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The Power of Information
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News & Notes: September 2021

Colin Rhinesmith  
Rhinesmith wins Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award

Colin Rhinesmith (PhD '14) is the 2021 recipient of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award. He is an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University. Read more.

Carmi Parker & Claudia Șerbănuță  
iSchool alumni named 2021 Movers & Shakers

Two iSchool alumni are included in Library Journal's 2021 class of Movers & Shakers, an annual list that recognizes 46 professionals who are moving the library field forward as a profession. Carmi Parker (MS/LIS '15) was honored in the Advocates category, and Claudia Șerbănuță (MS/LIS '09, PhD '17) was honored in the Change Agents category. Read more.

Lisa O'Keefe  
Get to know Lisa O’Keefe, chief of staff

For Lisa O'Keefe (MS/LIS ’09), getting a job at Reddit was like "the mothership has truly called me home." She enjoys the variety of her job responsibilities as well as her company's mission to create community and belonging for everyone in the world. Read more.

Rachel Wightman  
Wightman fights spread of misinformation

Outside of her work as associate director for instruction and outreach at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, Rachel Wightman (MS/LIS '09) is teaching church congregations how to spot and stop the spread of misinformation. Read more.

iSchool Virtual Career Fair

The iSchool Virtual Career Fair will take place on September 24 on Handshake. Forty corporate and government employers will be participating, including AT&T, Bayer, Capital One, Caterpillar, Graybar Electric, Kohl’s Corporation, Sandia National Laboratories, United Airlines, Wayfair, and more. Registration begins on September 13. 



With Illinois campaign
iSchool surpasses campaign goal

The iSchool has surpassed its $20 million goal for the “With Illinois” campaign, the Urbana campus’ most ambitious fundraising effort to date. Gifts toward “With Illinois” will continue until June 30, 2022. The School’s priorities for the campaign are to offer an accessible education, enrich the student experience, and provide faculty support. Read more.


Student life

Yosra Abdulwahid  
Meet BS/IS student Yosra Abdulwahid

Yosra Abdulwahid is sharing her enthusiasm for the School through her service as an iSchool ambassador. She has presented to high school students about the BS in information sciences, participated in a student course showcase event, and attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. Read more.

Smirity Kaushik  
Kaushik and Wang receive best paper award

A paper authored by PhD student Smirity Kaushik and Associate Professor Yang Wang received the IAPP SOUPS Privacy Award at the 17th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2021). The symposium brings together researchers and practitioners in human-computer interaction, security, and privacy. Read more.

Megan Okesson  
Get to know MS/LIS student Megan Okesson

When she is not working as a library assistant at Clive (IA) Public Library or taking care of her large family (four boys!), Megan Okesson is pursuing her MS/LIS degree through the iSchool's Leep (online) program. After graduation, she would like to work as a public or academic librarian. Read more.

Jessica Cheng and Lo Lee  
Cheng and Lee receive dissertation fellowships

PhD students Jessica Cheng and Lo Lee have been awarded Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships from the Beta Phi Mu Honor Society. The $3,000 fellowship supports students who are working on their dissertations in library and information science, information studies, informatics, or a related field. Read more.

Spectrum and Kaleidoscope scholars selected

Eight iSchool master's students have been named 2021-2022 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services. In addition, five of the eighteen students selected as 2021-2023 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Kaleidoscope Diversity Scholars are University of Illinois students.

Shadi Rezapour  
Rezapour defends dissertation

Doctoral candidate Shadi Rezapour successfully defended her dissertation, "From User-generated Text to Insight; Context-aware Measurement of Social Impacts and Interactions Using Natural Language Processing," on July 20. Read more.

Emily Zerrenner  
Zerrenner interns with Library of Congress

MS/LIS student Emily Zerrenner recently completed a ten-week internship as a Library of Congress Junior Fellow. This competitive program provides students with the opportunity to explore digital initiatives and increase access to the institution’s collections while working under the direction of library curators and specialists in various divisions. Read more.


Around the School

new student event on Quad  
iSchool welcomes new students

The iSchool welcomed more than 100 new BS/IS students in August. Since last fall, our BS and MS student population has grown by nearly 50 percent, and our international student population has grown by more than 100 percent. Future efforts will focus on increasing students of color who are enrolled in the MS/LIS degree. 

CCB digital exhibit - image from archives  
Digital exhibit celebrates 75 years of the CCB

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the Center for Children's Books (CCB) has published a digital exhibit highlighting defining moments from its past. CCB Director and Professor Sara L. Schwebel worked with a team of graduate assistants to design and publish the multimedia site, which incorporates the sources of several university archives. Read more.

iSchool building  
CIRSS hosts new speaker series

The iSchool's Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) will highlight responsible data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in a special speaker series this fall. Topics to be addressed include explainability, reproducibility, biases, data curation and governance, and privacy. Read more.

Denzel Goodloe  
Goodloe joins iSchool as academic advisor

Denzel Goodloe has joined the iSchool as assistant director for MS/IM and MS/BIO advising. In this role, he provides academic advising for students enrolled in the MS in information management (MS/IM) and MS in bioinformatics programs. Read more.

Deborah Stevenson  
Stevenson retires

Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, retired from the University of Illinois on July 31. She had been with The Bulletin since 1989 and held the position of editor since 2001. From 2010-2019, Stevenson also served as CCB director. Read more.

Melissa Madsen  
Madsen joins the iSchool’s HR team

Melissa Madsen joined the iSchool on August 2 as director of human resources. She comes to the School from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, where she served as the associate director of human resources. Read more.

MT Campbell  
Get to Know: MT Campbell, project coordinator

MT Campbell recently earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute. She looks forward to implementing what she learned "to provide first-rate support to research faculty in managing their grant projects." Read more.


Faculty news

Maria Bonn  
Bonn elected ASIS&T director-at-large

Maria Bonn, associate professor and director of the MS/LIS and CAS programs, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). She will begin her three-year term immediately following the ASIS&T Annual Meeting this fall. Read more.

Sarah Park Dahlen  
Dahlen joins faculty

Sarah Park Dahlen (MS/LIS '09, PhD '09) joined the faculty as an associate professor in August. She previously served as an associate professor of library and information science at St. Catherine University. Her research addresses children's and young adult literature, Asian American youth literature, and transracial Asian adoption. Read more.

Yang Wang and Yun Huang  
New project uses empathy to teach students about cybersecurity, AI ethics

Associate Professor Yang Wang will lead "Teaching High School Students about Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence Ethics via Empathy-Driven Hands-On Projects," a two-year, NSF-funded project that includes Assistant Professor Yun Huang as co-principal investigator. Read more.

Ryan Cordell  
Cordell joins faculty

Ryan Cordell joined the faculty as an associate professor in August. He previously served as an associate professor of English at Northeastern University. His research areas include book history, book arts, print culture, bibliography, digital humanities, text and data mining, machine learning, and critical making. Read more.

Anita Say Chan  
Community Data Clinic receives Broadband READY grant

The Community Data Clinic, led by Associate Professor Anita Say Chan, has received a $50,000 grant to address gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity, and digital literacy skills in East Central Illinois. Read more.

David Dubin and Halil Kilicoglu  
Dubin and Kilicoglu named NCSA Faculty Fellows

Teaching Associate Professor David Dubin and Associate Professor Halil Kilicoglu have been named National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellows for the 2021-22 academic year. Read more.


Class notes


Katie Blakeman (MS '11) has been elected president of the Champaign Public Library Board of Trustees.

André Brock, Jr. (PhD '07) has received the 2021 Nancy Baym Book Award from the Association of Internet Researchers for his book, Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures (NYU Press, 2020).

Brian Conn (MS/LIS '09) was featured by American Libraries in the article, "Serving Those Who Have Served," on June 27, 2021.

Kelly Czarnecki (MS/LIS '02) is the 2021-2022 president of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). She is Teen Loft manager at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jarrett Dapier (MS/LIS '15) has written a children's book called Mr. Watson’s Chickens that is being published by Chronicle Books with a release date of October 5, 2021.

Christine D'Arpa (MS/LIS '06, PhD '17) and Caroline Nappo (MS/LIS '08, PhD '15) copresented "The Chicago Public Library Omnibus Project: Reappraising the Literature of Library Work and the WPA" at the Library History Seminar XIV on June 10, 2021.

Patti Gibbons (MS/LIS '10) coauthored a library science textbook, Exhibits and Displays: A Practical Guide for Librarians, which was released by Rowman & Littlefield in April 2021.

Margaret Heller (MS/LIS '08), digital services librarian at Loyola University Chicago, has been elected as the 2021-22 president-elect of Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Her term began July 1, and she will serve in that role until July 1, 2022, when she will become president of Core.

Sam Helmick (MS/LIS '12), community and access coordinator at the Iowa City (IA) Public Library, has been elected to serve on the ALA Executive Board.

Rebecca Hodson (MS/LIS '13), assistant director of career services at the iSchool, was interviewed by American Libraries for the article, "The Library Employment Landscape."

Heather Jagman (MS/LIS '96) has been elected president-elect of the Illinois Library Association.

Sarah Lindenbaum (MS/LIS '13) published the article, "Memorializing the Everyday: The Evidence of the Final Decade of Frances Wolfreston's Life," in The Seventeenth Century (August 2, 2021).

Jordan Neal (MS/LIS '17) has been elected director-at-large of the Illinois Library Association.

Safiya Noble (MS/LIS '09, PhD '12) has been appointed to the advisory committee for the Center for Research on Equitable and Open Scholarship (CREOS) at MIT Libraries.

Elizabeth Griggs Shuler (MS/LIS '79) retired from Selmaville School in Salem, Illinois, after 34 1/2 years as a librarian and classroom teacher.

Mark Spasser (PhD '98) retired as the online nursing librarian at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a distinguished member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP). In his 25+ year career in health sciences librarianship, he held both administrative positions—some with faculty status—and public service roles.

Laura Leavitt Walesby (MS/LIS '04), head of the business library at Michigan State University, has been named a fellow of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

Lynne M. Thomas (MS/LIS '99) has been selected as a finalist for a 2021 World Fantasy Award in the Special Award–Non-Professional category. She was selected for her work with Uncanny Magazine, alongside her husband, Michael Damian Thomas.

Karen Wells (MS/LIS '80) retired from Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL) Healthcare System on June 30. As the senior director of system library services, she oversaw libraries, staff, and resources for SCL’s eight-hospital health care system. Her honors include the Barbara Dowell Award for excellence in hospital librarianship from the Midcontinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association (2010-2011), Marla Graber Award for excellence and achievement in health sciences librarianship from the Colorado Council of Medical Librarians (2011), and Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for unwavering excellence in her field (2017).

Paul Wheelhouse (MS/LIS '16) is self-employed and the owner of A USA PPP LLC as well as the publisher of five book titles, mainly under the imprint name of Wheel House Publications. His professional archival goal of establishing the All American Archive, under the names of both American Heritage and For the American People, is underway, and he is in the process of legally establishing A USA Preservation Inc. to manage the archives and other preservation work.

Sherry Williams (MS/LIS '19), president and founder of the Bronzeville Historical Society, has received the MOSAIC Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance in the category of Outstanding Community Leader. The award is given to worthy "community, institutional, and civic leaders who have invested in and engaged Chicago’s cultural communities in dynamic ways."

Elizabeth York (MS/LIS '14) has published an article, "Eden in Sin City: Adapting for the Musical Theater Body in Takarazuka Revue's Ocean's 11," in Dance Chronicle.

Visit our class notes page to read more and submit a class note


Upcoming events


Responsible DS + AI Speaker Series: Ryan Baker, University of Pennsylvania
September 10, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Responsible DS + AI Speaker Series: Lindah Kotut, University of Washington
September 17, 9:00-10:00 a.m.

Responsible DS + AI Speaker Series: Pardis Emami-Naeini, University of Washington
September 24, 9:00-10:00 a.m.

Just Infrastructures Speaker Series: Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg
September 29, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Responsible DS + AI Speaker Series: Rainer Böhme, University of Innsbruck
October 1, 9:00-10:00 a.m.

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