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Global Search Produces First “iFellows” in New Doctoral Fellowship Program Funded by Mellon Foundation

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) has named the first two iFellows under the new doctoral fellowship program for information science students — Timothy Schultz, PhD student at Drexel University’s iSchool, and Wei Jeng, PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool. These distinguished doctoral students were selected as the first iFellows from a competitive pool of applicants. Students from each of the 55 iSchools with membership in the international iSchools consortium were invited to submit proposals in the spring of 2014.

The newly named iFellows are committed to working with the Committee on Coherence at Scale, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and the iSchools organization on a shared mission aimed at coordinating and aggregating national-scale digital projects in order to promote the development of new technology environments to support advanced scholarship across disciplines, as well as furthering the information sciences field as a whole. In particular, the iFellows will focus their independent PhD dissertation research on addressing an aspect of this goal. Timothy and Wei will each receive a stipend of $50,000 over a two-year period to support their highly-specialized research.


iFellow Timothy Schultz, PhD in Health Informatics student, Drexel University.

Timothy’s research will dive into the world of “big data” as it pertains to collaborating, visualizing, andsharing information in themedical industry. He is particularly interested in developing novel approaches to extracting clinicaltrial data, merging it with actual clinical observations, and then displaying this pairing though graph-based visualizations to help identify promising treatment approaches. As Timothy explains, “The goal is to unlock the information found within these documents to further elucidate the historical evolution of key therapeutic spaces, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” to provide researchers a better understanding of complex diseases.

Timothy has a passion for combining technology with helping people, as his informatics work on developing diagnostics tools to screen a-symptomatic people for Alzheimer’s disease shows. “When a family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the research became incredibly personal,” Timothy explains. He notes that it is an “incredibly humbling experience to see the positive impacts technology can have in our world.” Being named as an iFellow means that Timothy can continue his informatics research and work within the Alzheimer’s therapeutic space, until, as he puts it, “we find a cure.”

iFellow Wei Jeng, PhD in Library and Information Science student, University of Pittsburgh.

Wei’s research will focus on her interest of “information sharing” with an emphasis on investigating how scholars communicate and share research data with one another. She hopes to “develop a broad understanding of the nature of scholarly virtual collaboration and data sharing behaviors in academic communities, and leverage this understanding to provide insights into academic librarianship as well as scholarly communication.”

Wei has been exploring Library and Information Science topics since her undergraduate studies in Taiwan where she discovered her love of “hidden patterns and contexts between humans, information, and technology that went beyond implementations and applications in computer systems.” Her passion in this area led her to pursue an IT specialization during her master’s degree studies (MLIS), which she has carried forward into her Library and Information Sciences research as a PhD student. Wei points to her multi-disciplinary background as “an asset” as she continues her current doctoral research on scholarly collaboration. As an iFellow, Wei will continue to study the data sharing practices of scholars and the implications that such practices may have on academia and education as a whole.


The fellowship program has been graciously funded by an award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and will ultimately support 10 iFellows in total. Additional iFellows will be selected in the coming years, with the next application cycle beginning in summer of 2015. Additionally, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Vanderbilt University a sister grant that will also support the work of the Committee on Coherence at Scale and CLIR through strategic planning.

This doctoral fellowship program was developed by two members of the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool faculty, Dean Ronald L. Larsen and Mellon Cyberscholar and Visiting Professor Stephen Griffin, in collaboration with the Committee on Coherence at Scale.

About Pitt’s School of Information Sciences

The School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at the University of Pittsburgh is home to four National Science Foundation CAREER award winners, an American Library Association-accredited Master of Library and Information Science program that is ranked in the top ten of graduate library programs by U.S. News & World Report, and is one of approximately a dozen centers in the United States to hold five Committee on National Security Systems certifications. Visit: for more information about the school, and for more information about the iFellows program.

About CLIR & The Committee on Coherence at Scale

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. The Committee on Coherence at Scale, sponsored by CLIR and Vanderbilt University, analyzes emerging national-scale digital projects and their potential to help transform higher education in terms of scholarly productivity, teaching, cost-efficiency, and sustainability.

About the iSchools organization

The iSchools organization is an international consortium of research universities whose primary focus is to understand the relationships between information, technology, and people. The iSchool at Pitt is a founding member of the iSchools organization.