New faculty join College of IST as enrollment continues to grow

August 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Eleven new faculty will the College of Information Sciences and Technology to start the 2019-20 academic year.

The new faculty join 12 others hired last year to support the college’s rapidly-growing student body, which will once again comprise a record number of incoming undergraduate students this fall. The addition of a bachelor’s degree program in human-centered design and development, in addition to degrees in data sciences and cybersecurity analytics and operations in the last three years, has drawn an influx of students seeking careers in these emerging fields.

“The scope of experience that these individuals bring to the college will greatly enhance IST’s programs and the experiences we are able to provide to our students,” said Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST. “Their broad expertise will strengthen the college’s long-standing degree programs while also contributing the foundation of our newest majors.”

The new faculty members are:

Mahir Akgun, assistant teaching professor, has been teaching in the College of IST, both at University Park and through Penn State World Campus, as an adjunct professor since 2015. He also has worked as an IT support specialist for Penn State Information Technology Services before serving as a digital scholarship graduate assistant for University Libraries. Akgun’s research interests include learning analytics and search as learning. He aims to understand how search tools influence learning in the classroom and how learning occurs in the search process. Akgun holds a doctoral degree in learning, design and technology from Penn State.

Syed Billah, assistant professor, recently earned his doctorate from the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University. His primary research interests are at the intersection of human-computer interaction, accessible computing and computer systems. The overarching goal of his research is to make computer accessibility ubiquitous, frictionless and efficient for people with disabilities, particularly for people with vision impairments. To that end, he builds interactive systems, designs intelligent interaction techniques, and works on improving the core accessibility supports in modern operating systems.

Patrick Dudas, assistant teaching professor, has most recently worked as a data visualization software engineer at Penn State, supporting the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Institute for CyberScience and Eberly College of Science. A career researcher, he developed a real-time dynamic Twitter visualization platform for the Naval Postgraduate School, and has taught courses at various universities including Penn State, the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh.

Xinning Gui, assistant professor, recently earned her doctorate from the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Her research lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, and health informatics. She aims to understand individual healthcare consumers’ interaction with the health care system and explore design solutions for better service and patient engagement.

Yubo Kou, assistant professor, previously served as an assistant professor in the School of Information at the Florida State University. His research interests include human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, social computing, game research and design research. He studies how people explain, appropriate and manage complex sociotechnical systems. He earned his doctoral degree from the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine.

Fenglong Ma, assistant professor, recently received his doctoral degree from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research interests include data mining and machine learning using big data, with an emphasis on health-related data.

William Parquette, assistant teaching professor, has most recently worked as chairman of the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee of the National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He served as a full-time faculty member at the National Intelligence University for 13 years. He served 22 years in the United States Army and 18 Years with the U.S. Intelligence Community. He earned master’s degrees from Loyola University and Webster University.

Joanne Peca, assistant teaching professor, comes to University Park from Penn State Altoona, where she served as chief information officer since 2010. She also was an affiliate faculty member in the College of IST at University Park. She has worked in the IT field for more than 20 years, in both hands-on and leadership roles. She earned a doctorate degree from Northeastern University.

Kevin Sylvester, lecturer, has served as an adjunct instructor in the College of IST since 2016. He has taught, tutored and guided students at various levels, from 6th graders to adult learners. He earned his master’s degree from Duquesne University.

Chun-Hua Tsai, research assistant professor, recently earned his doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as a research assistant in the Personalized Adaptive Web Systems (PAWS) Lab. His research interests include data science and human-computer interaction, especially in social network analysis, social recommender systems and intelligent user interfaces.

Ting Wang, assistant professor, previously served as an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Lehigh University. His research focuses on developing rigorous and practical solutions to improve the predictive capability, privacy preservation and security assurance of data-driven systems. He earned his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Last Updated August 22, 2019