On the Bridge - October 2021

October 12, 2021

A compilation of recent news, highlights and achievements from the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) community.

Kumar shares expertise in children’s privacy literacy and effects of kids’ app use

Priya Kumar, assistant professor of IST who joined the college this year, has been broadly sharing her expertise and research portfolio. Last month, she gave two presentations at the third annual Symposium on the Applications of Contextual Integrity: one on "Analyzing Transmission Principles in Qualitative Applications of Contextual Integrity" and one on "Strengthening Children’s Privacy Literacy through Contextual Integrity." Kumar’s work, which examines how certain kinds of technology use come to be treated as problematic, particularly in the context of childhood and parenting. She frequently authors and is cited in media articles for her work, including writing this Real Life magazine essay about the limitations of the metaphor “digital footprint,” and weighing in on the negative effects of children’s social media apps, such as Facebook Messenger Kids, for The New York Times.

Mitra shares expertise to aid Colombian peace process

This past summer, professor Prasenjit Mitra spent more than two weeks leading workshops at Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogata, Colombia. His efforts could potentially help combat online misinformation that could threaten the country’s peace process that began at the culmination of a decades-long conflict that has stemmed from economic, political and social factors in the country.  

Through the Fulbright Specialist Program, Mitra introduced experts in the university’s communications and language department to technologies that could be used to automatically detect online misinformation. Online misinformation and disinformation campaigns have fueled political polarization in the country and threaten the peace deal that ended more than 50 years of war.

Mitra shared his expertise in a number of areas, such as algorithms, natural language processing, information extraction, sentiment detection and social media.

“I was able to work with the top researchers at one of the top Colombian universities who are working on understanding communication in social media to understand and appreciate the state-of-the art technology that exists, its limitations and quirks, and its potential for misuse,” said Mitra. “Once they understand that and adopt that, perhaps they can then build or lobby for systems that can be used to control misinformation and disinformation.”

Faculty member, former Microsoft Researcher discusses FLAML integration in new blog

Qingyun Wu, assistant professor of IST, recently joined the college from Microsoft Research, where she co-developed FLAML (Fast and Lightweight AutoML). FLAML is a lightweight Python library powered by a new, cost-effective hyperparameter optimization and learner selection method that finds accurate machine learning models automatically, efficiently and economically.

In this recent blog post, Wu and her co-authors discuss FLAML’s integration with Ray Tune, utilizing its distributed hyperparameter tuning to scale up FLAML’s optimization algorithms.

Gamrat offers inclusive practice tips for teaching assistants

Chris Gamrat, instructional designer at IST, published an article in EDUCAUSE Review that offers tips and recommendations that teaching assistants can use to help create learning environments that welcome all learners. The article, “Fostering Inclusive Practices among Teaching Assistants,” is a companion document to an earlier article Gamrat authored outlining similar strategies aimed at helping faculty and instructional designers.

IST rapid stroke diagnosis tool cited among innovative apps for improved health outcomes 

James Wang, professor, discusses his work to develop a smartphone application that can identify when a patient is having a stroke in this Prime Time Living article (see page 4) in The Baltimore Sun about AI's impact on health care.

New appointments at IST

Congratulations to the following IST faculty members who have been appointed to new roles at the college:

  • David Fusco, associate teaching professor, has been named director of experiential learning. In this new role at the college, Fusco will work to enhance student experiential opportunities, including increasing company engagement, leveraging real-world problems in class projects, engaging industry speakers, and providing students more opportunities to network with companies outside of internships or class-based projects.
  • Edward Glantz, teaching professor, has filled the position of director of master’s programs.
  • Vasant Honavar, professor, has been named the Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Biomedical Data Sciences and Artificial Intelligence by the University’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.
  • Dongwon Lee, professor, has assumed the role of director of doctoral programs.
  • Andrea Tapia, professor, has been named associate dean for research. In her role, Tapia will support initiatives across the college’s four primary research areas.

“On the Bridge” highlights accomplishments by faculty, staff, students and alumni of the College of Information Sciences and Technology. Share your news with us and the IST community by emailing webmarcom@ist.psu.edu.

Last Updated October 15, 2021