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Student Spotlight: Josh Borycz Finds Purpose in Scientific Data Management

MSIS student Josh Borcyz in BrazilFeatured student: Joshua Borycz

Location: Knoxville, TN

Education: Bachelor of science in chemistry and mathematics from Hope College in Holland, Mich.; master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota; and PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota.

Current job: I work at Oak Ridge National Lab for the Office of Research Excellence. I visualize data using Python, answer research questions, and work at the reference desk. I’m also doing research with DataONE. Professor Suzie Allard and Professor Carol Tenopir are my academic advisors.

Why SIS?

After I finished my PhD, I went on a long hike – along the Pacific Crest Trail. I thought about what I wanted to do next and chose information science because I wanted to help graduate students and faculty do scientific research more efficiently.

While I was doing my PhD, I noticed the data management practices of the people in the lab were not particularly logical, and I thought that there must be someone working on ways to improve these practices. I looked into information science because my brother is a librarian at the University of Chicago, and I found out there’s a subset of information scientists who work on this type of thing.

Why UT?

I looked into who was doing work on data management and found Carol Tenopir, who is very well-known in the field and has published several papers on scientists’ attitudes towards data sharing. So, I decided on the University of Tennessee because of the opportunity to work with her.

I wanted to be an on-campus student to get more one-on-one interactions with faculty and students.

How has your experience been at UT?

Last summer I had the opportunity to go to São Paulo, Brazil, because Suzie Allard collaborates with some faculty there. I worked on a research project there for three months and received class credit. This year, I’m studying more about information systems, data science, and data analysis in the social sciences.

Working with Suzie and Carol at UT has been very cool. They’ve connected me with people from all over the world and given me an opportunity to work with them doing research. I’ve published a couple of papers about the behavior and attitudes of scientists with respect to data management, and learned a great deal.

I’m working now on a survey of academic and industrial chemists from around the world, concentrating on Brazil and the United States because of the connections I have from my work with DataONE. Suzie and Carol are very open to helping students to find the path that they want to follow in the information sciences.

What’s next?

I have been applying for jobs a lot and have been offered several. I’m probably going to take a job with Vanderbilt University but have not decided for sure. The titles of jobs I’m being offered are called things like science librarian, data management librarian, or STEM librarian.