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2018: Year in Review!

2018: Year in Review!

As we close out the fall semester and rapidly approach the end of 2018, we must pause to reflect on everything we accomplished this year in the InfoSeeking Lab. We had two students successfully defend their dissertations; six students passed their qualifying exams; and, two students defended their dissertation proposals. The InfoSeeking Lab hosted the 2018 CHIIR conference, as well as attended the ASIS&T 2018 and CSCW 2018 conferences. There were over a half a dozen publications and some of our InfoSeekers were recognized for their contributions to research in information science. Of course, we also made time to run in the Big Chill and socialize as a group. Here’s to a great year of hard work and a hunger to top it all in 2019!

Big Chill 2018!

Big Chill 2018!

This weekend was the annual Big Chill, a charity 5k. As always, some of our InfoSeekers joined in on the fun, exercise, and the good cause! The sun came out just long enough to break from the regular rain we’ve been experiencing to make the run enjoyable.

While some of the runners were getting ready for the race to begin, InfoSeeker Manasa Rath was able to get a shot of the big crowd.

Here’s our very own InfoSeeker, Matt Mitsui getting ready to make his way to the finish line:

And, check out this aerial shot of the race from the InfoSeeking Lab!

This marks the tail end of the Fall 2018 semester. What a great way to energize the start of finals!

A Summer of Productive Fun for InfoSeekers

A Summer of Productive Fun for InfoSeekers

Activities included travel, classes, lab meetings and socializing!

Where does one begin to describe the summer of 2018? Chirag summed it up when he said, “We had a fantastic, fun, and productive summer. I think even having lab meetings every week throughout the summer is an achievement. We learned a lot from each other and had fun doing so. InfoSeekers have won awards, presented papers, and traveled to different corners of the world. Even our alumni have done some wonderful things.”

InfoSeekers line up for an end-of-summer group photo.

The following captures just the highlights of InfoSeekers at work and play, keeping things interesting as they moved their studies forward.

Manasa Rath went to summer school in Los Angeles, and her team rated runner-up status for an award for a project for “Summer Methods Course on Computational Social Sciences.” Before attending the course, Manasa had scored full funding for her travels, accommodation and other support. (Only 11 percent of those who apply for this support receive it.) While there, she met other graduate students from the U.S. and Europe who were learning about automated textual analysis. Her team’s project concerned using word embeddings to measure ethnic stereotypes from various news corpora, including NPR (National Public Radio) and The New York Times.

Meanwhile, Souvick Ghosh did a ten-week internship as part of the LEADS-4-NDP (National Digital Platform) Fellowship Program. Each intern in the program worked with different industry partners focusing on data science problems. Vic collaborated with OCLC Research to cluster publisher names using MARC records. (OCLC is the global library cooperative that provides shared technology services; MARC stands for Machine-Readable Catalog and has provided the national standard for the description of items for the digital catalog for libraries since 1971.) In their internship work they attempted to cluster instances of MARC records that contain different information such as the title of a book, the author, the publisher, ISBN number, etc. The idea was to cluster the instances of same publisher entities, exploring different hashing and machine-learning approaches, additionally evaluating the relative importance of various features for classifying entities.

InfoSeekers continued lab meetings throughout the summer.

In other updates, Jiqun Liu and Shawon Sarkar started the recruitment phase for a study on people’s search experience and preferred supports in information seeking, the purpose of which is to improve Web search. So far, four people have completed the study. Recruitment and running the study will likely continue through mid-October.

InfoSeeking Lab Director and all-around inspired leader Chirag Shah did his share of travel this summer including a visit to Ryerson University in Toronto, where he gave a talk about data and algorithmic biases. (See his August 6 blog.) But the real fun was being able to finish his goal of making it to all 50 of the states in the U.S.

Please be sure to scroll all the way down to see the fun capper snapshot!

Diana Soltani presenting her summer research on Coagmento with a poster and a demo.
Never let it be said that InfoSeekers are anti-social. Lunch out helps punctuate the end of a great summer.
Alaska was the final frontier for Chirag’s quest to visit all 50 U.S. states. Here are Chirag and Lori Shah in a kayak in the mountains in White Pass, which is actually in the Canadian Yukon territories if you want to get picky. (Did you know that the kayak comes to us from the native peoples of Alaska, Canada and Greenland?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, have a wonderful fall semester, InfoSeekers, and a very Happy Birthday to Chirag!

InfoSeekers Convene for Graduation Celebrations

InfoSeekers Convene for Graduation Celebrations

Heartiest congratulations go to Dr. Dongho Choi and Dr. Long Le for completing their PhDs in Information Science and Computer Science, respectively. And equally ecstatic congratulations to Ms. Shawon Sarkar and Mr. Jiho An for completing their Masters in Information degrees.

Shawon Sarkar with Professor Chirag Shah.
Dr. Dongho Choi with Professor Chirag Shah.
Dr. Long Le with Professor Chirag Shah.
InfoSeekers gathered for a reunion lunch around graduation celebrations.
InfoSeekers Are Key to Success of the Third Annual CHIIR Conference

InfoSeekers Are Key to Success of the Third Annual CHIIR Conference

Three cheers to InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah and several other InfoSeekers who helped organize and host a successful CHIIR conference.

 

On March 11, some 130 researchers from 25 countries in North America, Europe and Australia descended on New Brunswick for five days of workshops, presentations, tutorials, networking and fun.

CHIIR stands for the Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval, which is sponsored by the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR), in cooperation with (SIGCHI). The international conference represents a merger of two successful past events: the Information Interaction in Context (IIiX) conference and the Human Computer Information Retrieval (HCIR) symposium, which have run since 2006 and 2007, respectively.

The events took place at the SC&I building on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers and at The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick. This year’s keynote speakers were Pertti Vakkari from Finland’s University of Tampere and Susan Dumais from Microsoft. Dr. Vakkari spoke about “Information Search Processes in Complex Tasks,” focusing on key areas in information retrieval, such as how the effect of information search would depend on task outcome. Dr. Dumais’s talk, entitled, “Better Together: Interdisciplinary Perspective on Information Retrieval,” reflected on her work in Information Retrieval and Human-Computer Interaction and provided some predictions on the future of search on the Web.

The major areas of study discussed at CHIIR 2018 included user-centered aspects of information interaction and information retrieval focusing on aspects of human involvement in search activities, and information seeking and use in context.

InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah said, “I’m very proud of InfoSeekers for representing our lab at this international conference – not just with their scholarly contributions (papers, posters, demos, doctoral consortium), but also in helping organize this event.”

Susan Dumais of Microsoft taking questions following her keynote address.
There were 22 full papers, two dozen short papers (posters), five demos, 10 doctoral dissertation proposals, four tutorials, and two workshops.
Most attendees participated in sessions on full papers, short papers,
demonstrations, and the doctoral consortium.
InfoSeekers at the welcome reception at Zimmerli Art Museum. InfoSeekers contributed four full papers, some short papers, a couple of demos, and a doctoral consortium presentation.
Nick Belkin, Pertti Vakkari and Souvick Ghosh at the Welcome Reception at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers campus, which featured the exhibition “Set in Stone: Lithography in Paris, 1815-1900.”
The banquet dinner was held at Ria Mar, a Portuguese restaurant in New Brunswick. A highlight was seeing Chirag warm up the dance floor. (Did you know he’s a trained ballroom
dancer?!)
This year’s conference was sponsored by Siemens, Rutgers SC&I, Google, and Microsoft.
A snap of the student get-together at the Hub City Brewhouse in New Brunswick.
CHIIR 2019 will be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Looking forward to 2020, the conference will be in Vancouver, Canada, and in 2021, Canberra, Australia.

Photo credits: Souvick Ghosh, Matt Mitsui, Chirag Shah.

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.

“Big Chill” Piece of Cake

“Big Chill” Piece of Cake

It was a perfect day for the 15th annual race on the College Avenue campus Saturday morning, Dec. 2. The temperature reached a high of 51 degrees Fahrenheit under a beautiful blue sky. A few key representatives of the InfoSeeking Lab were there including Chirag Shah, Matt Mitsui, Anastasia Ryssiouk, as well as yours truly, Liz Smith.

Chirag won the race with his positive attitude.

Chirag said, “InfoSeekers have participated in this event for many years and we are proud of it!” Noticed at the race, as well, were Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Debasish “Deba” Dutta, who has been on the job since July 1, and N.J. Governor-elect Phil Murphy.

This is where the truly competitive folks started.

The only entry requirement was a $15.00 unwrapped (new) toy for a child, ages 3-14. (It makes for a nice swap, as every participant is given the “Big Chill” long-sleeve tee shirt, which would probably retail for about $20.00.) After the race, according to The Daily Targum, the gifts are wrapped and sent to various local organizations, such as the Salvation Army of Bound Brook and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Anastasia pictured far right with her friend and the Big Chill mascot.

The race started at 10:00 am, with those who had paid $5.00 to have their timing tracked leading the pack. Something between 7,000 and 8,000 people participated, according to The Daily Targum. The 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) distance is easy enough for those who walked it, and it plays into Rutgers Recreation’s new initiative, “Exercise is Medicine on Campus,” where a more active lifestyle is being promoted to help students focus and manage stress. They recommend at least 115 minutes of exercise a week.

What the Marines team leader wore. “Pain is weakness leaving the body” is my new mantra.

Matt Mitsui traveled light and carried no cell phone, hence no photo, but he reported afterward by email that he had a great time; he said, “The best part of the Chill, of course, is the people. Races are largely a self-competition. But something I like to do every race (and did this time) is find someone at the end to race with towards the finish line. Regardless of who wins or loses, it’s a great way to have fun with a total stranger and to push each other.”

It was reassuring to see this on College Avenue, though I don’t think anyone needed it.

My favorite stretch was a flat scenic loop through Buccleuch Park just before the final push to the finish line. Peer pressure (total strangers cheering) and music always motivates the slow poke.

My finish line time was 49 minutes. Yay!
Gotta love these pink furry boots.
Thanksgiving Poll Results: We’re a Grateful Bunch!

Thanksgiving Poll Results: We’re a Grateful Bunch!

The jury is in and turkey wins. Of the thirteen Infoseekers who weighed in, eight (61.5%) easily tipped the scale in favor of the fowl. Only two of you prefer turducken (15.4%) and one (7.7%) prefers tofurkey (and of course that is Chirag!). Chirag said, “I’m thankful for wonderful family, friends, and colleagues who surround me. I am grateful for their willingness to embrace me as I am, and forgiving my idiosyncrasies!” Gotta love our fearless leader’s enthusiasm and self-awareness.

One person said their favorite thing about Thanksgiving is, “Turkey in all its glorious forms.” I’ll go along with that. But, thankfully, the now traditional poultry pardon happened on Tuesday this week when two of our fine-feathered friends were granted freedom from appearing on the platter.  President Trump – as is now tradition – proclaimed “Drumstick” and his sidekick “Wishbone,” will get to live out their days on a farm called “Gobbler’s Rest” at Virginia Tech. Now I don’t feel so guilty.

Food-wise, even more popular than turkey was a tie (69.2% of us) between mashed potatoes and pecan pie. Next in popularity is a tie (46.2%) between stuffing and apple pie. And five of us (38.5%) love cranberry sauce. And, there were a few who prefer food from another tradition or “other,” whatever that means.  Maybe it was Jonathan, who said he is grateful for, “Laughs with friends and family.”

In terms of celebrating styles, nine of us (69.2%) prefer being with family (and it doesn’t matter when we eat). I’ll add, as long as we get to eat! One of you said your favorite thing about Thanksgiving is “Food.” Yes. Many of our favorite things are variations on the theme of food and having a break, but one person mentioned Black Friday Sales. Another mentioned Christmas being “right around the corner.”

Several of you said (Alex, Kelly, Vic) you are thankful for family and friends. Jiqun said he is “grateful for having my wife in my life.” He is one lucky guy. Matt said he’s grateful for “my opportunity to be surrounded by a smart, like-minded (yet diverse!) research community,” and he added a smiley face, one of my favorite sign-offs. And Shawon concurred that she is “grateful for starting as a grad student again, and for getting a chance to begin all over again with a new drive, new goals and something new to prove.” You go, girl! Shannon goes along with the group that includes Matt, Shawon, Vic and Yiwei, who are thankful for faculty and colleagues and the trust that has developed that supports growing confidence in their research. Soumik and Manasa are grateful for getting to travel to new and exotic places this year. Sounds exciting.

All in all, I’m happy to report that InfoSeekers are grateful and normal. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

 

InfoSeekers Rock ASIS&T 80th Annual Meeting

InfoSeekers Rock ASIS&T 80th Annual Meeting

Rutgers University InfoSeeking students and professors were a significant presence at the ASIS&T conference at the Crystal City Hyatt in Washington DC, Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Here are the highlights.

On Oct. 28, Rebecca Reynolds from Rutgers, led a pre-conference SIG/INFOLEARN workshop with Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan, called “Information and Learning Sciences Research as an Integral Scholarly Nexus.”

On Oct. 29, an all-Rutgers student and professor Community Informatics paper presentation was made by Manasa Rath, Chirag Shah and Diana Floegel: “Identifying the Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A.” Pictured at left is Manasa Rath taking questions.

On Monday, Oct.  30, an all-Rutgers Information Retrieval paper presentation on a field study was made by Yiwei Wang, Jiqun Liu, Soumik Mandal, and our fearless leader Chirag Shah, on “Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks.”  Pictured: Yiwei Wang introducing the paper.

Later, on Oct. 30, Kaitlin Costello from Rutgers served on a panel session concerning “Health Information Behavior Research with Marginalized Populations,” along with Blake Hawkins, University of British Columbia, Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan, Amelia Gibson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Devon Greyson, British Columbia Children’s Hospital.

InfoSeeker posters were presented by Jonathan Pulliza, Souvick Ghosh, JiHo An, and Roberto González Ibáñez.  Below to the right is Jonathan Pulliza presenting his poster on “Investigating the Efficacy of Sentence Filtering in Predicting Analysts Ratings Following a 10-K Filing.”

Immediately below (left) is Souvick Ghosh presenting his and Chirag Shah’s poster on “Information Seeking in Learning-Oriented Search.”

What’s a hard day’s work at ASIS&T without a chance to relax, reflect and socialize? InfoSeekers, pictured at table, never miss an opportunity for good food and conversation.
Oct. 31 was the day for Chirag Shah and Vivek Singh, from Rutgers, to serve on a panel called “From Sensors to Sense-Making: Opportunities and Challenges for Information Science.” Also on the panel were Cathal Gurrin, Dublin City University; Jacek Gwizdka, University of Texas at Austin; and Hideo Joho, University of Tsukuba.

That evening (Halloween), Chirag Shah chaired SIG/CON, where Jonathan Pulliza presented a research talk with a twist!

On Nov. 1, the final morning of ASIS&T 2017, Rutgers Ph.D. student Manasa Rath moderated the panel discussion, “Learnsourcing: Is it Working or Failing, and Where to Go from Here?” Presenters and participants were Chirag Shah from Rutgers; Oleksandr Zakharchuk from Brainly Inc.; Rich Gazan from the University of Hawaii; Sanghee Oh from Chungnam National University in South Korea; and Mega Subramaniam from the University of Maryland.

Also on Nov. 1, Shawon Sarkar, Yiwei Wang and Chirag Shah presented the paper, “Investigating Relations of Information Seeking Outcomes to the Selection and Use of Information Sources.”

Pictured right is Shawon Sarkar presenting her paper.

 

 

 

 

Last but most definitely not least, we must recognize Yiwei Wang for the New Leader Award that she was given at ASIS&T. After considering applications from seven countries, the ASIS&T Leadership Program Selection Committee granted a New Leader Award to Yiwei Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science at Rutgers. Eight students received the award. Congratulation, Yiwei!