Before I start studying information science, my focus was mainly on computing systems and software engineering including signal processing (e.g., image and sound data processing) and embedded software (i.e., system-level customized software for computing devices). For my Master's thesis, I designed a MapReduce-inspired software framework for swarm robot systems to reduce the complexity of application development while allowing energy-efficient transmissions of robots' sensory data. At that time, I read Swarm Intelligence (Kennedy et al., 2001), and was intrigued by the underlying philosophy of swarm robot systems, which assumed that intelligence was possible only when multiple agents exchanged their different perceptions of information. This raised my intellectual curiosity for people's use and exchange of information that resulted in high intelligence of humans and eventually led me to pursue studies in the field of Information Science. Currently, I am a boundary-spanner in a boundary-spanning institution, aiming to bridge multiple disciplines to solve information problems.
I am an Assistant Professor of Information Science and the Director of Community Informatics Lab (CIL) at GMU. My research interests are in understanding the dynamics of local communities, technology-enabled groups, and information inequality through mixed-method approaches and community-based research. I also design and implement community-based technologies that help make informed decisions.
The podcast episode, 'Is Information Democratized?,' discusses the social implications of my research well. Through research, I aim to contribute to civic engagement, policy-making, community-based research approaches, and information access. The following diagram illustrates my research areas.
Civic technologies such as government information systems play a key role in altering information deserts (i.e., the material pre-condition of information inequality in a local community), which is closely related to socio-economic features and community resilience. By leveraging civic data and social theories, our team of researchers aims to understand (1) the impact of civic technology and community characteristics on the provision of local information (NSF #1816763), (2) public service providers' information management practices and their impact on the larger information ecology and people's information access (VBPD #GMU-3-2023), and (3) potential biases embedded in social service provisioning systems and the bias mitigation strategies in software designing practices (NSF #2217706).
For Students (In Any Majors/Levels)
If you are interested in research projects that focus on (1) data science for social good (broadly defined), (2) community informatics, (3) civic technology analysis and design, and/or (4) information inequality, please send me an email. I believe that diverse experiences and expertise contribute to advancing community-based research. I would be happy to discuss research topics, as well as collaboration or mentorship opportunities. (Please note: This does not necessarily mean I have open positions, but I would love to discuss research ideas with those who are passionate about research).
At GMU, I am affiliated with Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA), Center for Advancing Human-Machine Partnership (CAHMP), the Urban Research Hub, and the Humanities-Centered Design (HCD) group. At UMD, I was a Junior Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI), a semi-formal group in the iSchool; also, I was affiliated with Platial Analysis Lab. In the professional world, I was a Data Science & Technology Fellow at The Center for Open Data Enterprise, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. that advocates for open data movements, where I led the development of the Open Data Impact Map and advised the SDG National Reporting Initiative on data management and technological strategy. Before that, I was a Co-founder and Director of Software Development at Torooc Inc., a VC-funded emotional robot start-up, based in South Korea.