School of Information Sciences

And More News ...

iSchool hosts session with GlobalPittsburgh to train Russian information technology specialists

The iSchool was proud to host a professional training session with GlobalPittsburgh for four guests invited to the United States through the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress. From November 16 through the 24, participants met with representatives from a number of local educational and government institutions and discussed topics relevant to information technology such as innovation, educational policy, market development trends, and policies for cloud technologies, among others. Learn more.

Expanding International Ties: Dean Larsen and Dr. He visit China

Dean Larsen and Associate Professor Daqing Hé visited six universities in China in October 2013. The itinerary began with a visit to the College of Electronic and Information Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai, where mutual interests in computing research were explored with faculty. From Shanghai, Dean Larsen and Dr. Hé proceeded to Nanjing, where a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Nanjing University School of Information Management and with the School of Economics and Management at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology. These two agreements launch valuable new relationships with these two major universities that are expected to include faculty and student exchange, collaborative research, and co-sponsorship of scholarly workshops and conferences. Learn more.

Bowler named Remake Learning Fellow 2013-2014 by Sprout Fund

The iSchool congratulates Dr. Leanne Bowler on being named a Remake Learning Fellow by the Sprout Fund for the 2013-2014 academic year. The Remake Learning Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Bowler for her history of and commitment to the concept of “Connected Learning,” the theme of this year’s fellowship program. On the Remake Learning website, Sprout Program Officer Dustin Stiver explains, “Connected learning is about leveraging digital tools, new media, and creative learning experiences in order to meet students where they are, across environments.” As a Remake Learning Fellow, Dr. Bowler will focus on creating “relevant learning experiences for students in the context of the making world.” Learn more.

Faculty position open at the iSchool

The School of Information Sciences ( at the University of Pittsburghis seeking to fill a faculty position in Archives and Information Science (AIS) at an Assistant/Associate Professor level – Position #27041 (Non-tenure stream). The initial appointment is expected to be three years. Learn more.

Christine L. Borgman honored with Pitt’s 225 Medallion

The iSchool is delighted to recognize alumna Christine L. Borgman with the University of Pittsburgh’s 225th Anniversary Medallion. In a special dinner in Los Angeles, Dean Ronald Larsen presented Dr. Borgman (MLS ‘74) with the medallion, which commemorates the University of Pittsburgh’s 225th Anniversary by recognizing alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professional fields and who still find ways to contribute to the progress of Pitt and our students. Learn more.

Dr. Liz Lyon joins iSchool faculty as Visiting Professor

The iSchool is excited to announce Dr. Liz Lyon will be joining our faculty for an 18-month term as Visiting Professor. Dr. Lyon has served from 2000 as Director of UKOLN at the University of Bath, UK, where she leads work to promote synergies between digital libraries and open science environments, and from 2004 has also served as the Associate Director of the UK Digital Curation Centre. Dr. Lyon has served on a number of national and international strategic bodies, the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s Methods & Infrastructure Committee, the US National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Cyber-Infrastructure and Data & Visualization Task Force, and the League of European Research Universities Working Group on Research Data. Although Dr. Lyon has previously worked in various university libraries in the UK, her background was originally in Biological Sciences and she has a doctorate in cellular biochemistry. Learn more.

iSchool remembers Professor Emeritus Anthony Debons

The iSchool at Pitt regrets to announce the passing of one of the foremost pioneers of Information Science, Professor Emeritus Anthony Debons. Dr. Debons passed away on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Celebrated for his tireless efforts in the field of information science, Debons also held the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force, and was recognized by many diverse nations, institutions and organizations for his contributions to society. During his time as Professor and Vice Chairman of the Interdisciplinary Department of Information Science (1968-1986), Dr. Debons also served as an advisor to NATO, Honorary Consul to the Republic of Malta, and Chairman of the Board, Research Institute for Information Science and Engineering. Learn more.

LIS Program Celebrates 10 HASTAC Scholars

The iSchool congratulates the Library and Information Science program on sponsoring 10 HASTAC Scholars. This year, nine doctoral students and one Master’s student were selected to be a part of the 2014 HASTAC Scholars program. The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) is a “consortium of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and engineers committed to new forms of collaboration across communities and disciplines fostered by creative uses of technology.” Dr. Leanne Bowler, Assistant Professor, will mentor the 10 students as they make contributions to the HASTAC website and connect with other members of the HASTAC community. Learn more.

Brian Beaton named Interim Director, Sara Fine Institute

The iSchool is pleased to announce Dr. Brian Beaton has been named Interim Director of the Sara Fine Institute (SFI). In 1998, the Institute was established and named in honor of Dr. Sara Fine (1932-2012), a long-time professor at the School of Information Sciences (1975-1998). Dr. Fine dedicated her career to investigating the psychological and sociological effects of new technologies. In the 15 years since its establishment, the SFI has promoted the study of technologies and cultures, with the focus on information technologies, interpersonal behavior, and human-machine interactions, after the pioneering research of Dr. Fine. Learn more.

Brusilovsky wins “Outstanding Full Paper Award” at ICALT 2013

Professor Peter Brusilovsky and collaborators won the “Outstanding Full Paper Award” at ICALT 2013, the 13th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies in Beijing, China. ICALT is the premiere international conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Technical Committee on Learning Technology. Its Proceedings are the only conference proceedings to be included in the Top 20 of the Google Scholar Educational Technology listing. Dr. Brusilovsky, Chair of the Information Science Program, headed the research team of Dhruba Bayshia, a graduate of the MSIS program currently at AOL, Roya Hosseini and Julio Guerra, students of the iSchool at Pitt, and MinEr (Michelle) Liang, a visiting scholar from the School of Information Science at Fudan University. Their paper, “KnowledgeZoom for Java: A Concept-Based Exam Study Tool with a Zoomable Open Student Model” presented an innovative, personalized exam preparation system, KnowledgeZoom. KnowledgeZoom combines two of the most popular exam preparation approaches, open student modeling and problem sequencing, into one integrated tool. In the paper, the team investigated both components of exam preparation and discussed preliminary results and lessons learned.

Beaton receives Central Research Development Fund (CRDF) Award

The University Research Council of the University of Pittsburgh has selected Dr. Brian Beaton to receive a two-year Central Research Development Fund (CRDF) award to support “Creating A National Data Management Strategy for Citizen Science.” These Pitt grants are awarded to researchers to develop promising research ideas to a point suitable for submission to external funding agencies. With these funds, Dr. Beaton will investigate the history and culture of citizen science, with a focus on citizen science data practices and the unique data management challenges presented by such citizen science research. The term “citizen science” refers to the rapidly growing culture of collaborative scientific research being conducted on a voluntary basis. The ultimate goal of this exploratory research is to develop a national data management strategy for citizen science. Learn more.

iSchool welcomes new faculty: Babichenko, Lin, and Palanisamy

The iSchool is pleased to welcome three new faculty members: Dmitriy Babichenko, Yu-Ru Lin, and Balaji Palanisamy. All three will begin teaching in the Fall 2013 Term. Professor Babichenko will be teaching courses in the undergraduate program and supervising the internship program. Professors Lin and Palanisamy will offer courses in the undergraduate and the Graduate Information Science & Technology programs. Dmitriy Babichenko comes to the School with years of experience in the corporate IT arena at Litigation Solutions, Alcoa, Mediasite, US Information Systems, and Logicon Syscon, Inc. Yu-Ru Lin recently served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the College of Computer and Information Sciences at Northeastern University and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. Balaji Palanisamy joins the iSchool faculty upon completion of his doctoral studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Learn more.

New Fall 2013 students are here!

The iSchool looks forward to welcoming all of the new students for the Fall 2013 term. Beginning August 19th, the iSchool will be busy orienting and assisting the new students who have enrolled in one of the School’s seven degree programs. The School is expecting as many as 284 graduate students and 42 undergraduates to begin their programs of study: Bachelor of Science in Information Science, Library and Information Science (Master’s and PhD), Information Science and Technology (Master’s and PhD), and Telecommunications and Networking (Master’s and PhD). Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and regions including 16 different countries: the United States, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates. New students from the United States represent more than 27 states. Welcome to the iSchool…we’re so glad that you are joining our community!

iSchool hosted Summer Recognition Ceremony

On Friday, August 2nd, the iSchool hosted a Recognition Ceremony to honor those students who graduated from the School of Information Sciences in June and August of 2013. Held at the O’Hara Center, more than 200 guests joined Dean Larsen and the faculty to mark this special occasion. Each term, the iSchool hosts this intimate Recognition Ceremony (in addition to any University-wide celebrations) in order to personally congratulate the many students who have successfully completed one of the School’s degree programs. Learn more.

Brusilovsky receives Fulbright honor

Professor Peter Brusilovsky has been selected as the “Fulbright-Nokia Distinguished Chair in Information and Communications Technologies” at the Helsinki Institute of Information, the University of Helsinki and the Aalto University in Finland. The Fulbright-Nokia Distinguished Chair is considered to be the preeminent Fulbright Scholar Program. Dr. Brusilovsky will hold this Fulbright position from August through November of 2013. Learn more.

iSchool’s MLIS program re-accredited by ALA

The School of Information Sciences is proud to announce that the American Library Association (ALA) has granted continued accreditation status to the MLIS program. This continued accreditation, issued without conditions on July 1, will be in effect until 2020 when the program will undergo another review by the Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the ALA. The iSchool’s MLIS program has been continually accredited since 1962. Learn more.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards grant to support i3 diversity program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has approved a three-year grant of $819,000 to the School of Information Sciences, to support the iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3). The institute is working to increase the diversity of students enrolled in graduate programs at U.S.-based Information Schools (iSchools). This is the third grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development and hosting of the i3 program, bringing the total donation to more than $1.5 million. Learn more.

Farzan and Beaton win Manners Award

The University of Pittsburgh University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) has announced the winners of the Steven D. Manners Faculty Development Awards for 2013, which include iSchool faculty members Rosta Farzan and Brian Beaton. They will research how to design effective systems to meet the information needs of non-profits when managing and presenting data about the group’s impact on the community. The Manners Award will fund a pilot study into local not-for-profits’ current endeavors and tools to document their success at mission-related activities, and to determine how future systems should be designed and implemented in order to facilitate reporting to funding agencies. The PIs hope to use this initial work to seek funding from outside agencies to support the development of data collection and analysis tools. Learn more.

Karimi edits text on Location-based services

Hassan Karimi, iSchool Professor, has edited a new book on “Advanced Location-based Technologies and Services,” published by CRC Press of the Taylor & Francis Group. The volume offers in-depth explorations of the technologies, new trends, and services involved with location-based services (LBS), written by a diverse group of researchers in areas including telecommunications, GIS, and information assurance and privacy. Location-based services have become pervasive as the number of users of mobile devices have increased and as computing capabilities have become ubiquitous. Students and researchers will benefit from this discussion of the state-of-the-art theories, technologies, and applications in LBS as the field changes rapidly. Learn more.

iSchool welcomes i3 Scholars in June!

The School of Information Sciences is pleased to welcome the incoming cohort of i3 scholars – participants in the 2013 iSchool Inclusion Institute. Beginning on June 2nd, the 20 members of the 2013 cohort will take up residence for a month at the iSchool, initiating their exploration of the Information Sciences as well as potential academic and career opportunities available with advanced study in the discipline. Learn more.

Pitt grant to fund research experience portal for iSchool students

The University of Pittsburgh has awarded a grant ($17,000+) to Brian Beaton, Assistant Professor, and Wesley Lipschultz, Manager of Student Services, to support the creation of a Web portal to facilitate the participation of graduate students in iSchool research projects. The “Research Experience Portal” will feature faculty-led research problems and projects, describing the available research opportunities and how students can interact with the project and faculty outside of the classroom. Students will be able to volunteer for specific tasks and projects of interest to them, completing the tasks and uploading them back into the system for faculty review and comments. The system will enable students to work with faculty from across the School’s degree programs, to gain specific research skills and experiences, and to participate in rigorous research endeavors on their own time. It also offers them the opportunity to apply what they learned in the classroom about research methodologies to real-world research efforts, thus experiencing the dynamic, challenging and cross-disciplinary nature of research in the Information Sciences. Learn more.

Martin Weiss promoted to Full Professor

The iSchool is pleased to announce that Martin B.H. Weiss has been promoted to Full Professor, recognizing his many accomplishments in research, teaching and administration. Weiss serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research at the iSchool, in addition to his faculty appointment. He holds a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in computer, information and control engineering from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in EE from Northeastern University. Prior to joining the iSchool faculty, he was a member of the technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories and at MITRE Corporation and a senior consultant at Deloitte Haskins and Sells. He has performed techno–economic research in telecommunications and telecommunications policy over the past 20 years, including studies of the standardization process, economics of VoIP, economics of internet interconnection, and most recently cooperative secondary use of electromagnetic spectrum. He teaches introductory telecommunications courses and classes on management and telecommunications policy. He is the author of two books, and numerous articles exploring secondary spectrum markets, cooperation amongst competitors in the telecommunications market, and spectrum trading. Professor Weiss is currently working on several projects, funded by the National Science Foundation, on Techno-Economic Models of Secondary Spectrum Use, spectrum sharing, and dynamic spectrum access.

Sosnovsky (Phd ’12), profiled in International Innovation

Sergey Sosnovsky, who earned his PhD in Information Science in 2012, was recently profiled in International Innovation Magazine about his work on eLearning systems research and tools. Sosnovsky is the Principal Researcher and Head of the Intelligent e-Learning Technology Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Saarbruken, Germany. The article explored his work on the Intelligent Support for Authoring Semantic Learning Content project funded by the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service. The magazine article (published March 2013) discussed how Sosnovsky’s project will enhance adaptive e-Learning by making it possible to develop smart instructional material for a broader audience of content authors. The article can be viewed at, beginning on page 71.

Beaton wins Thornburgh Forum Faculty Grant

Brian Beaton, Assistant Professor at the School of Information Sciences, has been awarded a Faculty Academic Support Grant from the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy. The $2500 grant will be used to identify research materials for a new graduate course to be offered at the iSchool. The  Faculty Academic Support Grant Program supports the inclusion of the Dick Thornburgh Archive Collection into course instruction in the many degree programs offered at Pitt. Learn more.

Karimi wins Best Paper Award at 2013 W2GIS

Hassan Karimi, Professor at the iSchool, won the Best Paper Award at the 2013 Web and Wireless GIS Conference in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The conference, W2GIS, explores the continuing advances in the diffusion, usage, and processing of geo-referenced data. In particular, W2GIS looks at leading edge topics that expand traditional GIS research into the realm of intelligent media. Professor Karimi presented a paper on “Accessibility Maps (PAMs) for Communities with Special Needs,” one of his new research projects to develop and implement a personalized way finding and navigation system. The paper described Dr. Karimi’s work to create a mapping and route recommendation system for those with physical disabilities to determine the safest accessible routes between locations. The PAM tool is designed to be utilized on both stationary kiosks, Web sites, and mobile devices.

Thompson, Professor Emeritus, wins NSF grant to study network topographies

Richard Thompson, Professor Emeritus at the iSchool, has secured a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $45,563.00 to investigate how network design can resolve problems with routing and wavelength assignment, thereby making networks more resilient. The project, which will run through February 2014, aims to determine which types of topologies for long-haul optical networks will result in minimized wavelength interchange, a common problem which adversely affects network costs, flexibility, and resiliency. Dr. Thompson, who retired in 2012, joined the iSchool in 1989 as a full professor and taught a myriad of courses on electronic communications, switching systems, intelligent networks, and designing computer and networking services. His research interests include communications switching systems, especially photonic switching; intelligent networks; terminals; user services and the human interface; fault tolerance and cellular automata; and probabilistic formal languages. He served as chair and co-chair of the graduate program in Telecommunications for 17 years, helping to create the School’s prestigious Master’s and PhD programs – among the first in the United States.

Spring elected University Senate President

Michael Spring has been elected President of University Senate,  which is the official University body for shared governance. Through its various committees, the Senate considers and makes recommendations concerning educational policies and other matters of University-wide concbrusiern. The organization fosters discussion and maintains communication channels among students, staff, faculty, administrative officers, and the Board of Trustees. Spring, an Associate Professor at the iSchool will begin his service as President on July 1, 2013. This year-long office is merely the latest Dr. Spring’s long career of service to the University. Since joining the faculty of the School of Information Sciences in 1986, he has held positions on the University Senate Council, the Faculty Assembly, the Senate Budget Policies Committee (he currently serves on this committee), the Senate Plant Utilization and Planning Committee, and the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees. Learn more.

Brusilovsky wins Army Contract to develop social personalized learning architecture

Peter Brusilovsky, Professor at the iSchool, has been awarded a contract by the United States Army Contracting Command to participate in the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative. Brusilovsky’ s contract, for $623,005 over a three-year period, will support his work on the architecture, algorithms, and interfaces for a Personal Assistant for Learning (PAL), one of the major endeavors undertaken by the ADL Initiative. Through a PAL, the Initiative will provide state of the art education and training -- using technology and innovative learning methodologies -- for workforce members in the Department of Defense and the federal government. Specifically, Brusilovsky will explore the benefits of open social learner modeling and adaptive navigation support to PAL users; he will then develop the infrastructure and algorithms necessary to implement social personalized learning over multiple domains as part of the ADL. This project leverages Brusilovsky’s vast experience in adaptive navigation, personalized learning, e-learning, and visualization tools and interfaces. Learn more.

Beaton awarded a Strong Research Fellowship

Brian Beaton, Assistant Professor at the iSchool, has been awarded a Strong Research Fellowship to conduct Research at the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) in Rochester, NY. Dr. Beaton will spend two weeks at ICHEG in June. The ICHEG holds one of the world’s largest collections of electronic games and game-related materials. The purpose of Beaton’s research is to understand science-themed games from the early PC era as part of his work on citizen science and its precursors. At ICHEG, Beaton will investigate early electronic games that promoted scientific literacy, allowed players to engage in science-related tasks, and simulated scientific work and workplaces. Beaton will also be investigating how early science-themed electronic games were designed and marketed. Learn more.

iSchool celebrates opening of Student Collaboration Center

On March 19th, Dean Larsen welcomed students, faculty and staff to the new iSchool Student Collaboration Center, located on the third floor of the Information Sciences Building. The space, designed based on input from iSchool students, will provide students with appropriate spaces for studying in groups or alone, working on team projects, and collaborating with research or classroom colleagues across the world. The design addresses faculty and students’ increasing calls for collaborative study and research space. The redesigned Collaboration Space on the third floor will incorporate a number of enclosed meeting spaces with conferencing and collaboration technology. It will also feature refreshment facilities, comfortable seating, spaces for small-group teaching and seminars, and places where students can practice conference or classroom presentations. Learn more.

Brusilovsky named Editor-In-Chief of IEEE Journal

The iSchool congratulates Peter Brusilovsky, Professor, on being appointed the Editor-In-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, a journal dedicated to advancing the state of the art in technology-enhanced learning. This quarterly publication covers leading edge research on topics such as educational software applications, online learning systems, and simulation systems for education and training. Learn more.

Daqing He wins an “Honorable Mention” at iConference 2013

The iSchool congratulates Daqing He, Associate Professor, on his “Honorable Mention” Award at the 2013 iConference. Dr. He, and his collaborator Dan Wu from Wuhan University in China, were recognized for their research paper on “A Study on Q & A Services Between Community-based Question Answering and Collaborative Digital Reference in Two Languages.” Learn more.

Brian Beaton will collaborate on Humanities Center Grant

Brian Beaton, Assistant Professor here at the iSchool, and Gavin Steingo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Music, have been awarded a Humanities Center Collaborative Research Grant. These Pitt grants aim to support projects that bring together faculty from different departments or institutions. Beaton and Steingo will be looking at the social and aesthetic implications of crowdsourced musical compositions. As part of this work, the researchers will be identifying prominent crowdsourced compositions, investigating interactions between listeners and composers, assessing claims that musical production is becoming more democratic, and exploring how music is starting to behave more like information. This research will culminate in a half-day symposium for University of Pittsburgh faculty and students. The symposium, tentatively titled “Crowdsourced Music: Social and Aesthetic Implications,” will be held in late April. Learn more.

NSF projects underway at the iSchool

Vladimir Zadorozhny, Associate Professor at the iSchool, is serving as co-PI on an NSF-funded project to study global social patterns over time. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Social and Economic Sciences for $282,023 over a two-year period. Dr. Zadorozhny is partnering with the Center for Historical Information and Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh. To understand global social patterns as they exist today, it is increasingly clear that we need to understand how they have evolved over recent centuries. Learn more.

Faculty and students participate in 2013 iConference in Texas!

The School of Information Sciences is well-represented at the iConference, February 12-15, in Fort Worth, Texas. This annual conference, hosted this year by the College of Information at the University of North Texas, brings together researchers and administrators from the international consortium of higher education institutions that address information. This year’s theme is “Scholarship in Action: Data, Innovation, and Wisdom.” Learn more.


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