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Info Sci's Cosley Appointed to NSF Post

The National Science Foundation has tapped Cornell Info Sci Associate Professor Dan Cosley to serve as a program director for the federal agency’s Cyber-Human Systems arm of the Division of Information & Intelligent Systems.

Cosley, a professor within Info Sci since 2008, has accepted the appointment, which is expected to last two to three years, and will take leave from Cornell beginning this month to begin his new position in Washington D.C.

As one of four program directors within Cyber-Human Systems, Cosley will manage the review process of NSF grant proposals in areas like social science, collaborative systems and human computer interaction, as well as handle some of the administrative work involved with funded proposals. The position also offers independent research opportunities and in the past has involved participation in science policy discussions, he said.

“I see this as a perfect combination of real chances to have real impact on the world through my part in decision-making,” he said. “It also offers chances to learn a lot more about my field and how NSF works. It will be useful when I come back.”

Research within NSF’s Cyber-Human Systems aims to leverage computing to advance human capabilities via traditional computers, tablets and smartphones, and robots and wearables. As a program director, Cosley will be at the forefront of research in his field.

“Being in a position to talk with people about their grant proposals, I’ll get an extremely good picture of the kinds of research being done around Information Science,” Cosley said. “And, this is a good chance to serve not only the intellectual community but the country.”

Although his base will be in Cyber-Human Systems, Cosley will be expected to work closely with other related NSF programs, like Smart and Connected Health – a proactive, person-centered approach to preventative care – and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

At Cornell, Cosley’s research focus is human-computer interaction and social media, with a particular interest in repurposing existing behavior on social media into new and valuable experiences, or what Cosley calls “social goods”. For example, his SuggestBot recommender system connects Wikipedia contributors with entries of interest that could use improvements. Elsewhere, Cosley’s Pensieve system reminds individual users to reminisce by sending them prompts based on past content they created on social media. A 2009 NSF CAREER grant supported both projects.

Cosley received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree from James Madison University. Prior to joining the Cornell Information Science faculty in 2008, he served as visiting assistant professor within Cornell’s Department of Communication. Cosley has held previous teaching positions at both the University of Minnesota and James Madison University.

Written by Louis DiPietro, communications coordinator for Information Science.