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Campus News

iSchool Dean Honored by Scientific Computing Society

By Tom Ventsias

Jenny Preece
A university administrator and researcher at the forefront of studying human-computer interaction was recently honored by the Association for Computing Machinery, or ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

Jennifer Preece, professor and dean of the College of Information Studies, Maryland’s iSchool, was one of seven people named to the ACM’s Computer Human Interaction Academy for their contributions to the field, their development of new research and their influence on the work of others.

Preece is noted for leading a national discussion on "technology-mediated social participation," in which users of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online discussion groups and other applications can align popular use of social media with national priorities like energy sustainability, disaster response, community safety and health care.

She is also principal investigator of the Biotracker project, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that encourages everyday citizens to snap digital photos and collect other data on flora and fauna worldwide. The information from Biotracker will be incorporated into the Smithsonian Institution’s Encyclopedia of Life, an online repository for all of the Earth’s estimated 2 million living organisms.

"The Maryland academic community has long recognized the expertise and leadership that Jennifer Preece brings to the field of human-computer interaction," says Ann Wylie, senior vice president and provost. "We could not be more proud of her for this acknowledgement by her peers."

Preece’s induction into the ACM’s academy places her in the company of other full-time and affiliate iSchool faculty researchers: Her husband, Ben Shneiderman, received an ACM lifetime research award in 2001 for his pioneering work in human-computer interaction and computer visualization; and Ben Bederson and Allison Druin, also husband and wife, were honored last year for their work in developing the International Children’s Digital Library.

"The selection of Dean Preece to the academy is a wonderful accolade to the work she inspires here, especially in her research that has highlighted the importance of online communities in regards to usability, sociability and cross-cultural interactions," says Druin, the iSchool’s associate dean for research.

Preece, Shneiderman, Bederson and Druin are actively involved on campus in Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab—Shneiderman was the lab’s founding director, with Bederson a former director and Druin currently in charge.

The lab, jointly supported by the iSchool and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, has a long, rich history of transforming the way that people interact with new technologies.

In addition to her research, Preece has authored or coauthored three high-impact books: Human-Computer Interaction (1994), Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability (2000) and Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction (2002, 2007, 2011).

Preece and the other new academy members will be inducted at the ACM’s international conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia this spring.