Dr. Cecilia Aragon to present "A Tale of Two Online Communities...

February 2, 2010

photo of Dr. AragornDr. Cecilia Aragon will be on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Thursday, Feb. 11th to present, "A Tale of Two Online Communities: Fostering Collaboration and Creativity in Scientists and Children."

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the Pleasants Family room of the Wilson Library at 2 p.m.



What are the guidelines for developing social environments to foster group creative work at a distance? In an attempt to answer this question, Aragon conducted empirical studies of two seemingly very different online communities, both requiring effective collaboration and creative work: an international collaboration of astrophysicists studying supernovae to learn more about the expansion rate of the universe, and a group of children, ages 8-15, from different parts of the world, creating and sharing animated stories and video games on the Scratch online community developed at MIT. Both groups produced creative technical work jointly and were considered successful in their communities. Data included the analysis of thousands of lines from chat and comment logs over a period of several months, and interviews with community members. Aragon discovered some surprising commonalities and some intriguing possibilities, and suggested guidelines for successful creative collaborations.

She will discuss the use of information visualization to improve situational awareness in scientific collaborations.

Cecilia Aragon is a computer scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley, California. Her current research focuses on computer-supported cooperative work for scientific collaborations. She studies the development of novel visual interfaces for collaborative exploration of very large scientific data sets, and has published in the areas of human-computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, visual analytics, and image processing. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.S. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology. In 2009, she won the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent careers.

She has received four Best Paper awards in the past five years, and was recently named one of the Top 25 Women of 2009 by Hispanic Business Magazine. She has an interdisciplinary background, including over 15 years of software development experience in industry and NASA, and a three-year stint as the founder and CEO of a small company.