Information Visualization Scholar Appointed Assistant Professor at the SJSU School of Library and Information Science


Dr. Michelle Chen, a scholar and educator in the area of information visualization and big data analysis, will transition to a new role as an assistant professor at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) in Fall 2013.

Since Fall 2012, Chen has served as a full-time lecturer at the school, teaching courses on information visualization, information technology management, and project management for students enrolled in the information school’s fully online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, as well as students enrolled in the school’s fully online Post-Master’s Certificate program.

As an assistant professor, Chen will continue her research regarding big data analysis and information visualization. In collaboration with faculty from National Taiwan University, Chen is currently using information visualization techniques to study how cultural groups differ in their use of online library resources. She is also collaborating with the Illinois Digital Archives, where she is developing new visualization methods to improve how information professionals curate data and how users retrieve information from large digital collections.

Chen explains that her interest in information visualization research was sparked by the challenges she faced while conducting her own research with large online data sets. “Those challenges motivated me to step into big data research, helping others understand how to work more effectively with large-scale information and present that data in a way that enables users to mine the data and make new discoveries,” said Chen.

In her conversations with students, Chen emphasizes why information visualization is such an important topic for future information professionals. She tells students that today’s information explosion, with its dramatic increase in available information, means that information professionals need to find new ways to organize, analyze, and present information. “A wide range of information professionals are grappling with these issues, including librarians, archivists, and records managers,” explained Chen. “Tomorrow’s information professionals need to understand how to create graphical presentations of large-scale data, which can support better decision making.  They also need to know how to develop user interfaces for manipulating data and communicating about large data sets.”

Chen recently made a presentation to SJSU School of Library and Information Science graduate students regarding the growing career opportunities in information visualization and what this emerging field is all about. Her one-hour webinar, entitled “When Information Visualization Meets LIS,” is summarized in a post on the information school’s New Student Blog, which includes a link to the webinar recording.

In addition to her role as a full-time lecturer with SJSU SLIS, Chen’s teaching experience includes serving as an assistant professor with the Department of Operations and Information Management at the University of Connecticut, as well as the Department of Analytics and Technology at the University of San Francisco.

Starting this fall, Chen will also be part of the new San José State University interdisciplinary initiative regarding big data. Drawing on her own interdisciplinary background, Chen will work with colleagues in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Management Information Science, and Psychology (Human Factors) to develop curriculum and conduct research. 

Chen holds a doctoral degree in Information, Risk and Operations Management from the University of Texas at Austin, and a master’s degree in Computer Science and Information Engineering from National Taiwan University.

Chen’s appointment as an assistant professor with the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University will begin in August 2013.