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Celebrating the Last 10 Years and Looking Ahead

Ten years ago the first class of Information Science majors walked across the stage to accept their diplomas. While the department had been around for a few years by this point, that first graduating class, our first group of alumni, marked a turning point. No longer a loose group of faculty with similar interests advising and teaching students - we were now a full-fledged, recognized department with our first graduating class. 

In 2015, we'll be celebrating our 10th Anniversary, marking the accomplishment we realized with our first graduating class and the growth that has happened since. We're also welcoming Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, recently of the Max Planck institute, who returns to Cornell as our newest faculty member. We now have 27 faculty members with an additional 18 faculty from other departments who serve as field members advising our graduate students. We have 35 PhDs at various stages of their graduate studies, a class of 25 MPS students and between 130-140 undergraduate majors between the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, CALS and Engineering. 

In light of our 10th anniversary, we’d like to highlight some of our new team members. We are happy to welcome Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil as our newest faculty member. Cristian was hired as an Assistant Professor starting January 2015, and is teaching INFO 4300 this semester. The course was formerly known as Information Retrieval, but has been re-tooled and re-named, "Language and Information," to reflect Cristian's research in natural language processing and social computing. Cristian accepted the faculty position in Information Science at Cornell because, as he says, it allowed him to return home, to the place where he completed his PhD with Professors Lillian Lee and Jon Kleinberg on his committee. Though Cristian got to work as a Post Doc in CS and Linguistics at Stanford and as an Assistant Professor at the Max Planck Institute, returning to Cornell offered him a valuable opportunity to work directly with many top names in the field with formal and informal collaborations available that were, “unheard of at other institutions." Cristian’s research focuses on the intersections of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and social computing and social networks with projects including an online politeness model that can rate the politeness of an email exchange for example, and analyzing the text of Depression and Suicide Hotline narratives, looking for ways in which counselors are successful in order to help train other hotline workers to achieve better outcomes. 

We were fortunate to have David Mimno, Malte Jung and Mor Naaman join the department in 2013, with David and Malte joining our Ithaca faculty and Mor leading the charge for the Information Science program at Cornell Tech. Malte has taught INFO 6310 Behavior and Technology, INFO 4410 Human Robot Interaction and INFO 1300, the introduction to web design and programming course. Malte is advising several graduate students and researching projects that investigate how technology can support teamwork, looking at various ways that software and even robots can support team dynamics. David has taught INFO 3300 Data Driven Web Applications and INFO 5100 Visual Data Analytics for the Web. His work focuses on machine learning and he is collaborating on projects with several colleagues and grad students related to the topic, including a project on stemming in machine learning (looking at how search databases deal with stems and variations of words), partnering with faculty and students in the Comparative Literature department to see what role algorithms and data can play in their research and another that compares how machines and people learn. For the past year, Mor has been supervising the new Connective Media Masters program at Cornell Tech, teaching and working on research involving social media. Mor has taught INFO 5302 Introduction to Connective Media and INFO 5310 the Psychological and Social Aspects of Connective Media. His research projects include CityBeat, "an algorithmic social media dashboard, and it won first prize at the city-wide NYC Media Lab event in September.” Other projects include a platform connecting the NYC CitiBike program to social media sites and a paper on geocoding social media content, which will be released at WSDM 2015. Deborah Estrin, an Information Science field faculty member at Cornell Tech, oversees the Healthier Life Masters program there. Among other projects, Deborah is working with Tanzeem Choudhury and Geri Gay on an mHealth grant that also includes Weill Medical School as a partner. 

Over the last decade, growth and change have been constants for our department. Considering the work that we do, it makes sense.  Naturally, our programs have changed in response to a growing student body, from the addition of new faculty and staff, to the move to a new building. With the roll-out of a new undergraduate curriculum model this year, Information Science is continuing to respond to the needs of our students and the practices they need to learn in order to be prepared to work in the varied fields that Information Science encompasses. Thanks to all of our faculty, staff, students and alumni for growing and changing with us and we look forward to continuing this journey together!