Information Science is a broad discipline, and our students come from a range of backgrounds. Some have computer science degrees, and come prepared to take on information science with a toolkit of computational and data science methods. Some have little to no experience in computing, but have backgrounds in social science or qualitative research. Some come to us with a rich knowledge of domains (e.g., public health, education, or journalism) to which information science research and techniques can be applied. Some come straight out of undergraduate programs, others have already completed graduate degrees, and others have years of professional experience.
Our program is designed to help Ph.D. students tailor their education towards their own research interests and skill sets while developing a shared body of knowledge around methods, computational techniques, theoretical frameworks, and design practices.
Student Voices: Why CU?
"My experience at CU Boulder's information science department has been one of a kind. Not only are the faculty knowledgeable and supportive, they work hard to help the graduate students have a strong professional network. My experience at CU is truly incredible."
"As an international student, my first year was really challenging because of language and culture barriers. My professors encouraged me a lot, which gave me confidence in my research. And other Info students were always happy to answer questions about research and life in Boulder."
"I joined the Visualab to work with Dr. Szafir because I get to exercise my technical muscles (building fun and interactive visualization systems) while at the same time thinking creatively about visualization design and how we can make a positive impact for people in the real world."
Research a mile above ordinary.
You can find out more about the research interests of both our faculty and current PhD students on their profile pages. Examples of research groups led by our faculty include the VisuaLab, the Too Much Information (TMI) Lab, the Philanthropic Informatics Lab, the Creative Communities Group, That Recommender Systems Lab, and the Internet Rules Lab (IRL).
High Impact Publications
Within the first few years of our PhD program, our students have published and presented work in venues such as CHI (human-computer interaction), VIS (information visualization), AAAI (artificial intelligence), CSCW (collaboration & social computing), NAACL (computational linguistics), Ubicomp (ubiquitous computing), AOIR (internet research), and SIGCSE (computer science education).
Recent Student Publications
Funded Research Projects
Across our department, there are many research projects happening at any given point, covering a wide range of domains and methods. Examples of funded projects in our department include research involving building computational tools to help scale qualitative data analysis, computer-mediated communication during crisis, organizational behavior in e-sports teams, research ethics for social computing, real-world machine learning, fairness-aware recommender systems, and humanizing algorithms.
Members of our faculty sometimes seek PhD prospective students with an interest in specific funded projects. Though applicants with any research interest are encouraged, here are a few targeted recruitment calls:
Dr. Laura Devendorf is seeking PhD students who are interested in exploring the speculative technologies at the intersection of art, design and feminist technoscience. Much of the work in the Unstable Design Lab lab is exploring these themes through a focus on designing, crafting, and creating novel body worn smart textile applications. We have developing partnerships in support of these research efforts with the National Science Foundation, Center for Craft and faculty across colleges of Media Communication and Information and Engineering and Applied Science. We are particularly interested in recruiting students with strong creative practices and physical computing experience. For more information, please see our lab website at http://unstable.design.
Drs. Amy Voida and Robin Burke are recruiting a Ph.D. student to carry out research exploring the many different ways that algorithmic fairness is understood in the real-world, mission-driven context of nonprofit organizations. The student will carry out qualitative research to inform the design of new algorithms for recommendation systems. This unique position brings the methods and concerns of human-computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, and philanthropic studies to the domain of machine learning. Candidates with diverse disciplinary backgrounds (including non-technical backgrounds) are encouraged to apply. Because of the wonderful interdisciplinary ethos at CU, the student will be able to enroll through any of three degree programs: Information Science, Computer Science, or the ATLAS Institute’s Technology, Media & Society program. For more information please reach out to Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jed Brubaker is looking to take on new PhD students who are interested in studying the intersections of technology, death, dying, and grief. The Identity Lab is spinning up a number of new initiatives that will benefit from the contributions of students interested in designing ways to make death kinder for those passing, as well as those they leave behind. Student looking to develop their skills in community- and family-based research, design, and/or ethnography are especially encouraged to reach out. For more information, see this post.
Dr. Robin Burke is recruiting a PhD student in the area of machine learning fairness and personalized recommender systems. The project aims to address issues that make it challenging to apply fairness-aware recommendation in practice. In particular, we are looking beyond the current practice of considering only a single dimension of fairness, as real applications require a more nuanced, intersectional, and multisided understanding. In addition, we are exploring the generation of effective explanations for fairness-aware recommendation as it is well-understood that user acceptance of recommendations often hinges on the ability of the system to explain its results. See more information about this project at http://www.that-recsys-lab.net/home/projects/farsite.
Dr. Ricarose Roque is recruiting PhD students to explore the joint engagement and learning of families and educators participating in making and tinkering spaces in informal learning organizations such as libraries and museums. Making and tinkering spaces have a mix of craft, traditional, and emerging computational tools and activities that engage people in project-based, interest- driven, and peer-supported learning experiences. These spaces have emerged and spread widely across informal learning organizations such as museums, libraries, and community centers. Researchers and educators have documented how making and tinkering spaces can support diverse learners to engage in STEM-rich learning opportunities. The Creative Communities research group is looking for PhD students to contribute to the design and implementation of projects like Family Creative Learning program, an internationally recognized program that engages families in creative computing, as well as qualitative studies of families' and educators' joint engagement in these learning environments. We welcome candidates who are interested in community-based research, youth and family learning, especially families from underrepresented groups, equity and inclusion in learning environments, and the possibilities of learning with creative technologies. Go to this post for more information.
Dr. Stephen Voida is seeking PhD students who interested in exploring the design of technologies for supporting individuals are managing stress, burnout, and serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. The Too Much Information research lab is developing partnerships in support of these research efforts with the CU Boulder Institute of Cognitive Science, the CU Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the BRITE Center at the University of Washington. We are particularly interested in recruiting students with an interest in human-centered software engineering research in support of these initiatives. For more information, please see our lab website at https://tmilab.colorado.edu.
Student Voices: Industry Research Internships
Jordan Wirfs-Brock (Yahoo!)
"During my internship with Yahoo, I got intense hands-on experience with many research methods that I wouldn't have necessarily had the chance to use during the academic year. Experiencing research at the pace of industry expanded my understanding of how to scope my own projects."
Matt Whitlock (Autodesk)
"I think it is important to intern as a PhD student for the opportunity to see research through a different lens--one where emerging technology isn't just a frontier to be explored, but also something that fits into forward-facing business plans."
Aaron Jiang (Facebook)
"My research internship at Facebook really let me see what it’s like to do industry research and work on projects that can impact billions of people and has led to ongoing collaborations. My understanding of industry research from the internship will also help me with industry job interviews."