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SIS Faculty Award Recipients: Associate Professors Awa Zhu and Devendra Potnis

SIS Associate Professor Awa Zhu was awarded the 2020 SIS Bonnie Carroll and Roy Cooper Faculty Enrichment Award for the cumulative research she has done over the past two years.

“I was so excited. I don’t have a lot of publications, so I was very surprised, and [SIS Director Diane Kelly] said that the award committee praised my publication quality,” she said

Zhu’s recognized research includes a reworked chapter from her dissertation published in “Information & Culture” that discusses the early information searching system LexisNexis and the users’ role in shaping and developing that technology

“A lot of people think that technology changes society, but actually people play a more important role in the development of technology than we would normally think,” Zhu explained

She has also published research about open government data and digital ownership and rights; Zhu said she will be exploring the latter topic more when she is on sabbatical this fall.

SIS Associate Professor Devendra Potnis received the Gloria and Dave Sharrar Faculty Research Fund Award this year for research on hashtags as gatekeepers of information communicated over social media. 

Potnis said that he and CCI doctoral student Iman Tahamtan will empirically examine different ways in which hashtags on Twitter can be used for understanding and addressing global pandemics such as Covid-19. Potnis said he knew that his research proposal was a strong one, and that he was happy to learn when the award was announced to fund it.

“The proposal is solid, the idea is fresh, novel, and it has the potential to make an impact in terms of practice,” he said. “In terms of theory, it will contribute to the gatekeeping literature in information science.”