Assistant Professor, Information School, University of Washington
I am an assistant professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. We like maps and information. The research I do aims to map large networks in order to understand the flow of information. I co-founded Eigenfactor.org. This research project aims to rank and map science, in hopes of building better tools for navigating the ever expanding scholarly literature.
I have been lucky in my research journal so far. I have had the best graduate and post-doctoral mentors a graduate. I have worked in departments and universities that encourage the type of interdisciplinary work I enjoy doing, and I have pursued questions that keep me thinking inside and outside the lab.
I grew up in the small town of Ammon, Idaho. It doesn’t house any great scientists, but it does offer close proximity to skiing and the outdoors—something I enjoy very much. I attended Utah Sate University, originally to play tennis and to enjoy some of the best snow on earth. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in biology, I took a two year tennis-pro hiatus and traveled. I returned to USU and completed a Masters degree with Keith Mott and David Peak. The research I did with them explored a topic at the cross section of physics, biology and computer science. I looked at how stomatal networks on the surface of a leaf perform a distributed computation. This work hooked my interests to the field of complexity—an area of science that is ambiguous, messy and full of questions that will take generations to sort out.
In the fall of 2004, I visited the University of Washington and met with Carl Bergstrom in the Department of Biology. After a three-day conversation in three hours about the role of information in biology, I knew I had found the right place. During my PhD, I was introduced to citation networks as a model system for studying information flow in social and biological systems. It is also ignited my passion for improving scholarly communication and led to the Eigenfactor Project. The project continues to grow and now includes research in mapping, information visualization, gender research, economics of scholarly publishing, and recommendation For my post-doc, I was fortunate to continue working in the area of networks and mapping while working with Martin Rosvall at Umea University (Sweden).