Kiesler Receives Hillman Professorship In the School of Computer Science

Byron SpiceThursday, April 1, 2004

PITTSBURGH-Sara Kiesler, professor of human-computer interaction in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science (SCS), has been named to the Hillman Professorship in Computer Science, a chaired professorship created in 1986 through the Hillman Foundation, Inc., to attract the best and brightest faculty to SCS.

The Hillman Professorship was previously held by Dana S. Scott, one of the world's most distinguished researchers on the logical foundations of programming. Scott became an emeritus professor last year.

Kiesler came to Carnegie Mellon in 1979 as a professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences. She conducted some of the first scientific studies of computer-mediated communication and the Internet. Her papers examined phenomena such as openness in online communication, group equalization, and geographically distributed work in organizations. With support from the Markle Foundation, she created annual workshops for scholars that ultimately led to the creation of new areas of research in social and organizational aspects of technology.

With her colleague Lee Sproull, now vice dean of faculty and Leonard N. Stern School professor of business at New York University, Professor Kiesler authored "Connections: New Ways of Working in the Networked Organization," published by MIT Press in 1991.

She collaborated extensively with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon and elsewhere on social aspects of the Internet, an effort that produced "Culture of the Internet," published by Erlbaum in 1997. She worked with Robert Kraut, Carnegie Mellon's Herbert A. Simon professor of human-computer interaction, on the first investigations of the social impact of the Internet on families. She also worked with Pamela Hinds on the faculty at Stanford University, Suzanne Weisband, at the University of Arizona, Jonathon Cummings, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Susan Fussell at Carnegie Mellon and others on problems of multidisciplinary collaboration and geographically dispersed science and project work. "Distributed Work," a volume of research edited with Pamela Hinds, was published by MIT Press in 2002.

Professor Kiesler's current research projects span a variety of problems in the social aspects of technology. One project involves applying social science theory to designing more effective online communities. Another examines new ways of using technology to improve highly complex collaborations in organizations, hospitals, and government services. She is also studying human-robot interaction, where her work is aimed at understanding people's mental models of robots, and cognitive and social designs for effective interactions with autonomous personal robots.

"Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science takes a very broad view of computer science," said SCS Dean Randal E. Bryant. "Sara Kiesler exemplifies this breadth with her concern for how human communication and social processes are affected by the presence of computer and networking technology. I am pleased that we can provide an environment where social scientists can work with technologists to ensure that technology will benefit society."

"Sara is one of the cornerstones of the Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and I am thrilled that she is being honored with the Hillman Professorship," said Daniel P. Siewiorek, Buhl university professor and director of the HCII. "She is the consummate interdisciplinary faculty member. Her research is a model of scientific rigor and creative application. In addition to initiating innovative projects that involve several junior faculty, she also serves as their mentor"

Kiesler received a bachelor's degree in social science from Simmons College, masters' degrees in psychology and communication from Stanford University and her doctor's degree in psychology from Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Carnegie Mellon faculty, she held positions at Yale University, Connecticut College, the University of Kansas and the National Research Council. She spent sabbatical years at Xerox PARC and at Interval Research Corp.

She has served on numerous national committees and panels concerned with technology, science policy, and society. Her awards include the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Public Health Fellowships and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Scientist Development Award. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Science Society, In 2002, she was elected to the CHI Academy, an honor bestowed in the field of human computer interaction on those who have helped shape this field of research.

The School of Computer Science will host a reception in Kiesler's honor on May 19, 2004.

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Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 |