MSIS students Sangeeta Desai and Erin Gallagher awarded scholarships to attend MER Conference

April 5, 2018

Sangeeta Desai and Erin Gallagher, Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) students at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), have received scholarships to attend the Managing Electronic Records (MER) Conference in Chicago, May 7-9.

Sangeeta Desai and Erin Gallagher

The scholarships, funded by MER sponsor Cohasset Associates, are awarded each year to students from a select set of library and information science schools. Two SILS students have benefitted from the support each year since 2006 when the scholarship program was introduced at SILS by Professor Cal Lee. The scholarships cover the cost of registration and several meals and receptions, and scholarship winners arrive at MER a day early to help run the conference.

Desai, who organized DataRescue Chapel Hill last spring and currently holds a fellowship at the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, said the MER Conference is an opportunity for her to gain more insight into digital preservation from the perspective of professionals in government, corporations, and other large industries, as well as to network with them.

“So far my experience and research in long-term data preservation has focused on standards and best practices, workflows, and related policies,” Desai said. “Through my attendance at the MER conference, I am hoping to expand my understanding of long-term data preservation through learning more about industry-based handling of data and big data in electronic records management systems.”

Gallagher, whose research interests include born-digital archiving, digital preservation, and records management, said she is excited for the opportunity to further understand the issues plaguing electronic records managers and their approaches to dealing with those issues.

“There are not many other platforms dedicated just to the management of electronic records, so this should be a valuable experience wherein we can get a unique look at these issues,” Gallagher said.

Both Desai and Gallagher are in the final year of their programs at SILS. Gallagher said she has greatly enjoyed getting to know the faculty and students.

“My best experiences here at SILS have been meeting so many supportive people in the students, faculty, and professionally,” Gallagher said. “I’m really going to miss them all!”

Desai agreed, speaking highly of the opportunities SILS provided to collaborate with fellow students and learn from dedicated faculty.

“Class projects provided wonderful opportunities to get hands-on training while learning with and from my fellow students,” Desai said. “Whether in class discussions or one-on-one, I have found all of my professors at SILS to be extremely knowledgeable and supportive. The obvious passion for their subject matter is matched in their desire to impart their knowledge and experience to their students… I think I can see now why we have such a strong alumni connection and why we are indeed one of the best programs in the country.”

-Story by Christen Murphy, SILS Communications Assistant