IST professor receives endowment, hopes to inspire female students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jessie Li, assistant professor in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has been awarded the Haile Family Early Career Professorship in Information Sciences and Technology.  The endowed position, created in 2012 by IST Advisory Board member Don Haile, supports standout faculty members for three years to foster a commitment to teaching, provide funds for emerging research, and offer recognition for their accomplishments.

“It’s a great honor to receive this professorship,” Li said. “Especially since females are still the minority in technology, I’m excited to be an example for my female students, in the hope they can have more confidence in their own future career.”

Li joined IST in 2012 with a doctorate in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Now, my focus is on interdisciplinary research within big data, which fits IST well,” Li said. “In broad terms, my research is focused on mining geospatial data such as human and vehicle mobility traces, urban data, and environmental data.”

Li’s research often has her collaborating across academic fields, including working with criminologists to analyze crime data in relation to other factors like social flow and urban development. She also works alongside geoscientists and meteorologists to analyze water and air quality data to assess the effect of shale gas development on the environment. “IST is unique because we not only value technical research, but also insights that have broader impacts on people and their lives,” she explained.

The endowed position will help the college attract and retain scientists, scholars and educators with the greatest potential to contribute to IST, its students and the world. When Haile pledged the funds for the professorship, he said, “It’s a chance to help younger faculty, who will hopefully be at the University for a long time.”

“The College of IST is proud to be able to award the Haile Family Early Career Professorship,” said Andrew Sears, dean of IST. “This appointment is not only in recognition of Dr. Li's accomplishments to date, but in anticipation of those to come.”

Last Updated February 07, 2017