Kaitlin Costello, SILS doctoral student, wins 2013 Thomson Reuters Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award

September 17, 2013

Kaitlin CostelloKaitlin Costello, doctoral student at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been selected for the 2013 Thomson Reuters Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award. Awarded annually by the American Society of Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) to “foster research in information science by encouraging and assisting doctoral students in the field with their dissertation research,” the scholarship consists of $1,500 donated by the Institute for Scientific Information. Additionally, Thomson Reuters furnishes a $500 travel grant to enable the student to attend the ASIS&T annual meeting. This year’s meeting will be held from November 1-6, 2013 in Montreal, Canada.

“I am honored to be recognized with this award, and I look forward to presenting some of my dissertation research at the upcoming ASIS&T meeting,” said Costello. “I will also be presenting a poster on a study I did last year investigating how people use the Internet to find altruistic kidney donors, and I am looking forward to the feedback I'll receive at the annual meeting on both of these projects.”

Costello’s proposal is titled “Investigating information seeking and disclosure in online support groups for chronic kidney disease.” Currently conducting interviews, she is investigating information seeking and personal health information disclosure in online support groups for chronic kidney disease using a grounded theory approach.  She said she is also looking at what participants of the study post online about their kidney disease.

“Our understanding of how and why people seek and share health information online is currently limited, particularly when the disease in question is a chronic, life-long condition,” said Costello. “My dissertation research will result in a model or theory exploring, describing and potentially linking the phenomena of health information seeking, disclosure and social support.”

Costello says that the connections offered through her contacts at SILS have been instrumental in her dissertation research.

“I am proud to be a member of such a vibrant community full of skilled, knowledgeable researchers,” she said. “I can't tell you how many people I have called on at all hours of the night when I had a question or problem with my work that I needed to talk out! The resources provided by SILS are wonderful, and I consider myself lucky to be a doctoral student in this program.”

Costello is the latest in a proud tradition of people associated with SILS winning the Thomson Reuters Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award.  SILS alumni Amber Cushing (Ph.D. ’12) and Meng Yang (Ph.D. ‘05) won the award in 2011 and 2004, respectively. Other noted SILS recipients include faculty members Drs. Stephanie W. Haas, professor, who received the award in 1988 and Barbara Wildemuth, associate dean for Academic Affairs, who won the award in 1987 and former faculty member Diane H. Sonnewald who received the award in 1991.