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iSchool seeks faculty researchers in STEM fields to participate in focus groups

January 21, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Margaret Spillett

The School of Information Studies (iSchool) seeks faculty researchers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to participate in focus groups whose input will help shape the curriculum to educate cyberinfrastructure facilitators (CI facilitators). The first meetings of the focus groups are slated for February and March.

The CI facilitator is a new kind of information professional who possesses the skills to discover the information needs of scientific researchers and adapt available technology to satisfy those needs. This new professional forges links among people, information and tools in order to manage, organize, mine and process the immense amounts of scientific data that are continuously generated in the research process. The new breed of information professionals is responsible for integrating the communication, collaboration and data management facilities that different scientific communities need to solve large-scale challenges in their respective fields.

Focus group participants can help define the skill set of these future CI facilitators by providing valuable feedback about the information needs within their research labs.

Associate Dean Jeff Stanton and his team will analyze the needs of these focus group participants, and their needs will be combined with existing research on cyberinfrastructure skills to aid in the design of a new curriculum. This new educational program will be based on existing courses, modified courses and new courses, along with a range of educational experiences, including internships, technical trainings and special lectures.

Focus group participants will also have the chance to connect with the first cohort of students selected to begin the CI facilitator program in the iSchool and to recruit them as summer interns at no cost to their labs. These students are skilled in managing large data sets and have undergraduate degrees in the sciences. Money from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will fund their internships.

The focus groups are part of a two-year project, "CI-Facilitators: Information Architects across the STEM Disciplines," funded by the NSF. The research on the CI facilitator grant is headed by Stanton, Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy and professors Derrick L. Cogburn, Paul Gandel, R. David Lankes and Megan Oakleaf.

If you are interested in attending these focus groups or in having a trained information professional work on your research, contact Jeffrey Stanton at citeam@syr.edu or 443-2879.

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