Drexel CCI PhD in Information Science Alumni Win NSF CAREER Awards

Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) alumni Nazanin Andalibi, PhD information science ’18 and Zhan Zhang, PhD information science ’16 are recipients of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) award — the organization’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty.

Nazanin AndalibiAndalibi, currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, received an NSF CAREER award to support her research on emotion artificial intelligence, technology developed to infer people’s emotions and mood. Andalibi will receive nearly $650,000 over five years to fund her research.

"I’m interested in uncovering the justice, privacy and ethical implications of emotion AI use in the workplace and hiring interviews, especially for marginalized workers or job seekers who would be at more risk of harm as a result of being subjected to emotion AI,” Andalibi said.

"[Emotion AI technology] continues to be patented, developed and used across a range of domains including the workplace and hiring without adequate regulation or public input,” said Andalibi, noting concerns around the technology’s validity, privacy, accuracy and bias.  She is also intrigued by the way people relate or share their personal and sometimes sensitive information with technology.

Andalibi credits her academic experience at Drexel in helping to achieve this scholarly milestone. “I got excellent mentorship and training, worked with an amazing advisor, Andrea Forte [professor and information science department head] and had ample opportunities for professional development during my time at CCI,” she said. “These were instrumental to my development as a scholar.”

Zhang, currently an assistant professor at the Seidenberg School of CSIS at Pace University, received an NSF CAREER award to fund research to design, develop and evaluate smart glass technology to support the work of paramedics and ambulance personnel. Zhan Zhang standing in trauma room at a hospital

Emergency responders can experience a number of challenges while providing urgent care to patients on site and transporting them safely to the hospital. Paramedics and ambulance personnel, who must keep their focus on the patient in a fast-paced, hands-on environment, find it difficult to use any smart devices while doing their job, Zhang said.

As such, Zhang’s goal is to design smart glasses for emergency responders. "It has camera, it has GPS to tell providers how far they are from the hospital and an estimated time of arrival,” Zhang said. “It also has augmented reality (AR) feature so it can display tax form information, or images, or other types of information in front of their eyes.”

The smart glasses will also have a see-through screen, preventing any visual obstructions. Another goal is to make the smart glasses touchless and enable voice commands, eye gazing, or hand gestures to direct the smart glass to take a picture or call the hospital.

Zhang credits his doctoral training at Drexel CCI as well as the guidance of his advisor and Associate Professor of Information Science Aleksandra Sarcevic, PhD, in helping to prepare him for his current faculty position at Pace University.

CCI’s PhD in Information Science examines the intersection of information, technology, and people. Built on a long tradition of excellence, PhD in Information Science graduates go on to careers in academia, industry, administration and policy-setting. Learn more on CCI's PhD in Information Science webpage.

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