PhD Research: Not Just for the School Year Anymore

PhD Research: Not Just for the School Year Anymore

Maryland’s iSchool is at the center of groundbreaking research in the fast-moving field of information studies. With a multidisciplinary faculty studying such diverse topics as online communities, information systems, information policy, human-computer interaction, and digital cultural heritage, the iSchool cultivates doctoral students from a wide range of backgrounds.   

But how do our researchers spend their summer hours? Here's a peek inside some of the amazing projects being worked on by iSchool PhD students: 

  • Leyla Norooz is working at Google, leading a study for the Android Wear team in their San Francisco office all summer. She is also serving as a resident UXR on another team whose interests align closely with hers.

  • Fiona Jardine is becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) this summer. She is preparing her integrative paper, “Exclusive Pumping and Prenatal Information Behavior,” for submission to the Journal of Human Lactation. She is also conducting the following research project and writing it up for publication:

    • Love My Tribe: Experiences of moms in an online support group meeting offline for the first time

    • Online groups play an increasingly important role in postpartum support of parents, especially breastfeeding mothers. One such Facebook group, "Exclusive Pumping: Breastfeeding Without Nursing," and its offshoot, "EP-BWN: Off Topic Forum," is holding an offline event so that its members can meet in person for the first time. This study will collect qualitative data by interviewing attendees before and after attending the event so as to illuminate the role the online group plays in these mothers' lives and how meeting in person affects that role.

  • Jonathan Brier is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, this summer working with Caren Cooper at North Carolina State University. They are working on analyzing citizen science community behaviors across projects using data from SciStarter.com.

  • Anthony Pellicone has been working on three major projects over the summer:

    • Creating a white paper out of his dissertation work, which focuses on how people enter into the domain of video game live streaming, learn the skills and cultural values necessary to produce digital artifacts as performers of play, and how they interact with larger digital game cultures

    • Developing and implementing a pilot study about the above work, with a goal of refining methods to understand streamers and their audiences interact.

    • Leading a paper to report on a game, called Sketchventor, developed by Kari Kraus' ARG project, where players re-imagine well known inventions (e.g. The Telegraph) through scaffolded 'verbs' (e.g. Exaggerate, where players must make an aspect or a function of their invention larger than it currently is). Players use the design methodology of sketching to create new inventions, and then 'pitch' these inventions to their fellow players. The article will be submitted to a special edition of the video game journal Well Played, which is focusing on analog and tabletop games.

  • Priya Kumar is serving as a graduate research assistant on a variety of projects at the iSchool. These include studying how people who use fitness trackers conceptualize privacy related to their fitness data, how librarians and low-income families address privacy and security concerns when using public computers, and how elementary school educators address privacy and security concerns related to children's use of technology. In addition, she’s a senior research fellow with the Ranking Digital Rights project. She conducts research for the Corporate Accountability Index, which evaluates the world's largest technology companies on their respect for users' rights to freedom of expression and privacy.