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During emergency situations like severe weather or terrorist attacks, local officials and first responders have an urgent need for accessible, reliable and real-time data. Rob Grace, a doctoral student in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), and his colleagues at the Center for Crisis, Community, and Civic (3C) Informatics are working to address this need by introducing a new method for identifying local social media users and collecting the information they post during emergencies.

Researchers in the 3C Informatics lab, led by Andrea Tapia, associate professor of IST, and Jess Kropczynski, lecturer in IST, are exploring how social media can be leveraged in these emergency situations. In addition to Grace, the research team includes IST doctoral students Scott Pezanowski, Shane Halse and Prasanna Umar.

Bertha Castaneda
Courtesy of Bertha Castaneda


Bertha Castaneda said she sees herself as spontaneous and adventurous.

So, when she decided to submit an application to compete in the 2018 Miss PA USA pageant competition, she had no idea the contest committee would choose her.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” she said with a laugh.

Image: Xiao Liu


Dinghao Wu, associate professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has been awarded the PNC Technologies Career Development Professorship. This three-year appointment recognizes esteemed faculty members with discretionary funding that can be used to support his or her research, instruction, educational activities and associated travel.

“It’s a great honor for me to receive the PNC Technologies Career Development Professorship,” Wu said. “It gives me freedom to explore and develop some new innovations on research and teaching.”

Image: Penn State


For the ninth year in a row, Penn State’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCI) has released a mobile app to complement the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, being held July 13-16 in State College. Through the app, visitors will not only be able to virtually navigate the vendors and attractions, but also take advantage of features to share memories of past Arts Festivals and favorite places from this year’s festival.

Jack Carroll, distinguished professor of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), and his CHCI team created the app to allow festival-goers to check in on artist locations and event schedules through their smartphones. While the app retains its core functions, the team introduces a new feature every year.

Image: Penn State


As technology touches every corner of the world, it’s integral to understand its profound ability to enhance and affect people’s everyday lives, especially in developing nations. That goal is why student researchers from Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) are headed to Rwanda on three distinct missions to discover how technology is used and implemented.

Carleen Maitland, associate professor of IST, is the adviser to three students traveling to Rwanda this summer: Eric Obeysekare, Katelyn Sullivan and Ying Xu. Maitland’s extensive research into humanitarian efforts aided by information technology, including studying Syrian refugees in a Jordanian camp, provides the foundation for the students’ work.

Image: Penn State


Steve Garguilo, a 2009 graduate of the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is traveling the world, looking for new ways to innovate and transform old methods and ideas. “IST set me up to think about how to solve big, real-world problems,” he said.

His globetrotting career has already taken him to Switzerland, India, and now to the Mexican city of Juárez. But even as he explores the world, he is never away from Penn State for too long.

Image: Penn State


This summer, Rich Caneba will leave behind some modern conveniences – and a steadfast digital connection to the outside world – to conduct research in some of the most remote areas in Southern California.

Caneba, a doctoral student in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is spending his summer conducting field work and embedded research on the Pala Band of Mission Indians reservation, a 12,273-acre swath of land north of San Diego. There, he is utilizing his diverse expertise to bridge the gap between technology and social issues that have plagued native populations who live in rural reservations throughout the country, specifically the almost 1,000 members of the Pala tribe who inhabit the reservation.

Image: Penn State


Luke Gleba is on the fast track to graduation, and because of his hard work and dedication, he’s about to get some help from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Gleba, a third-year senior majoring in security and risk analysis (SRA) with a focus in information and cybersecurity, was recently awarded the DoD’s Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service. The SMART scholarship is offered by the DoD to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines, and aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working in DoD laboratories.

Image: Heather Myers


When Heather Myers registered for a data visualization course this past spring, she anticipated learning techniques and tools to depict large amounts of data. Little did she know she would receive global recognition from Tableau, a leader in business intelligence and analytics software.

A web administrator for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) in Harrisburg, Myers decided to enroll in Penn State’s online Master of Professional Studies in Data Analytics program to further her technical acumen.

Image: NOAA


Every year, severe weather endangers millions of people and causes billions of dollars in damage worldwide. But new research from Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and AccuWeather has found a way to better predict some of these threats by harnessing the power of big data.

The research team, led by doctoral student Mohammad Mahdi Kamani and including IST professor James Wang, doctoral student Farshid Farhat, and AccuWeather forensic meteorologist Stephen Wistar, has developed a new approach for identifying bow echoes in radar images, a phenomenon associated with fierce and violent winds.