Texas iSchool Welcomes New Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information TechnologySandlin, Anu  | Jul 27, 2019
The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce that Dr. Ying Ding will be joining the iSchool faculty this fall as the Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology.
Currently a Professor of Informatics and Information Science at Indiana University in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Ding also serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the Data Science Program at IU.
In addition to being Professor of Informatics and core faculty of Cognitive Science, Ding is also Director of the Web Science Lab, faculty member of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, and faculty member of the Chemical Informatics Center. Previously, she worked as a senior researcher at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and as a researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Her research interests include data science for applications, data-driven science of science, bibliometrics, semantic web, data-driven knowledge discovery, AI powered drug discovery, and knowledge graph and mining. Her research areas encompass complex systems, artificial intelligence, biomedical and health data science, data analytics for graphs, and database and information systems.
She has taught courses in Semantic Web (e.g., Data Semantics), Database (e.g., SQL and NoSQL, Database Design), Data Science Onramp Courses (e.g., mini-online courses about data science skills), Introduction to Doctoral Research in Information Science, Evaluation of Information System, Information Analytics, and Metadata & Semantics.
Ding has been involved in various NIH, NSF, and European Union-funded Semantic Web projects, and has published 190+ papers in journals, conferences, and workshops. She is co-editor of the book series called, Semantic Web Synthesis published by Morgan & Claypool, and co-author of the book, "Intelligent Information Integration in B2B Electronic Commerce,” published by Kluwer Academic Publishers.
My goal is to create an innovative research agenda for AI in medicine and healthcare by building bridges to connect talents from schools on campus.
In addition, Ding is co-author of two book chapters in "Spinning the Semantic Web," published by MIT Press, and the book, "Towards the Semantic Web: Ontology-driven Knowledge Management," published by Wiley. She is an editorial board member of four ISI-indexed top journals in Information Science and Semantic Web.
“Professor Ding has assembled a world-leading academic record in her career, and will be an excellent addition to the iSchool,” noted Dean Eric T. Meyer. “We look forward to her taking a leading role in our growing research and teaching in the area of health informatics and bringing in new collaborations and sources of funding.”
Dr. Ding will also have a courtesy appointment with the Department of Population Health at Dell Medical School.
As Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology, Ding plans to build one of the best AI in medicine and healthcare programs by inviting top players to invited talk series, engaging iSchool students and faculty with local industry experts in healthcare-related projects, and organizing summer camps by connecting best mentors and talents to solve urgent local health issues.
“My goal is to create an innovative research agenda for AI in medicine and healthcare by building bridges to connect talents from schools on campus, such as Texas iSchool, Dell Medical School, Department of Computer Science, College of Pharmacy, Department of Statistics and Data Science, the local industry, and startups” said Ding.
“I look forward to joining the iSchool at UT Austin and working with colleagues to extend the current curriculum by adding applied data science courses based on my experience as the Director of Graduate Studies of Data Science Program, and previously the Associate Director for Data Science Online Program at Indiana University,” said Ding. “It will be an exciting journey and I am ready for it.”
Ding has served as Changjiang Guest Professor at the School of Information Management, Wuhan University, China; Elsevier Guest Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai; and Senior Researcher, Fudan University, Shanghai.
Ding received her Ph.D. from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in 2001. She is co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Data2Discovery and volunteer co-organizer at Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Festival. To learn more about Dr. Ying Ding, visit her website.
Art Exhibit Adds Representation and Visibility for Underrepresented IdentitiesSandlin, Anu  | Jun 30, 2019
Last weekend, an East Austin warehouse featured the “Fully Free: Identity Expression” Art Exhibit, an exhibit highlighting people’s experiences with identity expression.
Spearheaded by Fully Free Art Collective, the exhibit brought visibility to an array of social identities, adding more diverse representation to the mainstream image of identity, and highlighting the many aspects of society that do not allow people of specific social identities to present as their full selves.
The project shed light on the parts of social identity that people feel they must mask to maintain respect, relationships, and physical and emotional safety, with the goal of bringing more representation and visibility to identities often not included in mainstream narratives.
Each project participant had two photos taken. The first photo portrayed how they present when they have to mask parts of their identity, and the second photo displayed how they present when they feel fully free to be themselves. In addition, each participant wrote a short narrative about their experience with identity expression and safety.
The Fully Free: Identity Expression exhibit also highlighted deep dives into a few of the participants’ lives and mixed-media art which included lighting and textured spaces in the warehouse (mirrors, creative light installations, and yarn installations) to strategically showcase identity and interconnectedness.
Founder of Fully Free Art Collective and iSchool student Hali Hoyt explained that the Fully Free: Identity Expression project was a result of their own experience with identity expression. As someone who identifies as part of the queer community and as genderqueer, Hoyt could relate to the challenges and exhaustion associated with having to engage in identity masking to navigate spaces safely. “I knew that if I was experiencing this, others must be, too,” they said.
We hope to continue to fulfil our goal of greater visibility and representation of marginalized identities –which we believe leads to greater acceptance, inclusion, and equity.
In addition to the exhibit, a special coffee table book was made featuring the portraits and narratives of the Austin-based community members. The book deep dives into the participants’ lives and provides storytelling resources that can help others put together their own narrative. “We felt that these stories and photographs should be accessible in a diverse set of mediums to reach the most people,” explained Hoyt. “A coffee table book could spark more conversation within personal spaces such as homes and community centers.”
The book documenting the Fully Free: Identity Expression art project was funded in part by the University of Texas School of Information through the John P. and Alice M. Commons Excellence Fund. It was showcased during the exhibit and offered for sale. Hoyt noted that it was the sole reason they were able to showcase the issues faced with identity expression at that moment in time in Austin, Texas. “Our book wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Eric T. Meyer, Dean of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin,” they said. His commitment to representation and visibility of diverse people, and their experiences, creates a more inclusive and socially just future for us all.”
In response to the Fully Free project, Dean Eric T. Meyer stated, “this is the sort of project I am delighted to support: student-led, creative, and focused on contributing to a more inclusive and diverse world. It really highlights the ways that information can unlock hidden stories and diversity.”
Saturday, June 22, 2019 proved to be a memorable day for the Fully Free: Identity Expression project and its members. It was Fully Free Art Collective’s (@fullyfreecollective) first exhibit, and it was so well attended that people had to be turned away due to the venue reaching maximum capacity.
Hoyt expressed gratitude for the Texas iSchool’s support and involvement. “I am grateful for everyone who came together to make this event happen,” they said. MSIS student Andrea Gutierrez worked with participants to write an engaging narrative, Assistant Professor Amelia Acker advised the organization on ethical community engagement practices related to acquiring and distributing sensitive information, and Adjunct faculty member Walker Riley helped measure and cut the mirrors for the DJ booth.
Hoyt (@halihoyt) said they have plans to sustain the collective. “Because the gallery exhibit and book were both so successful, we will build off our momentum to either expand the Identity Expression project or create a new one,” they said. “Either way, we hope to continue to fulfil our goal of greater visibility and representation of marginalized identities –which we believe leads to greater acceptance, inclusion, and equity.”
Professor Bo Xie Named Recipient of FIC Instructor Learning Community GrantSandlin, Anu  | Jun 26, 2019
The month of May proved to be a celebratory month for The University of Texas School of Information Professor Bo Xie. In addition to receiving the 2019 AiTC Innovative Programs Building Partnerships Award, Dr. Xie was also awarded a Faculty Innovation Center (FIC) Instructor Learning Community (ILC) Grant for the 2019 to 2020 cycle.
As campuses continue to embrace diversity, it is critically important that classrooms become more inclusive environments to ensure that everyone is offered fair educational opportunities.
Instructor Learning Community (ILC) Grants are intended to support in-depth discussions and problem solving around key issues in teaching in classrooms, clinics, studios, or labs. This year (2019 - 2020), grants will be used to build instructor capacity for supporting an inclusive classroom climate.
Xie’s fully funded ILC project, titled, “Cultivating inclusive classrooms in the Schools of Nursing and Information,” involves organizing monthly discussions where instructors work together to develop learning communities that can foster and support inclusive classrooms.
By bringing together instructors from both the School of Nursing and iSchool, we are more likely to identify common challenges – and become more aware of unique challenges others might be facing.
The FIC Instructor Learning Community Grant will help to raise awareness about the many facets of diversity and inclusion, and especially less visible ones such as gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and ability.
In reflecting on this FIC Grant, Xie commented, “By bringing together instructors from both the School of Nursing and iSchool, we are more likely to identify common challenges – and become more aware of unique challenges others might be facing.”
A Professor with joint appointments at UT’s School of Nursing and School of Information, Xie has always been interested in making learning more inclusive, more diverse, and more resilient, as evidenced in her decade-long dedication to the development of her research program, Electronic Health Information for Lifelong Learners (eHiLL).
In addition to Xie, seven other Instructor Learning Community grants were awarded across campus. Funds of up to $2,500 were awarded for projects that assemble small groups of instructors to discuss and learn together about inclusive teaching practices.
Learning communities will gather a minimum of three times over the fall 2019 semester to discuss, compare notes, and learn –from each other and invited experts on diversity and inclusion— about critical best practices for ensuring inclusive classrooms.
“What we learn from these discussions will be summarized and shared within the UT community, and with broader audiences beyond UT,” explained Xie. “Raising awareness is a critical first step.”