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Societal Computing Ph.D. Works To Improve Online Experiences

Katy Rank LevTuesday, June 15, 2021

The choice to study societal computing, an interdisciplinary program blending computer science and policy, felt logical for ISR grad student Aurelia Augusta, who embodies the intersection of multiple identities. 

The choice to study societal computing, an interdisciplinary program blending computer science and policy, felt logical for Aurelia Augusta, who embodies the intersection of multiple identities. 

"Being Black, a Nigerian immigrant, and then coming out as trans and understanding my identity as a trans woman has really informed my methodological rigor," said Augusta, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research. "Intersectionality is important to me in all areas."

Augusta said she sees the world through multiple lenses and keeps a central question in mind when she conducts her research: what does this mean, and who is this for? In the tech sector, she worked on trust and safety projects that ranged from implementing spam filters to developing tools to review scripts that volunteers use when phone or text banking in political campaign work. She lives the tensions and contradictions marginalized people experience online, and realized graduate research would best equip her to make positive changes.

"I know what it's like to feel out of place," she said. "I find it very easy to sympathize and empathize with a lot of people."

Through her research, Augusta has found that marginalized people, specifically Black women and trans people, are systematically harassed online, and people in intersectional groups are much more frequently and severely harassed than others.

"The field just is not talking about this," Augusta said.

Read more about Augusta and her research in this student profile.

For More Information

Aaron Aupperlee | 412-268-9068 | aaupperlee@cmu.edu