Sneak a Peek of InfoSeekers participation @ ASIS&T 2017

Sneak a Peek of InfoSeekers participation @ ASIS&T 2017

If you will be attending ASIS&T in Washington DC at the end of this month, plan to attend sessions with fellow InfoSeekers faculty and students presenting new research. And you won’t want to miss the fun party on Monday evening! Sessions begin Saturday morning, October 28 and run through Wednesday morning, November 1.

ASIS&T 2017 Conference Program Sessions

Saturday, October 28 

8:30am – 12:30pm SIG INFOLEARN: Information and Learning Sciences Research as an Integral Scholarly Nexus (Workshop)
Rebecca Reynolds, Rutgers University
Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan

*****

Sunday, October 29

3:00pm Community Informatics (Paper session)
Identifying the Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A
Manasa Rath, Rutgers University
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Diana Floegel, Rutgers University

9:30pm Party With The Professors

*****

Monday, October 30

10:30am Information Retrieval (Paper Session)
Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks: A Field Study
Yiwei Wang, Rutgers University
Jiqun Liu, Rutgers University
Soumik Mandal, Rutgers University
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University

1:30pm Health Information Behavior Research with Marginalized Populations (Panel Session)
Blake Hawkins, University of British Columbia
Kaitlin L. Costello, Rutgers University
Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan
Amelia Gibson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Devon Greyson, British Columbia Children’s Hospital

8:30pm ASIS&T Reception, sponsored by Rutgers University

*****

Tuesday, October 31

12:30pm From Sensors to Sense-Making: Opportunities and Challenges for Information Science (Panel Session)
Cathal Gurrin, Dublin City University
Jacek Gwizdka, University of Texas at Austin
Hideo Joho, University of Tsukuba
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Vivek Singh, Rutgers University

7pm SIG CON

Chirag Shah, Rutgers University, Chair

*****

Wednesday, November 1

10:30am Learnsourcing: Is it Working or Failing, and Where to Go from Here? (Panel Session)
Manasa Rath, Rutgers University

Oleksandr Zakharchuk, Brainly Inc.
Rich Gazan, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sanghee Oh, Chungnam National University in South Korea
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Mega Subramaniam, University of Maryland

Social Events

Sunday, October 29th at 9:30pm: Party with the Professors

Monday, October 30th at 8:30pm: ASIS&T Reception

Tuesday, October 31st at 7pm: SIG CON


Congratulations to Dr. Choi!

Congratulations to Dr. Choi!

Last week our very own Dongho Choi successfully defended his dissertation, “A Study of Information Seeking Behavior: Investigating Exploratory Behavior in Physical & Online Spaces” in front of a demanding panel of fellow scholars.

Dongho Choi, center, after defending his dissertation, flanked by Vivek Singh and Chirag Shah.

Dongho’s dissertation investigates individuals’ behaviors during online and physical search tasks to identify their behavioral patterns. He gathered data from 31 participants whose behavior during web search and physical search tasks was collected via eye-tracker, web browser and wearable video recorder. His analysis suggests that individuals have preferred searching strategies that they adopt in different tasks and environments. He found that the behavioral pattern, however, was affected by the task type and the way information is structured in the environments.

Chirag Shah said, “Dongho has been an invaluable member of InfoSeeking Lab over the past four years. He worked on an NSF-funded project for social media, and a Google-funded project for sensor-based information seeking. Time flies, and I can’t believe it’s already time for Dongho to fly away! Congratulations to Dr. Choi for the successful defense of his dissertation. My best wishes to him and his family for the next chapter of their lives.”

Where in the World is Chirag Shah?

Where in the World is Chirag Shah?

Summertime can mean many things in the world of academia, and this season found our director, Dr. Chirag Shah, taking his work on an international tour. After being named a Rutgers New Brunswick Chancellor’s Scholar, receiving an NIH grant for over $1.4 million, and publishing a new book on Social Information Seeking, Dr. Shah’s 2017 has already been a great success. Check out where he’s been recently to present research!

First up, Dr. Shah served as a Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Tokyo, where he presented a talk on “Information Fostering.”

Next, he went to Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, and gave a talk on “Social Information Seeking.”

From there, Dr. Shah taught about “Social and Collaborative Search” at the Asian Summer School on Information Access, 2017. 

FINALLY, and currently, Dr. Shah has come full circle by attending the annual SIGIR conference back in Tokyo.

We’re certainly proud of our director and thrilled that work pursued by the InfoSeeking Lab is making a global impact.

All Work and No Play is…Not Our Style

All Work and No Play is…Not Our Style

Looking at our Facebook and website, it may seem like InfoSeeking is all work and no play. But we’re here to report that, happily, our lab members and their families enjoy socializing as much as they enjoy their research… In fact, they need to socialize in order to complete their difficult work without losing their minds!

The lab organizes a number of fun events throughout the year to get everyone together and unwind (and, of course, a number of less formal events happy spontaneously!). For example, we recently held one of our infamous happy hour gatherings in New Brunswick. (Hey, potential CHIIR 2018 attendees, take note of the fun you can have around Rutgers!)

We take our love of happy hour on the road too. While attending conferences, InfoSeekers past and present meet to reminisce and enjoy each other’s company.

When cocktails aren’t on our minds, we turn to some of our resident foodies for lunch ideas in and around the New Brunswick area. We’ve given a number of local eateries our business and love to celebrate milestones, accomplishments, or even just a nice Tuesday afternoon with some good food and great company.

Parties are also a must. Our director, Dr. Chirag Shah, and his family host excellent gatherings throughout the year for lab members, their families, and other RU faculty members.

And finally, to get our blood pumping (and demonstrate our charitable spirit), we participate in events like Rutgers’s Big Chill 5K!

So as you can see, our lab members certainly don’t become dull from all their hard work. We work hard, we play hard, and we try to enjoy ourselves no matter what we’re doing!

Seeking our Alumni

Seeking our Alumni

If you’ve been following our Facebook page, you know that we’ve recently been checking in with some of our distinguished alumni.

Oftentimes, folks expect doctoral students to enter traditionally academic jobs. While many of our alumni do experience great success as university professors, others utilize their degrees on alternative paths.

Recently graduated Ph.D. Long Le, for example, is a machine engineer at Capital One. He spends his time researching practical problems in the finance industry.

Dr. Chathra Hendahewa is also experiencing a great deal of success as a Data Engineer/Data Scientist at a FinTech start-up in NYC, named “Detectica.” In fact, her team was selected as a recipient of the competitive NY FinTech Innovation Lab 2017 program.

Our Ph.D.s aren’t the only former InfoSeekers to make a difference in the world post-graduation. Kevin Albertson, who recently graduated with his Master’s Degree, currently works as a software engineer for ALK Technologies, soon to be MongoDB.

With the dawning of a new school year that will usher in new student faces and see other lab members successfully complete their programs, it’s important to remember the range of careers that Rutgers SC&I graduate students can choose from. Will you soon join the ranks of these fine folks?

Exciting ASISTance for the Lab

Exciting ASISTance for the Lab

It’s been quite a week thus far in the InfoSeeking lab, and it’s only Wednesday!

On Monday, acceptances were released for the ASIST (that’s Association for Information Science and Technology) 2017 conference, held from October 27-November 1 in Washington, D.C. A number papers completed by InfoSeekers were selected! Here’s a brief recap.

Image: http://connect.hsmai.org/washingtondc/home

Yiwei Wang, Jiqun Liu, Soumik Mandal, and Chirag Shah were accepted for their paper, “Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks: A Field Study.”

Shawon Sarkar, Yiwei Wang, and Chirag Shah had a full paper, “Investigating the Relations of Information Seeking Outcomes to the Selection and Use of Information Sources,” accepted.

Manasa Rath, Chirag Shah, and Diana Floegel were accepted for their paper, “Identifying Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A.”

These papers represent a great deal of ongoing hard work carried out by lab members and their director. They are also a testament to how well InfoSeekers collaborate to complete successful projects. So congratulations, Seekers! Stay tuned for more information about ASIST 2017.

Going “Deep” into Learning

Going “Deep” into Learning

On Thursday, May 11th, the lab sponsored an exciting tutorial on Deep Learning, or a class of machine learning algorithms for feature extraction and transformation in the realm of artificial intelligence.

The tutorial covered how Brainly, a social Q&A service for students, uses deep learning for new product features including spam detection, question categorization, and finding similar content, to design personalized learning approaches for students. It presented introductory material for people without any previous experience in machine learning, so all in attendance–whether they were beginners or had preexisting knowledge of the topic–took away important information. Overall, we had twenty attendees, and they got a lot more out of the day than a free lunch!

We were honored to have Sashko Zakharchuk as our presenter. After some years in product development and management consulting, Sashko joined Google to work on personalized recommendation systems and text processing algorithms. He is now a machine learning consultant for startups including Brainly in Europe. He delivered a fascinating and informative talk.

The tutorial was a great way to end the semester on a high note for the lab. But don’t worry–we have plenty of tricks up our sleeve for the summer, and we’re continuing to plan for CHIIR 2018 in New Brunswick!

 

We Have a (New) Doctor in the House!

We Have a (New) Doctor in the House!

Long Le, a long time and much loved member of the InfoSeeking Lab, has successfully defended his dissertation, “Extracting Users in Community Question-Answering in Particular Contexts.” Congratulations, Long!

 

Long’s work holds particular import for Community Question-Answering (CQA) sites and their users. He was interested in studying the behavior of the users who participate in CQA. Specifically, he strove to understand how different types of users could be identified based on their behaviors concerning a CQA-specific problem. Rather than discuss users and their actions in a general context, Long extracted contextual situations to develop a more granular analysis of user behavior. Users are the main driving force in CQA and understanding them allows us to know the current state of their respective sites.

 

Obtaining a doctorate is no easy feat, and we’re all incredibly proud of Long and everything he has accomplished. Look out for him in the future–he’ll certainly move forward into big and bright places. Of course, he and his family will also be terribly missed by everyone in the InfoSeeking Lab, but we’re thrilled to count him among our distinguished alumni.

 

Journals: Not Just for Feelings

Journals: Not Just for Feelings

A big congratulations to InfoSeeking’s own Jiqun Liu, a first-year doctoral student whose paper, “Towards a Unified Model of Human Information Behavior: An Equilibrium Perspective,” was accepted by the prestigious Journal of Documentation!

So what is the Journal of Documentation, anyway? A collection of people’s diaries? Not quite. In InfoSeeking-land (and academia, more generally) we strive to have our work accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, or those serial publications that’s submissions are reviewed by respected members of a certain field. And when it comes to information science, the Journal of Documentation is about as good as it gets. It’s one of the longest-running information science publications and boasts a particular focus on theories and concepts.

Out of the many submissions sent to this journal, Jiqun’s was selected. How? Well, first he had to do his research. With this paper, Jiqun aimed to build a unified model of human information behavior (HIB) for integrating classical constructs and reformulating the structure of HIB theory. Sounds simple, right? HA. Essentially, Jiqun used a complex theory, known as the “equilibrium perspective,” to construct a new framework for HIB. And with this new framework, other scholars–perhaps even some InfoSeekers and Jiqun himself!–will be able to explore HIB from new, exciting perspectives. This is an intriguing possibility in information science, and the Journal of Documentation‘s reviewers agreed, because they accepted Jiqun’s paper!

This is a tangible example of how InfoSeekers innovate and shape the wider information science field. Keep an eye out for Jiqun’s article, which will be formally published in August.

Armed Conflict – a project with the United Nations

Armed Conflict – a project with the United Nations

Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is” – Tony Blair

In 2001 Wallensteen, & Sollenberg defined an armed conflict as a contested incompatibility that concerned a government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one was the government of a state, resulted in at least 25 battle-related deaths. However, thanks to the rapid evolution of the nature of conflicts, the above definition and most of our conception and previous studies of armed conflicts are rapidly becoming outdated. For example, their root cause is gradually shifting from territorial gains to other, far more pressing agendas such as gaining control of valuable natural resources including water, energy supplies, sources of rare earth minerals, etc. In this post, I will tell you a bit about armed conflicts and related research, and what myself and some other lab members are doing to contribute to conflicts’ end.

In the early 1970s, environmental issues emerged on the international political agenda. Since then there has been mounting concern that environmental disruption is likely to increase the number of disputes originating from competition for scarce resources (Gleditsch, 1998). Former Norwegian Defense Minister Johan Jørgen Holt (1989) echoed this idea when he cautioned the world that environmental stress was likely to become an increasingly potent contributing factor to major conflicts between nations.

However, that doesn’t mean that territorial claim has entirely lost its potency in terms of its contribution to the conflicts. Recently, economic zones have escalated the territorial conflicts. Disputes occur between countries in close proximity to the sea where tiny islands can sometimes assume monumental national interest because of their consequences for controlling maritime shipping lanes. For example, there are no less than six claimants to all or part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (Denoon & Brams, 1997), where the use of force anytime cannot be ruled out.

Beyond motivations behind armed conflicts, the nature of war is also changing. For example, the last decade saw a major increase in the number of prolonged civil wars as opposed to short-term border skirmishes. Iraq and Syria provide prime examples. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria, facing probably the worst civil war crisis in centuries, has already witnessed at least 321,358 casualties since the war began in March 2011.

(Picture: Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22. Credit: James Lawler Duggan)

In 2003, Richard Smalley identified war as the sixth (of ten) biggest problem facing humanity for the next fifty years. War usually results in significant deterioration of infrastructure and the ecosystem, a decrease in social spending, famine, large-scale emigration from the war zone and often the mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians.

(Picture: A man sits amid debris after an apparently random air attack by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo. Credit: Hosam Katan/Reuters)

Still more disturbing is the fact that those who suffer most in wars are often children, who comprise our next generation. Taking note of the continuously degrading lives of children in war-torn countries, the then UN chief Ban Ki Moon opened the Security Council’s debate on children and armed conflict in August 2016 with, “In places such as Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, children suffer through a living hell.”

(Picture: France is mobilized on the issue of protection of children in armed conflicts. Credit: AFP/Simon Maina)

This is our effort to mitigate the chances of future conflicts by analyzing the characteristics of current world conflicts and studying their evolution from the historical data of previous violence, with the aim to predict what might cause future warfare. For example, we would like to gather information concerning how long conflicts last, casualties and factors contributing to conflicts’ initiation and end. We would like to draw correlations between types of countries, religion, types of parties in conflict, casualties, etc. A preliminary version of the analysis is already available at this link.