr. Wall and his colleagues created a document titled “Library Story” that outlines the past seven years of Boston College libraries as well as key areas of innovation and growth.

Wall received his PhD in library and information sciences from SIS where he was also a faculty member.

Click here to read the Library Story.


SIS student, Kate Madison, receives 2016 Society of American Archivists Ham Scholarship

Kate Madison, a graduate student in the Library and Information Science program, was named the 2016 recipient of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Ham Scholarship.

The scholarship, established in 1998, provides financial support to graduate students in a professional archival studies program at a U.S. university.

Please join us in congratulating Kate!


Two SIS faculty members on new Association for Computing Machinery journal’s editorial board

Peter Brusilovsky, professor and current chair of the Information Sciences program, and Rosta Farzan, assistant professor of Information Sciences & Technology, have been selected as editors of the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) new journal titled “Transactions on Social Computing.”

This quarterly journal will publish works encompassing theoretical, empirical, systems, and design research on social computing. It will be part of the ACM Digital Library, which is the most comprehensive collection of full-text articles and bibliographic records covering the fields of computing and information technology.


SIS faculty member, Konstantinos ‘Kostas’ Pelechrinis, promoted to associate professor with tenure

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) is pleased to announce that Konstantinos ‘Kostas’ Pelechrinis has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure, effective September 1, 2016. Pelechrinis has taught in the Telecommunications and Networking program at SIS and led the Network Data Science Lab since 2010.

He received his MSc and PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Riverside. Prior, he received his diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece.

Pelechrinis’ research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and magazines as well as discussed at conferences around the world. His research interests include: network science, location based social networks, urban informatics, wireless network systems, and wireless network security. He was recently awarded a grant through the Army Research Office’s Young Investigator award for his research titled, “Models and Metrics for Composite Socio-Spatial Networks.”

Please join us in congratulating Kostas on this well-deserved promotion!


iSchool Recognition Ceremony honored graduates on May 1st!

On Sunday, May 1st, the iSchool hosted a recognition ceremony to honor 2016 graduates (covering the period from June 2015-April 2016). 500 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends rose early and braved the Marathon traffic to celebrate our students' accomplishments at 9:30 am in the Seventh Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall: a light reception will follow. Read more >


Librarian of Congress nominee, Dr. Carla Hayden, receives widespread support

On Wednesday, April 22, former SIS faculty and Board of Visitors member Dr. Carla Hayden testified at a Senate Committee on Rules and Administration hearing in Washington, D.C. She was introduced by three Maryland Senators: Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Sen. Benjamin Cardin, who wrote to President Obama in October, asking him to consider nominating Hayden; and Sen. Emeritus Paul S. Sarbanes, who serves on the board of trustees and board of directors of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, at which Dr. Hayden has been the CEO for the past 23 years. That afternoon, the room was filled with enthusiastic supporters, including many from the American Library Association (ALA), of which Dr. Hayden was president from 2003-2004, and over 140 organizations signed letters in support of her nomination.

During the hearing, she answered a variety of questions regarding the future of the Library of Congress, and spoke about matters regarding infrastructure, access, copyright, and privacy. If appointed as the 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to serve, and only the third Librarian to have library experience prior to appointment.

Dr. Hayden was an assistant professor of library and information sciences at SIS from 1987 to 1991. Read more here.


Chancellor Gallagher appointed to Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity

After several private sector hacks and the theft of government personnel profile information, President Obama created the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity in an effort to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses. Among other business and academic experts, Chancellor Gallagher was invited to participate on the panel, which is due to make long-term recommendations by December of this calendar year. For more information, read here.


University Library System Digital Scholarship Commons leading in publishing library trend

In a feature article in Pitt Magazine’s 2016 winter edition, University Library System’s Digital Scholarship Commons faculty and SIS alumni Tim Deliyannides, Jeff Wisniewski, and Aaron Brenner discuss how Pitt is leading the way in the recent trend of “library as publisher” through digital publishing. They describe how technology is helping to save time, space, and finances for libraries as they record numbers of people in the doors – both in the physical building and online. Pitt’s library system has become one of the national leaders of publishing academic journals—currently publishing 40 peer-reviewed scholarly journals and growing each year—and the first and only North American Library to be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
Read the full article on pages 12-16 in Pitt Magazine here.


School Library Certification Program (SLCP) Alumni gather for its 5th Annual Dinner

More than 75 alumni of the SLCP from around southwestern Pennsylvania gathered at the Spaghetti Warehouse in the Strip District on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. It was a lively affair, as the very tight-knit group socialized and recognized each others’ accomplishments. Dr. Mary Kay Biagini, associate professor and director of the SLCP, and Deb Kachel, began the evening with a presentation and discussion on strategies for communicating library program success to public school principals.


Sheila Corrall and Kip Currier win LIBER Innovation Award

The Program Committee for the 45th Annual Conference of LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) has selected a paper by Sheila Corrall and James D. “Kip” Currier for a LIBER Innovation Award. The paper on "Legal, Ethical, and Policy Issues of “Big Data 2.0” Collaborative Ventures and Roles for Information Professionals in Research Libraries" will be presented at the conference in Helsinki, Finland on June 29-July 1, 2016.

The awards are sponsored by OCLC and awarded to the three most innovative and relevant papers submitted to the Conference. Award recipients receive a grant of 1.000 euros towards travel and conference registration. The award ceremony will take place at the conference plenary on July 1.

Conference website


Alumna named director of libraries at Oberlin College & Conservatory

The School of Information Sciences (SIS) congratulates alumna Alexia Hudson-Ward on her appointment as the Azariah Smith Root director of libraries at Oberlin College & Conservatory. Hudson-Ward currently serves as a tenured associate librarian at Penn State and will begin at Oberlin in her new role on July 1 of this year. As the director of libraries, Hudson-Ward will oversee and be responsible for the four campus libraries as well as other critical operations such as collection development, space utilization, technology integration, and special exhibits.

Hudson-Ward, who earned her MLIS from SIS, also holds a BA in English and African American studies from Temple University and is pursuing her PhD in managerial leadership in the information professions at Simmons College. Read the full announcement concerning her new appointment on Oberlin’s website.


SIS and iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) co-host iConference 2016 Reception

More than 50 SIS alumni, students, faculty, and staff, as well as i3 program alumni and participants, gathered on Tuesday, March 22 for a Pitt reception at iConference 2016 in Philadelphia. The reception was graciously hosted at Sto’s Bar, owned by Pitt Law alumnus Michael Stosic (SL ’03). Visit our facebook page for pictures from the event.


Dean Larsen presides over first iConference as chair of iCaucus

From March 20–23, Dean Larsen presided over iConference 2016 as the new chair of the iCaucus committee of iSchools—an international group of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field. More than 20 SIS faculty, staff, students, and iSchool Inclusion Institute participants presented project posters, spoke at conference sessions, and held administrative meetings at this year’s iConference 2016 in Philadelphia. Join us in congratulating Assistant Professor Yu-Ru Lin and doctoral candidate Kai Wei of the School of Social Work, for their runner-up best poster entitled "The Evolution of Latino Threat Narrative from 1997 to 2014."


Former Board of Visitors member and alumnus passes

Elliot L. Shelkrot, 72, director and president of the Free Library of Philadelphia from 1987 until his retirement in 2007, died Monday at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital from complications of heart disease.

Despite budgetary challenges during the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Shelkrot renovated and maintained a six-day schedule of 55 branch libraries. He advocated to bring computers and electronic books into branches in order to stay relevant as technology and the rise of the internet threatened the library's future. Mr. Shelkrot also was very active with the American Library Association (ALA).
Mr. Shelkrot graduated with a Master of Library Science from the School of Information Sciences in 1966 and later returned to serve on the SIS Board of Visitors from 1998 to 2002.  A link to Mr. Shelkrot’s obituary may be found here.


Leona Mitchell to be a featured speaker at the 2016 AIIP Annual Conference

Visiting professor of practice Leona Mitchell is going to be a featured speaker at the upcoming 2016 Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) Annual Conference.  The conference will take place in Pittsburgh from April 7-10 and provides an opportunity for independent information professionals to network, share ideas, collaborate, and develop their professional vision.  Ms. Mitchell brings over 30 years of high-level experience and leadership with IBM to the conference and will share five common mistakes consultants make with her AIIP audience.

Further details about the talk and the conference can be found on the conference’s Web site


School of Information Sciences attends Pitt Day in Harrisburg

Wes Lipschultz, director of student services, was proud to represent SIS at Pitt Day in Harrisburg yesterday. He shared information on the skills-based volunteer efforts of our students in the Commonwealth and had a chance to participate in a conversation between Pitt students and State Representative Dan Frankel. The day was well-attended by Pitt students, faculty, and staff.
Check out photos of Wes and the rest of the Pitt community.


SIS alumna named 2016 recipient of the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award

The School of Information Sciences (SIS) congratulates alumna Elizabeth Brumfield on receiving the 2016 Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award, which honors an Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) member involved in and promoting the success of distance learning in higher education.

For a nominee to be awarded the honor, they must have demonstrated achievements in supporting distance learning librarianship and services; participation in the implementation of quality distance library programs and services; successful collaboration with faculty around information literacy and library instruction; and significant research, publications, or presentations concerning distance learning librarianship.

The award is sponsored by the academic journal publisher Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, who will present Brumfield with the $1,200 conference sponsorship award and plaque at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida later this year.

Read the entire Library Journal article highlighting Brumfield here.


SIS alumna named one of Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers of 2016

The School of Information Sciences (SIS) congratulates alumna Megan Rosenbloom who was named one of Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers of 2016. Rosenbloom graduated from the Library and Information Science program in 2008 and began her work in libraries at the University of Southern California’s Norris Medical Library, where she is now the associate director for collection resources. Her library educates doctors and medical students while conducting critical work that greatly increases the relationship between libraries and the medical profession.

Rosenbloom’s interest in medical history lead her to the Order of the Good Death, which focuses on discussing how to approach death and mortality from a less stigmatized point of view. She now serves as the director of the association, which includes academics, artists, and death professionals who gather at annual meetings to discuss death and cultural issues. Both her work in medical libraries and the Order of the Good Death has marked Rosenbloom as a rising advocate for the death positivity movement.

Read the entire Library Journal article highlighting Rosenbloom here.


SIS Alumnus named 2016 Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award recipient

The School of Information Sciences congratulates Jeff Huber, University of Kentucky School of Information Science director and professor, who received the Medical Library Association’s (MLA) 2016 Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award for his contributions to the field of health sciences librarianship. MLA President Michelle Kraft explained,The award is given to outstanding library educators in the field of health sciences librarianship and informatics. … The many letters of support from former students exemplifies Dr. Huber’s dedication and focus to developing the next generation of health sciences librarians.”
Dr. Huber received his doctorate in Library Science from SIS in 1991. Read the entire announcement here.


Christine L. Borgman delivers 2016 Sara Fine Institute lecture

On Monday, February 29, more than 175 faculty, staff, students, and alumni across Pitt's campus, as well as members of the local Pittsburgh community, listened to Dr. Christine L. Borgman, distinguished professor and presidential chair in Information Studies at UCLA, give the 2016 Sara Fine Institute lecture. In her talk, she reflected on the content of most recently published book Big Data, Little Data, No Data, examining how the varying practices of protecting research data are often at odds with public policy interest of open access. Relevant questions came from faculty and students representing SIS, School of Law, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Biology, among others. Dr. Leanne Bowler, Director of the Sara Fine Institute, welcomed the crowd with opening remarks about the Sara Fine Institute and the legacy of the late Sara Fine, and introducing Dr. Borgman. The lecture concluded with a book signing by Dr. Borgman, followed by a reception. Visit our facebook page to photos from the event.


Former Board of Visitors and Faculty member nominated as Librarian of Congress

The School of Information Sciences congratulates former Board of Visitors and faculty member Dr. Carla D. Hayden, on her nomination as Librarian of Congress. If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and first African American to hold the position.

Dr. Hayden was an assistant professor for the Library and Information Science program from 1987 to 1991. Since 1993, she has been CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltmore, Maryland. Read the entire article here.  


SIS faculty awarded WISE Excellence in Online Teaching Award

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) congratulates faculty members Sheila Corrall and Ellen Detlefsen, who teach in the Library & Information Sciences department, on being 2015 WISE Faculty Award recipients.

To be awarded, instructors must have taught one or more WISE course during the calendar year and demonstrated dedication to best practices in online education. SIS was one of only two participating institutions to have two faculty honored this year. This is the fifth WISE Faculty Award for Detlefsen, who was also awarded for her excellence through WISE in 2014 and in subsequent years. Read more >


SIS’ annual iFest expands its reach in 2016

iFest 2016, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) and sponsored by IBM, UPMC, and FedEx among others, was held the first week of February. Throughout the week, presentations and workshops were made available on ethics, professional development, and mastering information interviews. Alumni met with over 60 students looking for advice and guidance during the walk-in professional assistance and resume review sessions on Monday and Tuesday nights. The Career Expo was also incredibly popular with both students and employers and saw over 200 people throughout the course of Wednesday evening.

Special events included the Project Showcase and the inaugural Three Minute Thesis competition, which offered students a platform to present and discuss their research and work with other students and faculty. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) event challenges PhD students to present their thesis research in exactly three minutes to a panel of judges. Congratulations to the 3MT prize winners Xidao Wen, Marcela Gomez, and Chun-Hua Tsai, who all received a cash prize. Read more >


The Sara Fine Institute announces 2016 lecturer--Christine Borgman

Until recently, data were considered part of the research process--essential but largely invisible. In the “big data” era, the products of the research processes have become valuable intellectual property to be protected, which is often at odds with the open access leanings of public policy. This talk will explore the stakes and stakeholders in research data and implications for policy and practice. Read more >


SIS faculty Amelia Acker quoted in Trib Live article about distracted driving and smart phones

The School of Information Sciences’ Assistant Professor Amelia Acker was recently quoted in a Trib Live article discussing the dangers of distracted driving due to smart phone use. Acker’s research has included the phenomena of phantom buzzes and rings, which involves people thinking they hear a notification on their phone and reach for it or become distracted, even if there is no such notification. Read more >


SIS' MLIS archival student, Bryan Colvin, highlighted by the Archives Service Center

Current MLIS student Bryan Colvin was recently highlighted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Archives Service Center (ASC) in their blog. Colvin holds a Pitt Partner’s Placement with the ASC working with the Erroll Garner Collection. When asked, Colvin said that some of the most interesting items he has worked with thus far are documents that bare the signatures of famous people such as JFK and Johnny Carson. "I did not think that holding a piece of paper that a famous president or person would have held would make me as emotional as it did, but it’s a connection with the past on a whole new level.” Through his experience with ASC, Colvin said he has recognized the importance of documents from the past and how they have the power to change and effect our future. Read more >


SIS faculty James Joshi promoted to full professor

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) is pleased to share the news that Chancellor Gallagher has promoted SIS Council Chair and Associate Professor, James Joshi, to the rank of Full Professor, effective January 1, 2016. Joshi teaches in the Information Science & Technology and the Telecommunications & Networking programs at SIS. He also holds a secondary appointment as professor of health information management in the School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences.

The promotion recognizes his many accomplishments in research, teaching, and administration. He holds a PhD in computer engineering and an MS in computer science from Purdue University, and a BS from Motilal Nehru NIT, India. Prior to joining SIS’ faculty, he was a research assistant at Purdue University. Read more >


SIS faculty-edited series on archives, archivists, and society now available

“Archival Research and Education: Selected Papers from the 2014 AERI Conference,” which was published in December 2015 as the seventh installment in the Series on Archives, Archivists, and Society, features fifteen essays by both emerging and established archival scholars and faculty from around the world. Edited by University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) faculty Richard J. Cox, Alison Langmead, and Eleanor Mattern. The sixth annual Archival Education and Research Institute (AERI) was hosted by SIS in July 2014 and attracted international scholars involved in archival studies. The Series on Archives, Archivists, and Society is edited by Cox and published by Litwin Books, LLC.


Collaboration between SIS and the City of Pittsburgh results in impactful student projects

Professors of practice from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS), Leona Mitchell and Dmitriy Babichenko, have fostered an exciting collaboration between SIS and the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance in order to work on special projects that will benefit both the City and SIS’ students in impactful ways.

The collaboration was prompted by the City of Pittsburgh’s Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam, who reached out to SIS for a fresh outsider perspective on projects in the spring of 2015. Mitchell saw the opportunity to not only build a relationship with the City but to offer undergraduate students at SIS valuable real-world experience that would challenge their perception of what an information scientist does. Read more >


SIS’ Dean Larsen to step down from leadership role in 2017

Ron Larsen, dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (SIS), has announced his intention to step down from his position and return to teaching and research in the summer of 2017.

Larsen, who spent 15 years as an administrator, earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1981, his master’s degree in applied physics at The Catholic University of America in 1971, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from Purdue University in 1968. Read more >


SIS students volunteer in the community to gain experience and make a difference

The School of Information Sciences (SIS) is partnering with PittServes, a program at the University of Pittsburgh that connects students with non-profits looking for assistance, in its recent launch of “iServe,” which is an information science-focused version of the PittServes program. iServe offers students at SIS professionally relevant experiences in the form of volunteer work for local non-profit organizations and carries forward PittServes’ mission to “promote a community of compassion, service, and wellbeing for our neighbors and ourselves so we can thrive as one.”

Last term, SIS graduate students participated in projects that included adult computer and Internet literacy, Web page development and design, database management, social media support, digitization and data stewardship, and creating simple surveillance networks with Raspberry Pi computers. These opportunities helped students expand their professional skills and acquire experiences for their resumes and CVs. It also gave them quality exposure to professional working environments. Participants walked away happy with what they accomplished and more confident to face their future job search.

Students interested in participating in an iServe project in the spring term should attend the iServe@PittServes "Volunteer" Career Fair on January 29 to speak with representatives of organizations looking for help. It will be held from 3:30 pm to 5 pm on the third floor of the Information Sciences building. Read more >


2016 ALA Mid-Winter Meeting reception recap

On January 10, 2016, SIS and the Pittsburgh Alumni Association (PAA) co-hosted a reception at the 2016 American Library Association Mid-Winter Meeting in the Seaport Boston Hotel. Despite all-day torrential downpour, more than 30 alumni, students, faculty, staff, and guests braved the weather to gather at the Seaport Boston Hotel for an evening of mingling, networking, and noshing. Sheila Corrall, chair of SIS’ Library & Information Science program, provided an overview of the school for the non-SIS Pitt alumni in attendance, and shared updates for both the school and the LIS program. Annie Sullivan (CBA ’11), president of the Pitt Boston Alumni Club, gave an introduction about the club and the activities it holds, and invited Boston-area alumni to get involved. Thanks PAA for co-hosting a successful event! Visit our Facebook page to see reception pictures.


SIS Faculty Leanne Bowler awarded 2016 ALISE Research Grant

Join us in congratulating School of Information Sciences’ (SIS) Associate Professor Leanne Bowler for recently being awarded the 2016 ALISE Research Grant for her study, “Mindful Makers in Libraries.” The “Mindful Makers” study looks at how question prompts can assist with the development of technical skills and thinking in maker space settings within libraries. The study “seeks to explore the intermediation between librarians and teens in maker spaces specifically in relation to self-reflective question prompts.”
The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) is a non-profit organization that serves as the intellectual home of university faculty in graduate programs in library and information science within North America. Bowler is also the current Director of the Sara Fine Institute for Interpersonal Behavior and Technology at SIS.


SIS’ Kostas Pelechrinis’ research featured in the Tribune Review

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences’ (SIS) Assistant Professor Kostas Pelechrinis offered up data from his recent research on bike systems to the Tribune Review for an article about the local Healthy Ride bike share program to help highlight the effects of having such a service in place. According to Pelechrinis, having a bike share system station can contribute to increases in neighborhood property values by over two percent. While this can initially look like a positive effect, Pelechrinis is quick to mention that this increase can cause some residents to be priced out of their homes. Healthy Ride currently has 50 stations around Pittsburgh and is looking to open up more in the future.

Read more news >

SIS News

SIS Faculty and students are leaders in the Information Professions. Their research, teaching, and projects are often newsworthy.