Current Research Projects
Assessing the use of a Virtual Program Committee
I am currently studying changing knowledge infrastructure for HCI. Conferences and their resulting proceedings are significant publication venues for HCI. Current peer-review processes require program committee members to meet in-person to make final decisions. While this model has several benefits, including networking opportunities for junior scholars, the increase in the number of ACM SIGCHI sponsored conferences and the rapid growth in the number of disciplines and countries contributing to HCI-related research raise concerns about the sustainability of this model. Not only are the costs associated with organizing and hosting program committees similar to that of a small conference, the required travel costs and time commitments have an impact on who can participate. Junior scholars and those from the humanities, for instance, typically do not have access to discretionary travel funds. This affects the types of papers that get accepted, signals who is welcome in the community, and limits SIGCHIs ability to grow sustainably.
This project employs a mixed methods approach to assess the use of a virtual program committee to support the changing dynamics and current realities of the multidisciplinary and international HCI community. Through surveys, interviews, and observations, our team will provide recommendations on the design and implementation of a virtual program committee. In the process, it will also provide insight into the social and organizational implications of these changes. For instance, how the changing knowledge infrastructure reinforces and redistributes authority, influence, and power, and the effect of these changes on knowledge production and traditional publishing and peer-review models.
Climate Indicators and Data Provenance
I am also extending my work in the environmental sciences through a collaborative project with Andrea Wiggins at the iSchool at the University of Maryland, College Park and Melissa Kenney at the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center. This project examines how researchers from different disciplines and practical contexts use provenance information to understand and assess the credibility and usability of climate-related indicators.
Completed Research Projects
GLOBE: Evolving New Global Workflows for Land Change Science
GLOBE is an NSF funded research project that aims to transform Land Change Science research by enabling new scientific workflows that accelerate global collaboration, data integration and synthesis. GLOBE consists of an online collaborative environment that enables land change scientists and researchers to synthesize and integrate local and regional case study data in order to assess the global relevance of their work. GLOBE allows researchers and institutions to rapidly share, compare and synthesize local and regional studies using global datasets of human and environmental variables.
As a research assistant on the project, I am responsible for conducting field research on land change science work practices; designing and contributing to discussions on User Interface and User Experience (UI & UX) design for the GLOBE collaboration engine front end; managing the development and implementation of the GLOBE public facing website, including web content development, information architecture and usability; and conducting user testing and evaluation on the GLOBE interface.
In my dissertation, From Local Data to Global Knowledge: Understanding meta-study practice in Land Change Science, I explore how advances in computational methods and tools are enabling changes in scientific practice in the emergent interdiscipline of Land Change Science (LCS). Focusing specifically on their increased use of meta-studies, I adopt ethnographically-informed methods to unpack the people, processes, and technologies involved in meta-study production, and the ways in which meta-study analyses are contextualized for LCS. My findings were iteratively instantiated in software designed specifically for LCS. This research was funded by a NSF Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation Grant.
This work identifies a number of phenomenological tensions that impact the utility of meta-study research and which give rise to a host of operational challenges, such as the integration of quantitative and qualitative case study data. These challenges ultimately drive innovation in practice, as LCS researchers are faced with developing novel workarounds to accomplish synthesis. Included among these are the use of external sources for validation and explanation (e.g., global datasets from the OECD and WorldBank) and map-based visualizations to aid in sensemaking (i.e., geocontextualization). Building on much of what is known about interdisciplinarity and reuse in scientific practice, my research extends the literature by unpacking key differences, providing a window into the future of Science.
GLOBE representativeness analysis
Assessing the State and Future Trajectory of Land Change Science
We are working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Waterloo to assess the state-of-the-field and future trajectory of the Land Change Science research community. The aim of the project is to inform the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Land Project (GLP) about the state of the discipline and emerging research priorities. Data obtained in the study will also be used to frame my dissertation research and inform the design of the GLOBE system. Research questions of interest include (1) What is the current state of research in land change science? and (2) What are the priorities of the land change science community? Data will be collected in an online survey of Land Change Scientists, and focus groups will be conducted with approximately 50 individuals at the GLP Open Science Meeting (OSM) in Berlin in March 2014.
VOSS: Voluntary Virtual Organizations: Problem Solving through Collective Storytelling in MMOGs
Using data from an Alternate Reality Game, I Love Bees, this NSF funded research project is aimed at examining how ad-hoc teams of strangers work together to solve complex problems and complete ill-defined tasks. For instance, we used forum data from I Love Bees as a means to examine ad-hoc infrastructure development in Volunteer Virtual Organizations. This study examined players' tool appropriation and provided insight into the underlying principles of infrastructure assemblage, the types of ad-hoc resource provisioning, and potential means of design support.
More recently, we examined markers of leadership and expertise in I Love Bees. Given the ad-hoc nature of the game, and the fact that no hierarchical structure was built into the gameplay, we were interested the ways in which players organized themselves. We found that in the absence of structure, players assumed different roles and demonstrated different levels of expertise. As such, our findings suggest that the emergence of leadership and the development of expertise occurs in the process of taking action and in direct response to this lack of hierarchical structure. We also found that adopted military language and culture as a means to structure and arrange their play. Our findings have implications for interface designers and can be used as a way of understanding the contextual requirements for interaction, communication or progression within the systems they design.
Information Revelation, Internet Privacy Concerns and Privacy Protection on Social Network Sites: A Case Study of Facebook
For my MA thesis research I examined issues of social privacy and security on the social network site Facebook. I was interested in understanding the practices and strategies users craft to augment or circumvent the design of SNSs. For instances, what strategies have SNS users developed to negotiate the boundary between privacy and sociability? and How do SNS users address their privacy concerns?
More recently, my interest in this area has extended to include an examination of the value that arises from sharing developed strategies with a broader community, in particular how one's interaction with peers and friends influences the types of information disclosed and the ways in which users choose to protect themselves on these sites, and whether any of these user-generated practices could be harvested by designers of SNS systems to better support the needs of users.