UMSI research expands in scope

By Elizabeth Yakel

The faculty at the School of Information continue to investigate interesting and important research questions that impact people’s lives. Research at UMSI continues to bring together people, information and technology and is highly collaborative with others around the university, across the United States, and internationally.

Elizabeth Yakel

Elizabeth Yakel is associate dean for research and faculty affairs.

This past year, we launched the Large-scale Grant Program to encourage faculty to think big and pursue research grand challenges. UMSI faculty are already participating in many large grants for centers and major projects in other fields. With this new program we hope that more UMSI faculty will take a leadership role and organize large-scale research projects to better leverage UMSI’s strengths.

UMSI faculty are pursuing research in several new areas: health informatics, learning analytics, and information retrieval while maintaining strength in other areas: social media and data science/curation.

For example, Assistant Professor Julia Adler-Milstein’s research examines whether electronic health records improve patient outcomes and how they affect health care costs. Research Professor Stephanie Teasley has developed a real-time early warning system (EWS) at U-M for academic mentors to identify and help students in danger of failing during a semester rather than after grades are distributed.

Professor Paul Resnick and Associate Professor Quaozhu Mei are continuing to refine their research on search which won them the TREC microblog retrieval competition in December 2013. Their project, “ReQ-ReC: High Recall Retrieval with Query Pooling and Interactive Classification,” uses different mechanisms to enhance both recall and precision during search.

Associate Professors Nicole Ellison and Cliff Lampe share a number of social media research projects including “The Role of Social Networking Sites in Facilitating Collaborative Processes.” While we usually think about social networking sites, such as Facebook, as “social,” Ellison and Lampe are finding that people are also using social media to support collaborations. Their research identifies how, when and why these collaborations occur and when they are most effective.

Using the MCubed process as a research site, Associate Professor Carl Lagoze is studying interdisciplinary research collaborations using large-scale data to better understand how investigators negotiate across disciplinary boundaries to answer research questions that no one field could address alone.

Finally, Professor Margaret Hedstrom’s Sustainable Environment Actionable Data project continues to prosper and the system is now actively recruiting data from a diverse group of sustainability researchers.

These are just some of the interesting research projects in which UMSI faculty are engaged. Looking forward to the year ahead, I anticipate more exciting research by faculty and more diverse research which you will read about throughout the year in UMSI Monthly.

In closing, I just want to say a few words of thanks to Professor Doug Van Houweling, who was my predecessor in this position. I am happy to be following Doug because he left the Office of Research Administration in great shape. I want to personally thank him for his service and acknowledge his excellent leadership of the office.

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