School of Information Sciences

Research Grant Abstracts

Mindful Makers in Libraries: A Study to Investigate Question Prompts as a Method for Scaffolding Critical Technical Practice in Library-based Maker Spaces for Youth

With the growth of technology-rich environments in libraries, librarians find themselves supporting learning in new and creative ways, including mentoring the critical technical practices of youth (Hildreth, S., 2012). How might librarians help to develop in young people a critical, self-aware stance toward the technological artifacts that they make? Dialogue that occurs in youth maker spaces may be the key. This project explores the intermediation between librarians and teens in maker spaces in relation to self-reflective question prompts, using a set of “mindful maker” question prompts identified in earlier research and then captured in a poster created for maker spaces for youth (Bowler & Champagne, 2015)1. This project takes the “mindful maker” question prompts into the field for two months in order to learn how to best integrate them into the professional practice of librarians. The research evidence will be gathered through participant observation, interviews with teens and librarians, and artifacts created by the young people who participate in maker activities at the Carnegie Library of Homestead. The goal is to produce a set of recommendations and evidence-based guidelines that will help librarians use question prompts to help guide critical technical practices in maker spaces for youth.

Adaptive Navigation Support and Open Social Learner Modeling for PAL

The goal of the proposed project is to leverage the discovered power of open social learner modeling and adaptive navigation support in the context of the envisioned Personalized Assistant for Learning (PAL). The PI believes that these technologies are very important to support social personalized learning in many domains and would like to explore this opportunity through a combination of research and development efforts. In the context of this project he seeks to expand current work focused on one domain and one type of learning content into several directions that are discussed in the proposal. The proposal combines a high level of innovation with a practical orientation. On one hand, it seeks to explore the validity of recent research results in the area of open social learned modeling well beyond the original scope. On the other hand, it targets the area where the impact of the discovered technology can reach the largest number of learners.

Building International Research Ethics Capacity in China

This project is designed to strengthen international research ethics expertise in China. A 2-year program of didactic and mentored practical experiences has been developed leading to a Masterʼs level certificate in research ethics for 2 cohorts of 15 Fellows. The training will be provided within China and during a 15-week program at the University of Pittsburgh, with side trips to NIH and Johns Hopkins University; it will prepare the Fellows to become leaders in the field of research ethics in China. At the end of their training, these Fellows will be equipped to teach research ethics, implement and participate in the establishment or improvement of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and/or Offices of Research Integrity (ORIs), pursue research in issues of research ethics and bioethics, and provide advice on human subjects policy development and research oversight to the Chinese government and institutions, as well as to international organizations that are involved in research in China. Through our use of a trainer-of-trainers model, the instruction provided to the 30 Fellows in our program will be greatly amplified. If each Fellow teaches research ethics to 25 persons/ year, our program will impact 750 persons/ year of effort. Our aim is to promote the development of expertise in clinical research ethics leading to the establishment of self-sustaining, indigenous ethics training programs focused on human subjects research.

Building the Capacity of Academic Institutions and Professional Societies to Implement Ethics Instruction on a Large Scale

NSF has mandated that institutions must provide training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows who work on NSF-supported research projects.  Each institution is to determine for itself the details of that instruction, including content, format, and duration.  Academic institutions now are grappling with the issue of designing and implementing an RCR curriculum on a scale that will accommodate very large numbers of students.  This project addresses the needs of those institutions, with a focus on graduate students.  The PIs will develop a program for use in teaching individuals how to train others to provide instruction in research ethics ( training individuals to train other trainers). They will also work with professional societies in science and engineering to implement training-of-trainers efforts in conjunction with their society’s conferences or stand-alone events.  It is anticipated that the curriculum and approach that will be developed will be useful for providing training in research ethics to undergraduates, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff, including those conducting research in areas of inquiry not supported by NSF.

Center for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA)

Contemporary globalization and concerns about future global trends naturally raise questions about past patterns of global change. What were the interactions of population, economy, governance, and social inequality with each other and with climate and disease? Historical social science, focused at national and subnational levels, has scarcely addressed global issues. This research team expects to collect, document, and analyze historical data to permit cross-disciplinary analysis of human society over time. The overall topic is immense, but the PIs believe they have found an orderly and productive way to work on it.

CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Formal Models of Human Control and Interaction with Cyber-Physical Systems

The widespread growth of wireless embedded sensors and actuators is leading to increased use of cyber-physical systems (CPS) across a variety of applications like smart electric grids, smart structures and green buildings, unmanned vehicles or robots for disaster relief, border protection, and critical infrastructure protection. One of the key challenges in design and deployment of such cyber-physical systems is how to formally guarantee that they are amenable to effective human control under realistic environmental and operational assumptions, considering the nonlinear nature of the human-cyber-physical system. We will build models of cognition using a well validated cognitive architecture, ACT-R, and thereby derive an analytic human model. The analytical human model will be incorporated into the control theoretic formalism of the CPS. We will develop algorithms for studying well known system-theoretic concepts like observability, reachability, etc. that are not well-understood for human-in-the-loop systems. Using these models we will develop principled ways to design the interface so as to provide performance guarantees for the overall system in the presence of uncertainty. Human-in-the-loop experiments across a variety of domains will be used to validate our approach.

Doctoral Fellowships Supporting Coherence at Scale

This program will fund PhD students to work on a range of issues associated with large-scale digital projects in such a way as to support the Coherence at Scale project and the iSchool Consortium mission to expand and advance education relevant to the exceptional influence of digital information on the lives of individuals, the functions of organizations and the configuration of societies.

Dynamic Multichain Graphical Models for the Analysis of Childhood Obesity Data

The project focuses on the development of an extended version of the dynamic Bayesian network developed earlier by the Decision Systems Laboratory for the analysis of multilevel data. The Decision Systems Laboratory (DSL) will serve as a subcontractor on the grant to Wake Forest University. The task of the DSL will be to provide support for the development of the dynamic Bayesian network model proposed. The research team will develop a graphical user interface for the model, test it with users, and improve it to the point of practical deployment. They will also collaborate with the Wake Forest University’s Department of Biostatistical Sciences team on the dissemination of results and programs that are generated from the proposed project.

Health Care Innovation Challenge: Improving Quality and Reducing Cost in Schizophrenia Care with New Technologies and New Personnel

The research team will create web-ready educational materials and add them to the Daily Support Website. This will allow continuation by the facilitators (as is appropriate) of issues covered in RPC (e.g., addressing substance abuse). An administrator’s page will be developed for each treatment site that will permit case managers to monitor participants’ usage of the Daily Support Website. Links and the contents of the Daily Support Website will be updated; community content specific to each site will be developed; and materials will be programmed for site-specific or region-specific display.

Hyperlocal Online communities as “Third Places”

“Third places,” such as coffee shops, community centers, and beauty salons, are essential to our societies. They tie together individuals in communities and strengthen the sense of community.  Like many aspects of our lives, technology is changing the way people use third places.  In studying third places, the project has two aims: (1) to study the role of a specific group of online communities, hyperlocal online communities, which focus on geographically bounded communities, in enhancement of virtual third places; and (2) to design and evaluate guidelines to improve hyperlocal online communities as more effective third places. In collaboration with one hyperlocal online community, the PI will conduct qualitative research and experimental field studies to achieve these research goals.

iSchool Inclusion Initiative Years 4-6

Renewal of funding support for the iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) is proposed in response to a deficiency of faculty and students from underrepresented populations within academia specifically the Information Schools (iSchools) and the workforce in information-related industries. Now in its third year of programming, i3 is an undergraduate research and leadership development program that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate study and careers in the information sciences. During the period of this proposal, cohort sizes will increase resulting in a total of 75 additional students partaking in the i3 program. New marketing materials will be designed and printed in order to more accurately reflect the program and improve recruitment efforts. i3 Scholars will receive increased support in the form of travel awards to attend the annual iConference; students will also be encouraged to submit their research for conference publication. Program evaluation services will continue to be delivered by University of Pittsburgh’s CEAC. Partnerships with iSchools and the iSchools Consortium (iCaucus) will be further developed and strengthened. Long-term sustainability and funding of the program will also be explored through the iSchools Consortium. This grant will further develop i3 programming, increase its scale and impact, and explore and secure sustainable funding from alternative sources.

Mindful making: Intergenerational design teams explore reflective design in DIY/Maker Spaces

This project envisions DIY/Maker Spaces as opportunities for young people to engage with questions about the consequences of technology design on their own lives and those of others. As Connected Learning attempts to re-design learning in the 21st century, there has never been a better time for us to ask young people to be critical and mindful makers of technology. Community-based DIY/Maker Spaces, where young people work side-by-side knowledgeable mentors, might be a powerful crucible for developing personal and social awareness with regard to the creation and use of technology. As one of three Hive Learning Networks in the country, Pittsburgh is an excellent test bed for the development of teaching and learning practices in the area of Connected Learning, specifically Maker Education.

Online Treatments for Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care

The primary hypothesis of the research team is that patients in their CCBT+ISG arm will report a clinically meaningful 0.30 effect size (ES) or greater improvement on the S-12 MCS vs. patients in their CCBT-alone arm at 6 months follow-up.  Secondary hypotheses are that CCBT-alone patients will report a 0.50 ES or greater improvement on the SF-12MCS vs. “usual care,” and that the ISG provides synergistic benefits to CCBT.  The team will monitor patients for 12 months following enrollment to better evaluate the durability and usage patterns of our interventions, and for any alterations in health services utilization and cost they  may produce.

A Research Program for Advancing New Models of Scholarly Communication across Disciplines

This grant will support the development of a graduate research program designed to understand and influence the emergence of digital communication and research in academia, known as cyberscholarship. It provides resources to hire a professor in SIS and ULS to explore how disciplines are re-examining scholarly priorities, reshaping methodologies, and redefining evidence bases as a result of new media and new tools.

A Scholarship Program for Security Assured Information Systems Track

Through this scholarship program, the University of Pittsburgh offers highly qualified students the opportunity to become information assurance (IA) professionals of high caliber who will serve the nation and the global society by protecting the cyberspace. Under this program, each scholarship recipient is required to complete a Masters degree in Information Science or Telecommunication and Networking with the Security Assured Information Systems (SAIS) track option. In addition, Ph.D. students in either program with IA concentration can request support for the last two years of their studies. The scholarship program supports three cohorts of 4 students over a period of four years.

Intellectual Merit: Scholarship students benefit from a highly fertile multidisciplinary educational environment and a strong and diversified, high quality IA curriculum, which is among the only eight in the nation that has been certified for all the five national IA educational standards set by the Committee on National Systems Security (CNSS). The program establishes a well-coordinated management and administration structure to ensure that: (1) Scholarship opportunities are available to highly competitive, students from underrepresented groups in IA, (2) Scholarship students are provided with appropriate mentoring support throughout their academic program, and (3) Scholarship students are engaged in professional development and synergistic activities that enrich their academic experience.

Broader Impact: The program places significant emphasis on the recruitment of students from underrepresented groups in IA areas through its links with minority serving postsecondary institutions such as the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and Lincoln University. The program also benefits from synergistic interactions among the various IA and homeland defense related initiatives within the university.

SmartCare: Innovations in Caregiving Interventions

Multiple studies have shown that the psychological and physical consequences of providing care to a family member with a chronic illness can include anxiety, depressive symptoms, burden, altered immune function, poor overall health, and increased overall mortality. The proposed study addresses research priorities set by both NCI and NINR to improve the quality of life of patients and their families and NINR’s emphasis on integrating bio-behavioral science and adopting, adapting and generating new technologies. The significance of the project is great in terms of its potential societal and economic impact. The web-based and telephone intervention delivery allows for easy translation and should the hypotheses be supported, this trial could fundamentally change how caregiver interventions are delivered.

Standards: People, Process, Products, and Productivity: Focus on Information Technology Standards

This proposal suggests a one year development effort for a curriculum on technical standards in the information technology field that can be used in a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses. The basic approach to standards education explores the importance of standards backed by the fundamental rationale for standards. Ten four-part modules on topics within the field of standards education will be developed in collaboration with NIST personnel.

Techno-Economic Models of Secondary Spectrum Use

There still exist barriers to adoption of dynamic spectrum access techniques and technologies. A significant barrier to adoption is that the constraints of both primary and secondary users of spectrum are still foggy. The incentives that primary users have for sharing have been studied, though these studies often do not consider the business strategies, investment, and technological risks that primary users face. The decision processes of potential secondary users that sheds light on the circumstances under which they may select a particular dynamic spectrum access choice has received little or no attention. It is the objective of this proposal to fill this gap by creating a comprehensive framework for analyzing (and thereby providing a quantitative evaluation of) the choices that secondary users of spectrum may have, both in terms of technical and business risk aspects. This proposal addresses two types of stakeholders in the secondary market for spectrum. The first stakeholder comprises entrants to the market who need a sound method and metrics for quantifying their spectrum choices and the second stakeholder comprises regulatory agencies that also need such methods and metrics to advise their policy making in this area in order to encourage an economically viable secondary market that can better utilize the available spectrum.

Teen Health Information Behavior and Social Q&A: A Study to Investigate Teens’ Assessments of the Accuracy, Credibility, and Reliability of Health Information about Eating Disorders in Yahoo! Answers

This research project will investigate teens assessments of health information found on Yahoo! Answers, a Social Q&A site, in order to discover their perspectives on the accuracy, credibility, and reliability of health information on the social Web. The study will contribute to the greater understanding of youth information behavior, health information literacy, and the role of Social Q&A in the provision of health information for young people. It will also support the development of instructional interventions in health information literacy as well as lay the groundwork for the investigators future research in designing health information systems for young people.

Training Faculty to Teach Responsible Conduct of Research and Professional Skills

Responsible conduct in research (RCR) is an essential part of good science. Furthermore, a strong case exists for combining training in RCR with training in other aspects of professionalism, including the ability to communicate scientific results orally and in peer-reviewed manuscripts, teaching, and mentoring. The NIH has recently issued requirements for RCR training that suggest a minimum of eight hours of training, provided in person and involving research faculty. They have also suggested nine areas that the training should cover. Unfortunately, many institutions are not prepared to provide such training. In this application, funding is requested to provide an annual trainer-of-trainers conference that will help faculty and establish courses at their home institutions in RCR and professional skills.

Assessing the “Neighborhood Effect” with Social Media Traces

The emerging social and mobile technologies have linked both urban places and cyberspace in complex ways through flows and capacities of information and communications across geographic distance. In everyday urban life, people interact with each other not only through face-to-face meetings, but more through mobile communication devices and Internet-based media like emails and social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). Such mediated communication behavior leaves fine-grained “digital traces” about when, where, what one talks about and to whom, offering an unprecedented opportunity to study and understand the structure and dynamics of social and information behavior. There has been booming interest in discovering human dynamics and urban actives, based on these “big data” – the large-scale user-generated data. However, despite the recent progress in unfolding the spatial phenomena in a data-driven manner, little work has connected the socio-spatial interplay with the profound neighborhood effect observed in social science literature.  This project aims at filling an important gap in prior research on the understanding of neighborhood effect on people’s daily activities observed in certain forms of cyberspace, particularly on the social and health-related aspects captured by sentiments, e.g., the expressions of happiness, anger and depression. Using large-scale Twitter communication streams, we attempt to characterize the coupling and decoupling between individuals’ daily sentiments and their neighborhoods’.

A Curriculum for Security Assured Health Informatics

The Information Sciences and Telecommunications (IST) programs at the School of Information Sciences (SIS) and the Health Information Management (HIM) program at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) in the University of Pittsburgh propose to collaboratively develop integrated curriculum on Security Assured Healthcare Informatics (SAHI) in their undergraduate and graduate level programs. The key goal is to develop multiple SAHI tracks with curriculum components focused on Healthcare IT (HIT) within the IST programs, and a track focused on Healthcare Security and Privacy (HS&P) within the HIM program. In addition to this, we plan to create a curriculum that fosters research and doctoral studies in SAHI areas.

Focus on School Librarian Professional Development

This second collaboration between the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and the University of Pittsburgh School Library Certification Program, builds on the two successful accomplishments of the 2014 LSTA grant: 1) the inaugural Emerging Leaders Academy of 23 participants and 2) the completion of The Model Curriculum for PA School Library Programs. This grant proposal will extend the Emerging Leaders Academy to a second cohort of 21-23 PA librarians new to the profession who demonstrate leadership potential. Mentors and coaches will guide ELs through their preparation for the new PDE Educator Effectiveness System based on their classification as either classroom teacher or non-teaching professional and help them prepare their supporting evidence across the four domains of the Danielson Framework. To prepare for this mentoring, the Director will convene an expert panel of experienced librarians and administrators for an intensive two-day planning session to prepare a process and procedures guide and documentation for these two options, describe how to incorporate The Model Curriculum as the key teaching activity, and how to identify and gather supporting evidence. (This documentation will be shared with all PA librarians via the PSLA website and webinars.)

Influence of Cultural Factors on Trust in Automation

The proposed work studies the influence of cultural factors on trust in automation. Our overall research approach will be threefold. First, we will extend current instruments measuring trust in automation to develop a scale-invariant cross-cultural measure. Second, we will develop a reference task/testbed incorporating the variety of task types and scenarios identified from our review of the trust in automation literature. Finally, we will validate our measure and tasks by performing experimental studies to investigate trust in automation and its effect on automation reliance for US, Turkish, and Taiwanese populations.

Personalized Accessibility Location Services (PALS) for Wheelchair Users

Accessibility Location Services (PALS) for Wheelchair Veterans. The prototype PALS is intended to address the wayfinding and navigation needs and preferences of wheelchair users and has three components: Personalized Accessibly Map (PAM), Social Navigation Network (SoNavNet), and Personalized Navigation Service (PNS).

SOAR Website: Comparison of E-health vs In-person MFC (Multi-Family Group) Psycho-Education

The Veterans Administration Handbook specifies that Family Psycho-Education (FPE) treatment must be available to all Veterans with schizophrenia who could benefit, and their family members. This includes those receiving care at Community Based Outpatient Clinics and at Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Centers whether provided on site, by referral or by telemental health.  However, less than 5% of VA medical centers offer such treatment.  Clearly, a major challenge is to devise ways to deliver mental health treatments and services to Veterans who need them in ways that meet their needs and preferences.  This project will compare the use of a website, SOAR (Schizophrenia On-line Access to Resources), to deliver FPE to that of in-person delivered FPE.  The SOAR model incorporates web-based delivery, provides the ability of users to individualize commitment and services to meet varied preferences and needs, and is accessible from homes and smartphones.  The findings could have profound implications for the VA’s ability to improve the reach, use, appeal, and effectiveness of FPE for Veterans with schizophrenia by using an e-health model that facilitates family involvement.

Studying the Impact of Self-Disclosure on Newcomers in Virtual Production Communities

With the growth of internet and electronic technologies, virtual collaborations have become more prevalent. Virtual communities enable a very large number of people to contribute to significant endeavors, such as creating the world’s largest encyclopedia, health knowledge repository, or the scientific discovery of extraterrestrial life. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia anyone can edit, is a remarkable example of how a virtual organization can assist in knowledge dissemination. Millions of people around the world have been contributing to this free repository of knowledge for the public good. Over the last decade, virtual communities have experienced great success; however, they are not without significant challenges. For example, attracting newcomers and incorporating them into organizations is a challenge for both traditional and virtual organizations.  In this project, we propose to study newcomers’ self-disclosure in virtual communities as an approach to encourage newcomers’ interactions with the community. Self-disclosure, defined as revealing personal information to others, plays an important role in developing interpersonal relationships. The goals of this project are two-fold: we will study (i) how newcomers’ self-disclosure impacts their interaction patterns with the community and as a result (ii) how these interaction patterns influence their commitment to the community.  The results of our project will contribute to theories of self-disclosure by increasing our understanding of self-disclosure in virtual communities. At the same time, it will provide design guidelines that can be employed by practitioners of virtual communities to design their communities more effectively and lead to active and productive communities.

Threat Perception Following Mass Violence Events

The PI will lead the effort for collecting and analyzing "media data", i.e., data from major news outlets and social media like Twitter. She will design and develop computational tools for the data collection and analysis. She will also be responsible for training Research Assistants to assist the data collection and analysis. She will derive from such data, the measures of media signaling, to be used by colleagues as part of the threat perception analysis. This project will generate computer codes for (1) collecting "media data", i.e., publicly available news articles and social media data on a daily basis, and (2) codes for text analysis.

Virtualized Wireless Networks and their Impact on Capacity Markets

This project proposes the creation of virtual wireless networks by combining spectrum and infrastructure deployed by multiple entities. These entities include multiple traditional mobile operators using 2G/3G/4G technology, local operators of WiFi networks, and universities, businesses, and households that support wireless connectivity through small cell deployment. This virtual network will have the potential to utilize licensed spectrum in the cellular bands, unlicensed spectrum in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) bands, and spectrum available on an opportunistic, noninterfering basis in frequency bands currently being considered for shared use, such as TV and radar bands, and federal government spectrum, as per the recent and influential PCAST report. The PI team brings together expertise on radio resource management, the application of optimization and game theory to wireless networks, and spectrum trading and public policy.

Sustainability-aware Datacenter Management for Sustainable Cloud Computing

This project proposes a sustainability-aware datacenter resource management framework for cloud computing that considers tradeoffs between quality of service (QoS), cost, and environmental sustainability. The project aims to address the resource provisioning and run-time resource allocation problems in datacenter resource management with the goal of minimizing use-phase and manufacturing environmental impacts. The project also focuses on developing data locality models for enhancing performance of jobs through data locality while maximizing environmental sustainability. The techniques aim at achieving advancements in sustainability while achieving improvements in QoS and operational cost of datacenter management.


More Than ...

Our programs look at more than the system, the archive, or the network. Students are taught to consider the needs of the end user.

The Leading Edge

Because Pitt is one of the top public research institutions in the world, iSchool students can do research projects with faculty members who are at the leading edges of their disciplines.