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We study how people use social media to create social change.

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Libby Hemphill, Ph.D.

Libby (Ph.D., University of Michigan) directed the CaSM Lab. She is an Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan School of Information. From 2010 - 2017 she was a faculty member in the Humanities Department the Illinois Institute of Technology. Libby is broadly interested in computer-mediated communication, social media, digital humanities, and organizational behavior. She maintains an individual website as well.

PhD Students

Xi Rao

Xi (M.S., Illinois Institute of Technology) is a Ph.D. student in Technology and Humanities at Illinois Tech. Xi’s Master’s thesis situates fan study in the broad context of social media. She is interested in collaborative activities on social media, social network analysis, and information visualization. View her personal website.

Andrew Roback

Andrew (M.A., DePaul University) is a Ph.D. candidate in Technical Communication at Illinois Institute of Technology. Andrew’s interests include human behavior on social networking sites, social action in technical communication, social network analysis (SNA), and data visualization. To view his CV, research agenda, and projects, please visit his personal site.

Carol Schmitz

Carol has always been fascinated by people and cultures, especially where they intersect with technology. She is a Computer Science graduate student at Illinois Tech with a B.A. in Anthropology from Boston University. She is interested in using social media to identify patterns in human behavior.

BS Students

Josh Guberman

Josh is an undergaduate research assistant majoring in Psychology and minoring in Information Technology and Management. He’s helping to develop a scale to measure verbal violence in tweets and exploring the utility of Mechanical Turk for scale validation.

Ameena Khan

Ameena is persuing a B.S./M.S. in Computer Sicence at Illinois Tech. She is working to collect and analyze social media data for the Social Media and Civic Engagement projects. She is especially interested in data science and machine learning.


Aron Culotta, Ph.D.

Aron leads the Text Analysis in the Public Interest Lab, which investigates socially-beneficial applications of natural language processing, machine learning, and text mining algorithms.

Jahna Otterbacher, Ph.D.

Jahna is a Lecturer at the Open University Cyprus. She studies language patterns in the artifacts that people use to communicate with one another and is interested in how the properties of communicative artifacts are related to their perceived value by those who read them.

Matthew Shapiro, Ph.D.

Matthew is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Illinois Institute of Technology. He has published several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on public-private collaboration on R & D (research and development) in Northeast Asia. He teaches courses in research methods, public policy, political economy, and Asian politics for the Department of Social Sciences.## Alumni


Charise Angderson

Charise (B.A., DePaul University) earned a Master’s Degree in Technical Communication and Information Design. Charise is interested in a variety of topics including organizational behavior, user experience, the manipulation of perception and biases in communication, identity politics, and multicultural ethics.

Erica Dekker

Erica (B.S., Valparaiso University) earned a Master’s Degree in Technical Communication and Information Design. She served as research assistant to Dr. Jahna Otterbacher, collaborating in research on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and other open contribution systems.

Jing Gao

Jing Gao (M.A., Hunan Normal University, China) earned a Master’s Degree in Technical Communication and Information Design at Illinois Institute of Techology. She is interested in online intercultural communication and now working on a case study of IMDb to investigate if USA and International reviewers write differently.

Aaron Samardzich

Aaron (B.A., DePaul University) earned a Master’s Degree in Technical Communication and Information Design. He worked primarily on the Understanding and Revealing Information Bias project, analyzing user contributions to review sites such as the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Cheng-Hsin Weng

Cheng-Hsin (B.S., National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan) completed his Master’s Degree in Information Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology in December 2011. In the lab, he designed and programmed a framework and scrapers for collecting large amounts of data from online discussion boards. Now he is helping build a database for tweet codes and a Web-based interface for coding raw tweets. To view his resume and portfolio, please visit his personal site.

Xiaopei Zhang

Xiaopei Zhang was a computer science graduate student in Illinois Institute of Technology. She worked on the social media and civic engagement project. She’s especially interested in natural language processing.

Yixuan Zhao

Yixuan (M.S., Illinois Institute of Technology) completed her Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology in May 2015. She worked mainly on the understanding and designing social media for civic engagement project. She was especially interested in data mining and machine learning.

Ruth Zinsmeister

Ruth (B.A., University of Minnesota – Twin Cities) earned a Master’s Degree in Information Architecture in 2012. She worked as a research assistant to Dr. Libby Hemphill and is interested in responsive web design, user experience, and replacing paper systems with well-designed digital alternatives.

Drexler James

Drexler majored in Psychology and Political Science as an undergraduate at IIT. He worked mainly on the Public Officials and Social Media project, helping us make sense of what Congress and Chicago’s Aldermen are doing on Twitter.

Chris King

As an undergraduate at IIT, he worked in the lab during the summer of 2011. Chris was responsible for building a Ruby app that lets us easily manage IMDb data.

Amy Paslak

Amy was an undergraduate majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Psychology. She worked primarily on the Public Officials and Social Media project, exploring the possibilities of auto-coding tweets with MALLET.

Ruoran Wang

Ruoran started in the lab as a third year undergraduate major in Computer Engineering and was a “utility player” in the lab. Ruoran worked on a variety of projects helping us build visualization apps, manage our Amazon Web Services, and automate data collection.

W. David Work

W. David Work was an IIT undergraduate research assistant majoring in Political Science, with a minor in Architecture and specialization in Urban Planning. His contributions to the Public Officials and Social Media project include data collection and tabulation, as well as GIS mapping analysis.