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Practicum Presentations, Poster Style

Practicum Presentations, Poster Style

On April 25, as the spring semester was in its intense final days, six InfoSeekers presented practicum posters to their colleagues and Professor Chirag Shah, who had advised them on the projects. Here are representative photos of each doctoral student presenter with the title of their practicum. (Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.)

Jiqun Liu presented, “Exploring the Effects of Search Task and User Characteristics on Information Seeking Intentions in Query Segments.”
Souvick Ghosh presented, “Exploring the Ideal Depth of Neural Network in Question Deletion Prediction.”
Shannon Tomlinson presented, “Preliminary Results of a Study Comparing Typed and Voice Searches by Sighted and Visually Impaired People.”
Manasa Rath presented, “Content-Based Approach to Evaluate Question Quality in Educational Q&A.”
Soumik Mandal presented, “Predicting Intervention Effect on Users’ Search Behavior.”
Jonathan Pulliza presented, “Corpus Reproducibility and Expansion through Modular Text Transformations.”
Celebrating Ten Years of Coagmento!

Celebrating Ten Years of Coagmento!

A wedding for which the planning was facilitated by Coagmento.

Coagmento was initially developed by Chirag Shah, in 2007, as a research project for his PhD dissertation. When Dr. Shah brought Coagmento to Rutgers University, it was further developed by his PhD student Roberto Gonzalez-Ibanez, followed by several other undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers. Over the decade, many iterations of Coagmento have been released in Beta and public versions, as it continues to be tested and used and some bugs worked out. In 2013, Coagmento Collaboratory was released and later that year the first full version, Coagmento 1.0, was released. In 2016, Coagmento 2.0 was released, and later this year Coagmento 3.0 will be released with the aim to be even more user friendly.

What exactly is Coagmento and what does it do? Coagmento is a Web-based, open-source tool for information seeking that facilitates the collecting of information and collaborating on projects in teams. It helps the user at every step by recording visited Websites, bookmarking pages, and collecting pictures or snippets of text or source information. All along a live chat feature allows team members to confer from remote locations over multiple sessions. At the back-end, Coagmento is comprised of two major components: (1) Node.js, which creates a server-side notification framework and “push notifications,” and (2) is coded in Laravel, a Model-View-Controller PHP framework that supports several SQL databases. Since version 2.0, Coagmento has been available through GitHub as an open-source tool.

Coagmento 1.0 in action.

On the serious side, Coagmento can allow collaborators to work on challenging informational tasks. For example, it could help siblings gather information about their parent’s illness so they can be proactive in making decisions. In a classroom setting, Coagmento has been deployed for dozens of students to up to several hundred to facilitate collaboration. Keeping track of disparate pieces of information means that when the student/researcher sits down to write a report or create a presentation, the information is saved in a workspace where it can be put it together.

Coagmento 2.0 in action.

On the lighter side, Dr. Shah said, “When my wife Lori and I were planning our wedding, we used Coagmento to keep track of places in the North Carolina mountains for location consideration so we could make a decision with all the pieces in front of us.” He continued, “But, it’s come a long way since then as not only a tool but also a platform for supporting and studying individual and collaborative information seeking.”

Here’s a toast to the next ten years as Coagmento continues to evolve in usefulness and application to many of life’s information challenges.



Great Moments from 2017: Snapshot

Great Moments from 2017: Snapshot

On this, the 18th day of 2018, let’s take one last look at some of the great moments of 2017.

In 2017, InfoSeekers attended classes, did their homework, performed experiments, compiled results, had meetings, collaborated on papers and posters, traveled to conferences, made presentations, and socialized.

Mostly they pushed themselves to do things that haven’t been done before, zeroing in on ways to innovate efficiencies in information science.

Stay tuned for how this A-Team will top that in Twenty-eighteen.

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


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

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.