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Assistant Professor’s Passion is to Better Humanity

By Bel Huston

January 14, 2020

More and more, the way we communicate is through social computing. Pam Wisniewski, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science, examines how people are managing their social interactions with others through the use of technology. Her team studies the juxtaposition of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Social Computing, and Privacy.

“It is my goal to help people by enriching online social interactions and promoting ethical and usable technology solutions,” Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski describes her passion for her work as “a way to better humanity.” Her award-winning, user-centered research examines the complex interactions between technology and people and how they affect human behavior and society. Wisniewski’s vision is to help social media users better manage interpersonal boundaries and ensure that the benefits of technology outweigh the unintended and potentially negative outcomes.

She has gained recognition for ground-breaking research on adolescent online safety, which includes empowering teens to self-regulate their online behaviors to more effectively manage the risks. Her research on the subject has won best paper awards (top 1%) and best paper honorable mentions (top 5%) at premier conferences in her field, as well as publications in Science Daily, Forbes, and NPR.

Her latest research project studies how teens learn to cope with the constantly changing social media world, as well as the potential online risks. Teens are early and eager adopters of internet-connected technologies and have also been shown to be more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors. As such, they are susceptible to cyberbullying, sexual solicitations, information breaches, and exposure to explicit content. This research, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, studies the nature of these experiences and in the effort to build effective interventions to help mitigate some of these online risks.

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