University of Maryland

Research Team

We are professors and researchers from UMD’s iSchool and beyond who are interested in the various ways that privacy is enacted through new communication technologies, the concerns individuals express over maintaining privacy of their personal information, and tools that might assist users in achieving and maintaining a desired level of privacy.


Primary Faculty 

jessica_vitak

Jessica Vitak (PhD, Michigan State University) is an associate professor in UMD’s iSchool and affiliate professor in the Communication Department. Her research interests focus on how people are using new communication technologies to enhance their relationships, as well as how they manage the tensions between privacy and disclosure when interacting with others in these spaces. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Collaborators

Michael Zimmer (PhD, NYU) is an associate professor at the Marquette University’s computer science department. Michael’s research focuses on the intersection of privacy and ethics and he currently has funding with Vitak on a NSF grant on mobile privacy and Vitak and Shilton on a NSF grant on data ethics. For more information, see his website or email him directly.

Katie Shilton (PhD, UCLA) is an associate professor in UMD’s iSchool. Her research focuses on ethics and policy for the design of information technologies, systems, and collections. Katie has received funding for several projects from the NSF, including a CAREER grant to study privacy and security by design in mobile development. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Mega Subramaniam (PhD, Florida State University) is a professor in UMD’s iSchool. Her research interests focus on the use of school libraries as effective hybrid spaces to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) interest among under-served, underrepresented and disadvantaged young adults. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Tamara Clegg (PhD, Georgia Tech) is an associate professor in UMD’s iSchool and School of Education. Tammy’s research seeks to understand how we can help people come to see themselves in new ways by helping them form new relationships with information. Tammy works with Marshini and Jessica on a NSF grant developing privacy and security curriculum for elementary school children For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Marshini Chetty (PhD, Georgia Tech) is an assistant professor in the Computer Science department at the University of Chicago Her research evaluates how people manage different aspects of Internet use from Internet constraints such as data caps to Internet security and creating tools to help inform and empower Internet users, particularly in resource constrained settings. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Current Students

Sunyup Park joined the iSchool in fall 2020 as a PhD student in the iSchool and is advised by Jessica Vitak. Her research interest lies in privacy, the Internet of Things, and Human-Computer Interaction. She received her M.F.A. in Communication Design at Yonsei University in 2020 and her B.A. in Economics at Yonsei University in 2016.

Elana Blinder joined the iSchool PhD program in fall 2021 and is advised by Tammy Clegg. Elana is a research assistant on the SPE4K project developing privacy and security curriculum for elementary school students.

Former Students

Priya Kumar (PhD, University of Maryland) graduated from the iSchool in spring 2021. She was advised by Jessica Vitak. She is currently an assistant professor at Penn State in their College of Information Sciences and Technology. Priya’s research focuses on how parents and children negotiate technology and privacy. While at UMD, she contributed to the mobile privacy study (NSF/NWO), the IMLS-funded study of privacy concerns among low-SES families, and the NSF-funded study developing privacy and security curriculum for children. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Yuting Liao (PhD, University of Maryland) defended her dissertation in summer 2021, looking at the utility of chatbots for mental health support. She was advised by Jessica Vitak. Yuting worked on the mobile privacy project (NSF/NWO) and the IMLS-funded study of privacy concerns among low-SES families while at UMD. Her research is interested in the intersection of health, aging, and technology.

Sydney Triola is a PhD student in the iSchool and is advised by Dan Greene. She earned her Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland in 2020. Her research interests lie in the intersection of Criminal Justice Reform and Information Science. Sydney worked on the Venmo Privacy Study. For more information, please email her directly

Nisa Asgarali-Hoffman is a PhD student in the iSchool and is advised by mols sauter. She earned a MS in Human-Centered Computing from UMBC in 2020. Nisa worked on the IMLS-funded project on developing privacy and security training and resources for libraries and patrons in low-income communities.

Zahra Ashktorab (PhD, University of Maryland) graduated in 2017 and now works for IBM. She was advised by Jessica Vitak. Her research focuses on cyberbullying detection and mitigation through the study of social media and social networks. For more information, see her website or email her directly.

Shandra Morehouse was a PhD student in the iSchool. She received her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2018. Her research interests are in archives and information behavior in fanfiction communities.

Andrea Castillo was a MLIS grad student in UMD’s iSchool who worked on the IMLS grant during spring 2017 to help with data collection and Spanish translations during the library patron family interviews.

Katie Kritikos was a PhD student in the iSchool at UW-Milwaukee and is advised by Michael Zimmer. She has a JD and an MLIS from the University of Illinois. Katie’s research looks at issues of intellectual freedom, privacy, and open access. She joined the team as a researcher on the mobile privacy NSF grant.

  • News

    July 2021: Vitak (along with Sarah Gilbert and Katie Shilton) published “Measuring Americans’ Comfort With Research Uses of Their Social Media Data” in the journal Social Media + Society.

    June 2021: Vitak and Zimmer had an extended abstract summarizing their workplace surveillance & COVID-19 work accepted to AoIR 2021.

    October 2020: Vitak and Zimmer published a study in First Monday on privacy concerns associated with the adoption of contact tracing apps.

    August 2020: Vitak & Zimmer were awarded a Rapid Response grant from SSRC to study how workplace surveillance is evolving due to COVID-19.

    January 2020: Vitak, Clegg, and Chetty were awarded a NSF Small grant for their work on developing privacy & security curriculum for elementary school children.

    May 2019: PhD student Kumar presented research from our kids’ safety project at CHI. The paper discusses how educators consider privacy and security when using digital technologies in the classroom. More info is here.

    March 2019: We won the Lee Dirks Award for Best Full Paper at the iConference! PhD student Liao was the lead author on the paper presenting survey results from our IPA study.