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Student Spotlight: Yasmin Stoss Zeroes in on Providing Information Access to Researchers

Prague YasminFeatured student: Yasmin Stoss.
Location: Knoxville, TN.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Japanese.

Career: After graduating, I was working for a while, I had two full-time jobs before I started the master’s program.  One of them was working with an institutional review board at a different university and through that job, I got a job with a tech company, Techsoftware.

At the IRB, my role was as a coordinator, and I was something like a compliance officer as well. I would review research submissions, give people feedback if they didn’t structure things well, and teach our committee members about federal and local law for the conduct of ethical research.

At Techsoftware, I was helping clients, mostly ethical compliance organizations, to create electronic submission forms and customize the interface for the database that stored all those forms. Everything was online and every client had their own website. I was able to  work from anywhere in the world!

Why did you choose the information sciences?

Since high school I’ve been interested in tech and programming, and as a psychology student, I got interested in UX Design. I knew I wanted to get a master’s degree, first of all, because in this day and age, having more education is just better for you in terms of finding work. I wanted to find something that married my interests a little bit more than what I was doing already. I’m not sure how I found out about information science as a field, I was just looking at research.

I saw that, in information science, there was a large focus on research, which is really important to me. And there’s a tech component, which is not really heavy, you don’t have to be a software designer. I wanted to learn more coding but not that much! There’s also a large focus on people and designing systems for people.

For me, it’s all about people and giving people access to information. This lack of access is such a big problem. It creates misunderstanding which can lead to prejudice and poor life choices. 

Why UT?

I think it was a combination of things. Just deciding that the program was a good fit for me and had classes I’m interested in, on top of being ALA accredited. And my husband is getting his masters, and we both liked UT for the programs we’re in, and we’re close to family.

How has your experience been?I think one of the strengths of the program is you have all these opportunities to get hands-on experience, both with faculty and people at the university and at places nearby, like ORNL.

I got to work as a graduate assistant out at ORNL, and that was a great experience. I worked at the reference desk at the ORNL library, finding resources and shelving items. That’s where I first started learning Python and I wrote my first text mining script for a large document allowing someone to make graphs with it and do different types of analysis.

I wrote several lib guides over there about open access and how to use Google Scholar. I used some of my UX Design skills to build a nice webpage for those documents to be housed. We also worked with HR creating profiles for candidates they wanted to hire by looking at metrics like their H-index, which is an indicator of their scientific standing. The H-index is based on the number of publications and the citations that those publications have.

As far as faculty, I’ve been working with Dr. Allard, she is my advisor and she brought me onto DataOne, and I’ve been working on a research team with her. It’s been a really awesome experience and I’ve learned a lot about science disinformation and data mining.

We have two papers we’re working on and I’ll be first author on one of those, and we have a science disinformation workshop we’re hosting in November.

What did you do for a practicum?

Working with the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Data Science and Integration Group was my practicum, which I did over this past summer. I worked with the database team there, scouring the database to find spatial data for any project where data were collected from an aircraft. That was just a ton of data. The purpose was to give researchers using the repository knowledge of exactly where the measurements were taken, making sure we have more detail so they can do better research.

I got to practice using SQL there as well, doing quality checks and working with the metadata team. I also got to create a display showing missing or erroneous metadata that would tell the database team what they needed to work on next. That also had a UX Design component, as far as how it should look and be efficient for the team to read.