Social and Organizational Informatics

Social and Organizational Informatics (SOI) is a confederation of faculty and graduate students aimed at studying the ways in which social, cultural, political, economic, and organizational structures impact and are impacted by information technologies. We are a highly interdisciplinary team drawing from several academic fields, such as information science, business, philosophy, social sciences, planning, development studies, and sociology, to answer our questions.

Our research begins with the needs of people and communities. We seek to understand and potentially solve socio-technical problems. People lead our research, not technological opportunities. Our research is critical. Technologies advantage and disadvantage populations. Our research seeks to affect change. Our research begins with the assumption that technologies are not neutral tools. They are political, have unintended consequences, and carry embedded values. SOI develops both scientific understanding and practical tools to help communities and institutions.

Research-Active Faculty
Photo of Mahir Akgun

Assistant Teaching Professor

Learning Analytics; Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL); Epistemic Agency

Photo of Guoray Cai

Associate Professor

Geographical information science; Visual analytics; Online democracy and deliberation

Photo of Kelley Cotter

Assistant Professor

Critical Algorithm Studies; Critical Data Studies; Digital Literacy

Photo of Fred Fonseca

Associate Professor

Data Science; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Technology

Photo of David Fusco

Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Master's Programs

Photo of Chris Gamrat

Assistant Teaching Professor

Photo of Nicklaus Giacobe

Associate Teaching Professor

Cybersecurity Education; Cybersecurity; Situation Awareness

Photo of Edward J. Glantz

Teaching Professor and Assistant Director of Master's Programs

Cybersecurity; Risk Analysis; Risk Identification

Photo of Sharon Huang

Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

Biomedical Image Data Analysis; Computer Vision; Machine Learning

Photo of Johnson Kinyua

Associate Teaching Professor

Cybersecurity; Data Science (FinTech); Building Secure Software Systems

Photo of Priya Kumar

Assistant Professor

Privacy and agency; Digital childhood/parenting; Datafication/data power

Photo of Cindy Lin

Assistant Professor

Feminist Science and Technology Studies; Critical Data Studies; Postcolonial Studies

Photo of Peng Liu

Raymond G. Tronzo, MD Professor of Cybersecurity

Computer Security; Building Secure Software Systems; Secure Internet of Things

Photo of Carleen Maitland

Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Research

Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD); Social Informatics; Organizational Informatics

Photo of William Parquette

Professor of Practice

Strategic Deception; National Intelligence; National Security

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Cognitive Modelling and learning; Cognitive Architecture; Human-Computer Interaction

Photo of Don Shemanski

Professor of Practice

Photo of Andrea Tapia

Interim Dean

Crisis Informatics; Social Data Analytics; Social Theories and Methods of Information

Photo of Urja Vora

Associate Teaching Professor

Multidisciplinary Engineering; IoT; Software Architecture

Suhang Wang

Assistant Professor

Data Mining; Graph Mining; Machine Learning

Photo of Aiping Xiong

Assistant Professor

Human Factors; Cybersecurity and Privacy; Human Perception and Action

Photo of Lynette (Kvasny) Yarger


Social Informatics; Future of Work; Critical Theory

Photo of Xiang Zhang

Associate Professor

Data Mining; Machine Learning; Big Data Analytics

Recent News

One Health Microbiome Symposium to convene experts for innovative discussions

Penn State’s One Health Microbiome Center will host the One Health Microbiome Symposium on May 30-31, 2024, at the Huck Life Sciences Building on the University Park campus.


Competition helps expose demographic and cultural biases in generative AI tools

Penn State’s Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence announced the winners of its first-ever “Bias-a-thon.” The competition, held Nov. 13–16, asked Penn Staters to identify prompts that led popular generative AI tools to produce biased or stereotype-reinforcing outputs.


$7M grant funds project to develop new ways to protect mushroom crops

A new grant for more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will fund an upcoming project led by Penn State researchers, who aim to develop new pest management tools for mushroom crops.


$1.45M NSF grant to fund new research into how grasses thrive in dry climates

A new $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Penn State researchers, including undergraduate students, to explore how pores on plant surfaces work and might be engineered to enhance photosynthesis and efficient water use.


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Office of Research

411 Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub
State College, PA 16801
(814) 863-6801