Information Science Undergraduates Receive Research Awards

October 19, 2011

Two students in the Bachelor’s in Information Science program at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) have received Honors Undergraduate Research Awards from the Honors Carolina program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Marla Sullivan and Helen Ching have received $300 each to help them perform research and complete an honors thesis. Since both students are in Dr. Diane Kelly’s "Research Methods for Information Science" (INLS 691) course this semester, they both report being pleased that this preparation for doing research has paid off so well.

Marla SullivanMarla Sullivan’s award-winning research proposal is titled, “Building a Memory Palace in the Cloud: Instructional Technologies and the Method of Loci.” Her work combines cutting-edge instructional technologies with the ancient mnemonic device of loci, a technique by which a person visualizes a space in his mind and places objects which represent information the person wants to memorize within the space. Framing the experiment as an online course about the history of information science, Sullivan’s project will draw on instructional technology and cognitive psychology in the hopes of creating a more engaging experience for learners. Sullivan’s advisor is Diane Kelly.


Helen ChingHelen Ching's proposal is titled, "Towards Greater Transparency in Online Privacy Policies" and focuses on answering the question, "Does the format of an online privacy policy affect the user's understanding of its content? She hopes to identify the structural characteristics that make a privacy policy more understandable to Internet users, and study the policies used by commercial vendors who collect and use data for commercial purposes. Her work will build off of previous research on this topic in order to contribute to the present body of knowledge.  The end goal is to design policy layouts that are easily comprehensible through careful testing of different formats. Ching's academic advisor is Paul Jones and her honors thesis advisor is Deborah Barreau.

"Receiving an Honors Thesis Research Grant means a lot to me, and I am grateful for this support of my academic endeavors," said Ching. "I look forward to applying this grant towards my research study which I hope will yield meaningful results that help to improve the way that people interact with technology."

About the BSIS Program

The BSIS curriculum is the only program of its kind in North Carolina and one of only a few nationwide. It is one of the fastest growing fields in the nation.

Information science (IS) combines working with people, designing technology and developing information content. For example, as an IS major, a student might be involved in designing/developing the Web site that reports the scores of the Tar Heel teams. The student would be concerned with the people trying to view the site (True Blue Fans), the technology used to support the site (the Web and perhaps a database behind the site) and the game scores (along with relevant quotes from the players, news items, etc.).

The BSIS program draws on our faculty's strengths in fields like usability, human-computer interaction, open source development, database design, information retrieval and human-information behavior and is designed to prepare graduates for a variety of careers in the information industry. Graduates go into positions of:

• Project Manager

• Corporate Blogger

• Web Master

• Knowledge Management Analyst

• Information Technology Analyst

• Software Quality Engineer

• Risk Management: Vulnerability Analysis, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuation

• Research Assistant

• And many more!

Graduates go on to work at organizations such as Credit Suisse, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Progress Energy, SAS, CISCO, the Department of Homeland Security, Aetna, Lulu Enterprises and the United States Census Bureau, to name just a few.

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 30 fastest-growing occupations from now until 2016 include a number of information science occupations. The field of network systems and data communications is listed as the number one fastest growing occupation in the nation. Occupations like computer software engineers, systems software developers and database administrators are included on the list that require a bachelor's degree are included on the list as well.

Some of the exciting, emerging and growing fields of information science that students may wish to explore include:

• Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

• Open Culture: Open Source Software, Open Access

• Intelligence: market intelligence, business and competitive intelligence

• Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization

• Cyber and Internet Security

• Data Forensics: e-discovery, data recovery

• Scientific Informatics

For more information about the undergraduate program at SILS, click here.