San José Gateway PhD Program Alumna Receives Impressive Commendation for Doctoral Thesis


In recognition of her outstanding doctoral work, Dr. Mary Ann Harlan, a 2012 alumna of the San José Gateway PhD program, received the 2012 Dean’s Executive Commendation awarded by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Harlan completed her doctorate in the San José Gateway PhD program, a part-time, primarily online doctoral program offered in partnership between the San José State University (SJSU) School of Library and Information Science and QUT, which allows doctoral students to earn a PhD in library and information science from QUT without relocating to Australia.

Harlan’s dissertation, “Information Pathways: The Information Practices and Experiences of Teen Content Creators,” focused on how teens find and experience information when they participate in digital participatory communities. Dr. Christine Bruce, Harlan’s faculty supervisor at QUT, spoke of Harlan’s project: “The work was highly innovative in that it drew together the role of information actions and experiences, showing their complementarity in a unique way. Her thesis was also crafted in a way especially suited to the explanation of her grounded theory work.”

Harlan believes her doctoral experience broadened her view of the school library and its importance for youth. “The school library is a place for learning beyond the school curriculum. It’s a place for youth to follow their personal passions, much in the same way I was able to during the Gateway PhD program.” She added that the San José Gateway PhD program “was also a cementing of my identity as a lifelong learner; being able to go so deeply into a topic was a gift.”

QUT presents a small number of dean’s excellence awards each year, and recipients are identified by a faculty panel. According to Bruce, Harlan “was deeply committed to her work, her participants, and their context. Her personal passion showed in her writing, without detracting from her scholarly excellence.” Harlan’s award was made by the science and engineering faculty at QUT. The QUT Information Studies Group posted a congratulatory message on their Facebook page in February 2014.

Harlan is currently the coordinator of the Teacher Librarian program and a lecturer for the SJSU information school. She is also an alumna of the SJSU information school’s nationally ranked Master of Library and Information Science program.