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School of Information Sciences - University of Illinois


iSchool research fellow receives LJ/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 21:53:09 +0000

(image) Renee Hill, senior lecturer and director of the school library specialization at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies (CIS) and a research fellow at the iSchool, has won the 2017 LJ/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield.
The range of the 23 courses she leads (many of which she designed herself), her passion for teaching, her ability to create online asynchronous courses and make them come alive and feel personal to her students, and the extension of her role as an educator far beyond the classroom are only a few of the reasons why Hill was selected for this honor.

Hill has perfected online instruction in ways that engage with students more than traditional, face-to-face classroom methods. 

"Renee makes online teaching a very personal and engaging experience," said nominator Paul T. Jaeger, director of the MLIS program at Maryland. "Online courses have the real potential to be sterile or even robotic, but Renee designs online education so it is based on constant human interaction."

"It is fun to figure out how to make things real and interesting, and part of the fun for me is learning how to use the technology to reach the students and share a little bit of my personality with them. That way there is not much difference between being in a face-to-face class and being online," explained Hill.

Among her list of service to the profession is her work as a member of the editorial board of the Library Quarterly

According to Jaeger, Hill's teaching, research, and service are integrated and bring together professional practice, innovative research, and key theories. Currently, Hill is embarking on a new research interest in library service to the incarcerated, with a special focus on youth.

Many of Hill's publications focus on how to make LIS education more inclusive and better focused on meeting the needs of diverse populations. They are aimed at a wide range of professionals, and she frequently works with libraries and school systems to educate staff about diversity and inclusion practices, research, and opportunities. 

"My focus continues to be serving people who are often marginalized. It is an area that is often overlooked and uncared about. I'm still strengthening my ability to do research about and teach about them," said Hill.

Cooke elected SIGS director for ALISE

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:59:31 +0000

Assistant Professor and MS/LIS Program Director Nicole A. Cooke has been elected director for Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). As director, Cooke will serve on the ALISE executive board and act as the liaison to all of the special interest groups and committees.
Cooke has been active in SIGs as a member and co-convener of the Doctoral Student SIG and co-convener of the Multicultural, Ethnic, and Humanistic Concerns (MEHC) SIG. 

"I have been a member of ALISE SIGs since I was a doctoral student, and that participation has been key in my development as a faculty member," said Cooke. "I'm very much looking forward to working with the organization in this new role!"

Cooke holds a PhD in communication, information, and library studies from Rutgers University. She is an expert in human information behavior, particularly in the online context; critical cultural information studies; and diversity and social justice in librarianship with an emphasis on LIS education and pedagogy. Cooke is the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award as well as 2016 recipient of the ALA Equality Award. She is the author of Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (Libraries Unlimited, 2016) and co-editor with Miriam E. Sweeney (PhD '13) of Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom (Litwin Books/Library Juice Press, 2017).

BCCB releases 2017 Guide Book to Gift Books

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:49:56 +0000

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books has released the 2017 Guide Book to Gift Books. This annual publication, available as a free downloadable pdf, highlights more than three hundred of the best books for giving and receiving. 

The Guide Book is organized by age group for easier access to the right books for a particular recipient: Picture Books, Books for Young Readers (Grades 1-3; 6-8 years), Books for Middle Readers (Grades 4-6; 9-11 years), and Books for Older Readers (Grades 7-12; 12-18 years). The guide offers a broad range of styles, genres, subjects, and challenge levels. 

"In an ever-changing world, books continue to provide joy for both children and adults," said Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin. "Whether those children take joy in boisterous humor, pensive poetry, or sweeping fantasy, you'll find a book they'll love in our guide."

The Bulletin, founded in 1945, is devoted entirely to the review of current books for children and publishes eleven times each year. Each issue provides concise summaries and critical evaluations with information on the book's content, reading level, strengths and weaknesses, and quality of format as well as suggestions for curricular use.

Cell phone software creates new possibilities for precision medicine

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 18:50:01 +0000

courtesy of the Carl R Woese Institute for Genomic BiologyBruce Schatz is an affiliated faculty member at the iSchool. Embedded in our society is a cultural memory of the old-time family doctor, a medical practitioner who knows of your family, your history, and your daily life, and uses that knowledge to provide the most optimal care. One Illinois faculty member and his research team have been working to move closer to that goal by exploiting a piece of familiar technology—the smartphone that can now be found in the average American's pocket. Professor of Medical Information Science Bruce Schatz and coauthors previously developed software for Android phones that uses the phone's native motion sensor to predict a lung patient’s disease state. That prediction was based on the patient’s movements during an exam at a hospital. In a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health (DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2017.0008), the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association, they described their latest step forward—a demonstration that the new version of their software can be used to monitor a patient’s status while they perform everyday tasks outside of the hospital. "The question I started working on ten years ago was how you could capture everything going on in a person's life, their environment, in enough detail to be clinically relevant, to help predict things," said Schatz, who is also a member of the Carl R Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. "By watching people moving with their phones . . . you might be able to tell what's special about the ones that do poorly." Traditionally, patients with respiratory conditions, including chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD), can be assessed via several measures. Patients may be asked to breath into a spirometer, a device that measures the volume of air that a patient can breathe out in a certain time. A measure of health that relates to everyday functioning is the six minute walk test, in which patients are evaluated based on walking pattern as they walk down a corridor. Schatz' team had already developed and tested software that can predict the result of either of these tests with high accuracy. But to quickly identify when a patient's condition may be deteriorating, or to collect the volume of health data that a precision medicine effort would require, medical practitioners need an easier, more scalable way to monitor patients. "All of the efforts with fancy sensors that you stick onto people have failed because people don't stick them on properly, or only use them sporadically, or they only last for a certain period of time," said Schatz. "If you asked, what sensors does nearly everyone have that you can measure things with, you end up with phones." To fully take advantage of the ubiquity of cell phones, Schatz' team needed to adapt their previously developed software to effectively monitor relevant data about gait during everyday life. The original version of their software used the motion sensors and accelerometers in Android phones to track body motion, pauses during which an individual might be catching his or her breath, overall speed, and other features. Many of these features are complicated if the individual is doing tasks around the home or running an errand. In a clinical setting, any change from a healthy person’s gait might be related to lung function; in other settings, it might instead indicate setting down an object, interacting with another person, or pausing while considering what to do. Researchers improved their software's ability to focus only on movements that occurred during intervals when walking was the only activity. Schatz hopes that by continuing to expand the functionality of this software, his group can make it possible to collect much more robust data sets to further efforts in predictive or precision medicine. As methods for collecting, analyzing and interpreting genomic data advance, methods for evaluating an individual’s environment, behavi[...]

Irish receives local NAACP award

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 21:58:16 +0000

Sharon Irish, project coordinator for the iSchool's Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI), has received the "Yes We Can" Education Award from the Champaign County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The award, presented at the NAACP's Freedom Fund banquet on October 20, recognizes Irish's service to the community and commitment to equity in education. 

According to Irish, this award provided an opportunity to honor and celebrate the organizations with which she has worked over the past several decades: Dream Girls Academy, Inc.; Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center; Tap In Leadership Academy; Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club; Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths; and Ghetto Genius. She connected with many of these groups initially through her work at the CDI, formerly the Community Informatics Initiative, as well as through her involvement with local public libraries and schools. 

"Education means building on the cultural wealth in our communities, supporting each learner where they are to move toward their own goals in the context of their own relationships," said Irish. "The amazing leaders among us show up time and again to create new knowledge with other learners through creative interactions—imagining well-being and brilliance, collaborating to move toward those goals."

She said her aim has been to support and amplify the work of the leaders of these organizations.

"As Grace Lee Boggs wrote," she said, "'Students must discover their own understanding of the truth by developing a heightened awareness of their situation.’ We must explore 'why' in addition to knowing ‘how.'"

Allen selected as 2017-2019 iSchool research fellow

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:37:38 +0000

(image) Laurie Allen, director for digital scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, has been selected by the iSchool faculty as a research fellow for the 2017-2019 academic years. Research fellows are chosen because their work is relevant to the interests of the School's faculty and students. During the period of their appointments, fellows give at least one public lecture.

Allen leads a group working to expand the capacity of faculty and students at Penn to create and share scholarship in new forms, including data management and curation, mapping, digital humanities, and open-access publishing. As part of her involvement in the multi-institutional IMLS-funded "Collections as Data" National Forum grant, she is working to support new approaches to collecting, sharing, publishing, and caring for materials that are (or should be) held by cultural heritage organizations. 

Allen is interested in public data literacy and publicly engaged digital collaborations. Since 2014, she has served as the research director for Monument Lab, a public art and civic research project in Philadelphia that recently launched a city-wide exhibition and public data project. In addition, she is a key organizer of Data Refuge, a project in Penn's Program in Environmental Humanities that aims to protect copies of federal environmental and climate data through a distributed network, bring together volunteers to protect climate research, and call attention to the relationship between data and communities.

Before joining Penn Libraries in 2016, Allen worked as the coordinator of digital scholarship and services at the Haverford College Library. She holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Bard College and a master's of library and information science from Simmons College.
"I'm tremendously honored and pleased to be a research fellow at the iSchool," said Allen. "As a practicing librarian without a long list of publications, I am not used to thinking of myself as a researcher. That makes this opportunity to share what I have learned especially exciting for me. I look forward to joining in conversations with scholars and students in the iSchool about the ways that our field can support new forms of scholarly expression, especially when those forms engage with public data and attend to the needs and experiences of marginalized communities."

Jeanie Austin defends dissertation

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 19:40:51 +0000

Doctoral candidate Jeanie Austin successfully defended their dissertation, "Libraries for Social Change: Centering youth of color and/or LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth in library practice," on November 6.

Their committee included Associate Professor Emerita Christine Jenkins (chair), Assistant Professor and MS/LIS Program Director Nicole A. Cooke (research director), Associate Professor Carol Tilley, Associate Professor Soo Ah Kwon (Department of Asian American Studies), and Rae-Anne Montague (Director of Grassroots Fundraising, Education Justice Project).

From the abstract:

Critically aware libraries are capable of providing meaningful services to youth made most vulnerable to the state through surveillance, policing, and incarceration.  This research traces how past policies and processes that established white, middle-class, and hetero-normative conduct and knowledge as central to library services have worked—and continue to work—against youth of color and/or LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth.  It pulls from queer, feminist, poststructural, and critical theory to provide a model for how libraries can center youth made vulnerable to the state.  This involves an interrogation of what representation does or can do in the current moment alongside the recognition that cultures within librarianship inhibit library access for youth of color and/or LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth.

John Deere internship gives MS student hands-on experience with data analysis

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:51:30 +0000

(image) Nandana Nallapu is learning about data science, both through her work in the classroom and as an intern for the John Deere Technology Innovation Center at the University of Illinois Research Park. With a bachelor's degree in information technology from SRKR Engineering College in India, she is building on her academic success by earning an MS information management (MS/IM).

Nallapu worked as a software engineer before coming to the iSchool for her MS/IM degree. She discovered the opportunity at John Deere after attending career fairs and networking events during the spring semester. Her internship, which began in the summer, includes cleaning and analyzing agricultural data and finding ways to use the results in John Deere's apps and products. She enjoys working on interesting projects in an R&D atmosphere with the data science team.

"While the iSchool got me interested in learning the nitty-gritty of data science and how things worked, interning at John Deere has helped me transition from an academic learning perspective to the hands-on application of what I learned," Nallapu said.

"After finalizing my class schedule, I divide my week into school days (where I am in class), work days (where I am at John Deere), and study days. If I'm hard pressed for time and lagging behind in schoolwork, I take a couple of days off from work. I'm lucky because my manager, Mark Moran, is very understanding and strictly believes school comes first."

"The combination of her professional experience before grad school, her research since coming to Illinois, and the coursework of the iSchool has made Nandana a great addition to our team," said Moran, associate director and manager of data-driven innovation for John Deere Technology.

After earning her degree, Nallapu plans to travel and pursue a career in data science.

Liu receives grants to attend CIKM 2017

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 14:56:54 +0000

(image) Master's student Jiayi Liu has received two awards to attend the CIKM 2017 International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, which will be held on November 6-10 in Singapore. The conference will highlight technologies behind the "Smart Cities, Smart Nations" vision shared by urban areas worldwide and will explore technology and business collaboration opportunities through open innovation.

The first award received by Liu is the CIKM Travel Award, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Hypertext, Hypermedia and Web (SIGWEB). The second award is the SIGIR Student Travel Grant, sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval.

At the conference, Liu will present her work, "ClaimVerif: A Real-time Claim Verification System Using the Web and Fact Databases." Claim Verif is a claim verification system that provides credibility assessment for a query claim and validates the assessment results with supporting evidence. According to Liu, this claim verification system can be highly useful in practical applications by providing multidimensional analysis for suspicious statements, since it includes stances, opinions, source credibility, and estimated judgements.

Liu has a BS in computer engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Her interest in data science brought her to the iSchool's MS in information management (MS/IM) program. After completing her master's degree, she plans to continue her studies and pursue a doctoral degree.

Cooke receives funding from Provost for cultural competence work

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 15:57:45 +0000

Nicole A. Cooke, assistant professor and MS/LIS program director, has received a Provost's Initiative on Teaching Advancement (PITA) grant, worth $7,500, for her proposal, "Inspiring Culturally Responsive Pedagogy." PITA grants support the implementation of teaching innovations and enhancements at the University of Illinois. 

With the PITA grant, Cooke will extend the cultural competence work the iSchool has undertaken in the past few years and continue the work of a previous curriculum audit.

"Culturally responsive pedagogy is a student-centered approach to teaching in which the student, and societal diversity, are recognized and nurtured in an effort to enrich classroom learning—and are used to encourage student achievement and a sense of well-being about the student's cultural place in the world,” said Cooke. "Focusing on culturally responsive pedagogy will facilitate discussion and additional learning about culturally competent course content and provide concrete tools for implementation in iSchool classrooms."

Cooke in the author of the book, Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (Libraries Unlimited, 2016). She is the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award, 2016 recipient of the ALA Equality Award, and 2016 recipient of the University’s Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity. Her research and teaching interests include human information behavior, particularly in the online context; critical cultural information studies; and diversity and social justice in librarianship with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy. She holds an MEd in adult education from Penn State and a Master of Library Science and PhD in communication, information, and library studies from Rutgers University. 

Foote selected as the next executive director of ILA

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:15:52 +0000

(image) The Board of Directors of the Illinois Library Association (ILA) unanimously approved the hire of Diane Foote as the organization's next executive director.

Foote (MS '06) boasts a long history of effective leadership, both as an executive director of a membership association and as a member leader. Most recently, she served as assistant dean of the School of Information Studies and curator of the Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University in River Forest. At Dominican, Foote recruited and shaped new librarians, launched and managed multiple special projects, and conducted both donor stewardship and development—particularly with the Butler Family Foundation.

"The mission of the Illinois Library Association resonates with me as a citizen, a parent, and a professional," she explained. "I have spent my entire career, as well as my volunteer time and effort, in organizations dedicated to ensuring a literate, educated population. As the information environment grows ever more complex, librarians will be needed more than ever, and the opportunity to lead Illinois librarians in these ventures is extremely exciting to me."

Foote has a BA from Colgate University and an MS in library and information science from the iSchool at Illinois.

ILA is the voice for Illinois libraries and the millions who depend on them. It provides leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services in Illinois and for the library community in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. More than 2,500 individual and 500 institutional members—made up of public, academic, school, and special libraries as well as librarians, library assistants, trustees, students, and library vendors—comprise the ILA membership.

ILA Board President Melissa Gardner commented, "We are excited to bring Diane on board as our next leader. Her experience, energy, and vision are the perfect combination to propel us into the next era at ILA. I am confident that she will serve our membership well."

Foote will officially assume the role on November 14, 2017. 

Benson and Green share expertise in copyright, digital publishing at SCI 2017

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 13:22:24 +0000

Master's student Sara Benson, copyright librarian and assistant professor at the University Library, and Harriett Green, affiliated faculty member and head of scholarly communication and publishing at the University Library, have been invited to present at the 2017 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI 2017).

SCI 2017, which will be held from November 5-9 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a forum for teams of individuals from diverse backgrounds to come together to define challenges, explore strategies, and establish collaborations in the domain of scholarly communications. This year's theme is "Scholarly Storytelling: Compelling Research for an Engaged Public."
Benson and Green's project, "A New Framework for Sharing and Reflecting Non-Textual Cultural Narratives," explores how researchers, cultural heritage institutions, designers, and communities can collaborate to design frameworks for digital publications that reflect community-embedded research focused on cultures with non-textual modes of Traditional Cultural Expression. The project team also includes Camee Maddox-Wingfield, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Brad Tober, assistant professor of design and visual analytics at Boston University.

Abstract: The project will use a case study approach to explore the penumbra of political, social, and cultural issues surrounding the creation and transmission of Traditional Cultural Expressions in cultural traditions with an oral and performative aspects to their knowledge networks. The case selected for study is collaborator Camee Maddox-Wingfield's "Digitizing Diaspora Dance Identities." This project is an evolving scholarly work in digital humanities and Black Studies that critically incorporates dynamic digital media, research in the African diaspora, and non-textual formats of Traditional Knowledge that resonate with flexible elements of storytelling and performative narratives.

Benson will provide legal and copyright policy expertise for the discussion of rights surrounding cultural heritage and knowledge sharing, while Green will provide expertise in building a sustainable framework for digital publishing.

Bonn presents at OpenEd17 and Charleston Conference

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 18:38:09 +0000

Senior Lecturer Maria Bonn is sharing her research on scholarly communication with scholars, professionals, practitioners, and educators through two major, education-focused conferences. 

At the 14th Annual Open Education Conference (OpenEd17), which took place in Anaheim, California, from October 11-13, Bonn led the round table discussion, "Walking the Walk for Open Pedagogy: Community Design of a Shared Open Educational Resource about Scholarly Communication for Librarians and Learners."

Abstract: This presentation describes our work developing a collaborative, community-driven, dynamic OER for introducing students and practitioners to scholarly communication. An open resource is critical to this approach because scholarly communication has a multiplicity of contexts and meanings so institutions, instructors, and learner need to be able tell their own stories. Openness creates a space in which voices historically excluded from presumed "authority" can influence and even own the narrative, contributing stories which are inspirational and grounded in experiences often left out of traditional textbooks.

At the Charleston Conference, which will be held from November 6-10 in Charleston, South Carolina, Bonn will present the talk, "What Do Those Scholars Want Anyway?" She will discuss a research effort funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that involved surveying and interviewing humanities scholars to gain a deeper understanding of their scholarly publishing experience. These research findings will help inform the development of publishing capacity at the University of Illinois and will be shared with scholars, publishers, and librarians.

In addition to scholarly communication and publishing, Bonn's teaching and research interests include networked communication and the economics of information. Prior to joining the iSchool, she served as associate university librarian for publishing at the University of Michigan Library, where she managed the University of Michigan Press and Scholarly Publishing Office. She also has served as assistant professor of English at institutions both in the United States and abroad. Bonn received a bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester, master's and doctoral degrees in American Literature from SUNY Buffalo, and a master's in information and library science from the University of Michigan.

Integrated lab-on-a-chip uses smartphone to quickly detect multiple pathogens

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:31:36 +0000

Adapted from a Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) news releaseA multidisciplinary group from the University of Illinois and the University of Washington at Tacoma (UW Tacoma) has developed a novel platform to diagnose infectious disease at the point of care, using a smartphone as the detection instrument in conjunction with a test kit in the format of a credit card. The group is led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Brian T. Cunningham; iSchool Research Scientist Ian Brooks; Bioengineering Professor Rashid Bashir; Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Steven Lumetta; and David L. Hirschberg, who is affiliated with UW Tacoma's School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. The team also includes iSchool MS student Smit Desai. Findings have been published in Analytical Chemistry, demonstrating detection of four horse respiratory diseases, and in Biomedical Microdevices, where the system was used to detect and quantify the presence of Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya viruses in a droplet of whole blood.  The low-cost, portable, smartphone-integrated system provides a promising solution to address the challenges of infectious disease diagnostics, especially in resource-limited settings or in situations where a result is needed immediately. The diagnostic tool's integration with mobile communications technology allows personalized patient care and facilitates information management for both healthcare providers and epidemiological surveillance efforts. Most importantly, the system achieves detection limits comparable to those obtained by laboratory-based methods and instruments in about 30 minutes. A useful capability for human point-of-care (POC) diagnosis or for a mobile veterinary laboratory is to simultaneously test for the presence of more than one pathogen with a single test protocol. This lowers cost, saves time and effort, and allows for a panel of pathogens—which may cause similar symptoms—to be identified. Infectious diseases remain the world's top contributors to human death and disability, and with recent outbreaks of Zika virus infections, there is a keen need for simple, sensitive, and easily translatable POC tests. Zika virus appeared in the international spotlight in late 2015, as evidence emerged of a possible link between an epidemic affecting Brazil and increased rates of microcephaly in newborns. Zika has become a widespread global problem—the World Health Organization (WHO) documented last year that since June 2016, 60 nations and territories report ongoing mosquito-borne transmission. Additionally, since Zika virus infection shares symptoms with other diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya, a quick, accurate diagnosis is required to differentiate these infections and to determine the need for aggressive treatment or quarantine. Dr. David Nash, a private practice equine expert and veterinarian in Kentucky, is a key collaborator on the project. For the research effort, horses were used as an animal model for respiratory disease in humans and food animals.  According to Nash, "You can often more easily develop diagnostic tools for human use by coming in to development from the animal side of things first. Many diseases show up first in animals, kind of the canary in the coal mine." The financial impact of infectious disease outbreaks in horses can be significant. "It's costly to horse owners and trainers and disrupts the business operations of all equine sports. Consider this—on December 25, 2016, a single horse stabled at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans experienced a fever and subsequently developed neurological symptoms. The state diagnostic lab was 100 miles away and was closed for the Christmas ho[...]

Narang joins startup aimed at detecting skin cancer in early stages

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:21:18 +0000

(image) Imagine a Facebook app that instantly predicts the likelihood of skin cancer., a technology startup based in Champaign, has developed this open source app and is working on its next product—a smartphone app that can detect if a person has suffered a concussion. Ravijot Narang, a student in the iSchool's MS in information management (MS/IM) program, is working on product strategy, product validation, market analysis, and customer development for the new company, which is dedicated to improving healthcare through the use of artificial intelligence and big data.

Narang, who earned a BS in electrical engineering from Shri G.S. Institute of Technology and Science in India, came to Illinois because of the flexibility of the iSchool's MS/IM degree program. He met founder Michael Dietz, an Illinois graduate in electrical engineering, at an event and was struck by their mutual interest in helping people through technology. He joined the team in the spring semester.

"We open-sourced the skin cancer detection app, as we really wanted people to be able to get a better diagnosis without any cost or hassle. Skin cancer is a major issue worldwide; now with the advancement and confluence of image recognition, machine learning, and mobile technology, people can detect skin cancer early from the comfort of their homes. We have open-sourced the code and technology, so that people can add their expertise and build upon the base we have built—the best solution ever," said Narang. 

Earlier this month, Narang was invited to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit, a gathering of 7,000 young leaders and entrepreneurs held in Boston.

"I thought the Forbes platform would be a good way to get in touch with like-minded people for the new skin cancer detection app, so I reached out to people at Forbes and told them about my project, interests, and past accomplishments, and they invited me to be a part of the summit."

According to Narang, the best part of the summit was the relationships he made.

"Everyone was so welcoming and open. You get to make friends who are curing cancer using carrots, running a $200-million private equity firm, creating water filters that cost $1, and so on. I think getting to meet people and form a tribe that sees the world as you do was the best part of my experience."

After earning his master's degree, Narang looks forward to using his information management skills to enter the venture capital industry or get involved in enterprise account expansion.