Melanie Feinberg awarded fellowship from Institute of Arts and Humanities

Release date: 

December 18, 2017

UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Associate Professor Melanie Feinberg came to SILS in 2015, hoping to establish relationships with other scholars who share her diverse interests. The interdisciplinary nature of SILS’s faculty has enabled her to do just that.  


Dr. Melanie Feinberg

“We have a faculty and students with a wide variety of interests, but also with a sincere desire to find ways to collaborate and make knowledge together, even though we might have different orientations to scholarship and academia,” she said.

Now, a Faculty Fellowship from the Institute of Arts and Humanities (IAH) is giving Feinberg a chance to expand the scope of her collaborations on campus even further, while also focusing more time on her own research. The highly competitive fellowship will allow Feinberg to take an on-campus leave in the fall of 2018 in order to conduct research for a book that examines creative design judgements in the context of everyday datasets.

“My project explores the complex array of creative design judgements that form the character of everyday datasets,” Feinberg wrote in her proposal. “My book will show how the creation, compilation, and aggregation of data is a form of creative human endeavor.”

Throughout the semester, Feinberg will participate in weekly seminars with other faculty fellows from across campus to discuss their ongoing projects.

A classificationist whose research approach combines design with the humanities, Feinberg’s work focuses on learning how to read and write databases to complement our engineering and mining of them. She earned her PhD from the iSchool at the University of Washington, her master’s from the iSchool at Berkeley, and her undergraduate degree at Stanford. In her professional career before returning to academia, she was a content strategist and technical editor, working at companies such as Apple Computer, Scient, and PeopleSoft.

Feinberg greatly enjoys the diversity of backgrounds and approaches at SILS, and she has successfully connected with faculty members whose research interests align with hers, particularly her office neighbor, SILS Associate Professor Ryan Shaw.

Together with SILS doctoral students, the two started the Organization Research Group (ORG), a research and reading group that meets weekly to discuss interesting research. “It’s a wonderful immersion into a scholarly community,” Feinberg said.

-Story by Christen Murphy, SILS Communications and Marketing Assistant