RIT Professor Selected for Social Computing Position at Microsoft Research




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Elizabeth Lane Lawley, associate professor of information technology at Rochester Institute of Technology, has been selected for a visiting researcher position at Microsoft Research in Seattle, Wash. Lawley will take a one-year sabbatical to conduct research in Microsoft’s social computing group.

Lawley spearheaded the creation of the social computing laboratory that’s part of RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences’ (GCCIS) new research initiative—Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure (CASCI). Lawley is the director of the social computing lab and has recruited industry experts to serve on the lab’s advisory board. The lab offers research at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“I hope to strengthen the ties between RIT’s new lab for social computing, and industry, starting with Microsoft itself,” says Lawley. “It is important for us to know what the needs of industry are as we prepare RIT students for careers in this space. I also hope to bring back new ideas and approaches gained from working with some of the talented researchers at Microsoft Research.”

Lawley will be providing input on current Microsoft Research projects such as its Wallop social networking service and MSN search. She will also begin developing a social computing curriculum to implement at RIT when she returns.

The curriculum will be part of a new Ph.D. program in computing and information sciences offered through the Golisano College. The program is pending state approval.

“I will be pursuing a social computing track for the Ph.D. program as well as courses at the undergraduate level. These courses would blend technology implementation with sociological theory to enable students to develop tools for the social computing market.”

Lawley’s current teaching and research interests focus on the development and use of social software and computing technologies, including weblogs, wikis and real-time chat environments. She also conducts research and speaks on the topic of gender imbalances in technology and education. Lawley holds a bachelors degree in history (1984) and a masters in library science (1987) from University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in information science from University of Alabama (1999).

NOTE: RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest comprehensive computing college in the nation, was created with a $14 million gift from B. Thomas Golisano, founder and chairman of Paychex Inc.

The college offers undergraduate programs in computer science, information technology, applied network and systems administration, new media, and software engineering, as well as graduate programs in computer science, information technology, software development and management, and computer security and information assurance.

The college is home to the Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure, located in the university's Laboratory for Applied Computing building, which partners with industry and other research organizations in the advancement of computing technology in support of scientific discovery and product development, and to foster technology commercialization.

Founded in 1829, RIT is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and education for the deaf. RIT enrolls 15,300 students in more than 340 undergraduate and graduate programs.