Current Research Projects

Collective Sensemaking in an Online Support Group for Vulvodynia

Chronic pelvic and vulva pain can be defined as noncyclical pain that lasts for more than six (6) months without any apparent underlying cause. It is a worldwide problem that affects women of all ages impacting physical performance and lowering quality of life. This project is investigating that ways in which women suffering from this type of chronic pain co-construct an understanding of their symptoms online and the strategies they have developed to manage their pain. Data are being collected in qualitative content analyses of online forums and social media data, interviews with women suffering from chronic pelvic and vulva pain and medical professionals who interact with these women, and participatory design activities to identify possibilities for system design.

Indigenous Climate Action

This project seeks to understand how indigenous communities, particularly in North America, are building infrastructural tools and using social media to drive indigenous-led climate action. Current research efforts include an ongoing analysis of tweets from the 2017 UN climate change conference to investigate how indigenous communities, peoples, knowledges, and concerns are discussed and considered.

Past Research Projects

Climate Indicators and Data Provenance

I am also extending my work in the environmental sciences through a collaborative project with Andrea Wiggins at the University of Nebraska Omaha and Melissa Kenney at the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center. This project examines how researchers from different disciplines and practical contexts use provenance information to understand and assess the credibility and usability of climate-related indicators.

Assessing the State and Future Trajectory of Land Change Science

This on-going project is a collaboration with researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Global Land Programme (GLP) to assess the state-of-the-field and future trajectory of the Land System Science research community. The aim of the project is to inform the Scientific Steering Committee of the GLP about the state of the discipline and emerging research priorities. Data obtained in the study will also be used to frame my dissertation research and inform the design of the GLOBE system. Research questions of interest include (1) What is the current state of research in land change science? and (2) What are the priorities of the land change science community? Data was collected in an online survey of Land Change Scientists, and focus groups were conducted with approximately 50 individuals at the GLP Open Science Meeting (OSM) in Berlin in March 2014. Observations were conducted also at the GLP OSM in Beijing China in October 2017.

GLOBE: Evolving New Global Workflows for Land Change Science

GLOBE was an NSF funded research project that aims to transform Land Change Science research by enabling new scientific workflows that accelerate global collaboration, data integration and synthesis. GLOBE consists of an online collaborative environment that enables land change scientists and researchers to synthesize and integrate local and regional case study data in order to assess the global relevance of their work. GLOBE allows researchers and institutions to rapidly share, compare and synthesize local and regional studies using global datasets of human and environmental variables.

As a research assistant on the project, I am responsible for conducting field research on land change science work practices; designing and contributing to discussions on User Interface and User Experience (UI & UX) design for the GLOBE collaboration engine front end; managing the development and implementation of the GLOBE public facing website, including web content development, information architecture and usability; and conducting user testing and evaluation on the GLOBE interface.

Dissertation Project

In my dissertation, From Local Data to Global Knowledge: Understanding meta-study practice in Land Change Science, I explore how advances in computational methods and tools are enabling changes in scientific practice in the emergent interdiscipline of Land Change Science (LCS). Focusing specifically on their increased use of meta-studies, I adopt ethnographically-informed methods to unpack the people, processes, and technologies involved in meta-study production, and the ways in which meta-study analyses are contextualized for LCS. My findings were iteratively instantiated in software designed specifically for LCS. This research was funded by a NSF Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation Grant.

This work identifies a number of phenomenological tensions that impact the utility of meta-study research and which give rise to a host of operational challenges, such as the integration of quantitative and qualitative case study data. These challenges ultimately drive innovation in practice, as LCS researchers are faced with developing novel workarounds to accomplish synthesis. Included among these are the use of external sources for validation and explanation (e.g., global datasets from the OECD and WorldBank) and map-based visualizations to aid in sensemaking (i.e., geocontextualization). Building on much of what is known about interdisciplinarity and reuse in scientific practice, my research extends the literature by unpacking key differences, providing a window into the future of Science.