PhD Faculty Supervisors


Faculty Supervisors — Gateway PhD

We encourage you to read the biographies and research profiles of the faculty members at the San José State University School of Information who supervise the Gateway PhD post-graduate researchers. 


Anthony Bernier, Professor—AB (UC–Berkeley), MLIS (UC–Berkeley), MA (UC–Irvine), PhD (UC–Irvine). Doctoral supervision: information use; education for LIS, management & leadership, youth services. Specific focus: public libraries; critical youth studies; history, library design and architecture. See Research Profile.

Bill Fisher, Professor—BA (Arkansas), MA (Arkansas), MLIS (SUNY at Geneseo), PhD (Southern California). Doctoral supervision: management and leadership; education for LIS. Specific focus: information agencies in corporate settings; curricular issues in LIS. See Research Profile.

Sandra Hirsh, Professor and Associate Dean for Academics, College of Professional and Global Education —BS (UCLA), MLIS (University of Michigan), PhD (UCLA). Doctoral supervision: information use; education for library and information science. Specific focus: information seeking behavior; global studies of information use; online learning. See Research Profile.

Geoffrey Liu, Professor—BA (Wuhan), MA (Wuhan), PhD (Hawaii at Manoa). Doctoral supervision: information retrieval; information systems and collaborative learning. Specific focus: natural language processing; virtual communities; data mining; group dynamics and decision making. See Research Profile.

Ziming Liu, Professor—MS (Zhongshan), PhD (UC–Berkeley). Doctoral supervision: information use. Specific focus: user behaviors in the digital environment. See Research Profile.

Lili Luo, Professor—BA (Peking), Master (Peking), PhD (UNC–Chapel Hill). Doctoral supervision: information use. Specific focus: Education for reference librarianship; Adoption of new technologies in reference service provision; Information seeking behavior in the digital environment. See Research Profile.

Kristen Rebmann, Professor—BS (Biology; Saint Joseph College), MLIS (Library & Information Science; San José State University), PhD (Communication; University of California,San Diego). Doctoral supervision: community-based research; qualitative research methods; literacy and learning design. Specific focus: interventions to support technology integration, learning in distance and informal learning environments; relationships between information behavior and human development. See Research Profile.

Associate Professors

Michelle Chen, Associate Professor—BS (National Taiwan University), MS Computer Science and Information Engineering (National Taiwan University), PhD (University of Texas at Austin). Doctoral supervision: Big data mining and visualization, online social network analysis. See Research Profile.

Mary Ann Harlan, Associate Professor—BA (University of California, Santa Cruz), MLIS (SJSU), PhD (Queensland University of Technology). Doctoral Supervision: information use, youth services. Specific focus: information use and learning, youth information practices in digital communities. See Research Profile.

Virginia Tucker, Associate Professor—BA (Stanford University), MLS (University of California at Berkeley), PhD (Queensland University of Technology). Doctoral Supervision: information retrieval, advanced search, online learning, threshold concepts. See Research Profile

Assistant Professors

Deborah Hicks, Assistant Professor—BA (University of King’s College), MA (York University), MLIS (Dalhousie University), PhD (University of Alberta). Doctoral supervision: LIS as a profession; leadership and management; values and ethics of LIS. Specific focus: professional identity of information professionals; public and academic libraries; ethical decision-making; online professional communication. See Research Profile.

Michele Villagran, Assistant Professor—BSBA (University of Nevada Las Vegas), MSLS (University of North Texas), MBA (University of North Texas), MDR (Pepperdine University), EdD (Pepperdine University). Doctoral supervision: cultural intelligence; diversity, inclusion, community and equity; information and society / culture; law libraries; multicultural populations; social justice; special libraries. See Research Profile.


Sue Alman, Lecturer—BA (Washington & Jefferson College), MLS. (University of Pittsburgh), PhD (University of Pittsburgh). Doctoral supervision: Interpersonal communications; online teaching and learning; management/leadership. Specific focus: See Research Profile.

Mary Bolin, Lecturer—BA (University of Nebraska—Lincoln), MSLS (University of Kentucky), MA (University of Idaho), PhD (University of Nebraska). Doctoral supervision: Academic libraries. Specific focus: Organization, Administration, User Experience, Discovery. See Research Profile.


Research Profile: Geoffrey Z. Liu

Statement of Research Interests and Experience

I have a research background in information retrieval and systems design. I am currently investigating cognitive shifting in dynamic information retrieval and collaborative learning online. I also have research interests in data mining (applied in information processing and services) as well as virtual communities and group decision making.


Research Profile: Ziming Liu

Statement of Research Interests and Experience

I am currently doing research on information-seeking and use.

Possible PhD Thesis Topic Areas

  • Digital libraries
  • Information behavior in the electronic environment

Representative Publications and Professional Activities

​Refer to Faculty Profile and CV.


Research Profile: Lili Luo

Statement of Research Interests and Experience

I joined the iSchool in the fall of 2007 after receiving the Ph.D. in Library and Information Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My primary area of research interest is information services and use. My research explores how information, users and information experts interact with one another. I’m also interested in education for librarians and information professionals.