Jane Im awarded Rackham Barbour Scholarship

The scholarship will support her work on creating safer social computing systems grounded in users’ consent.
Jane Im
Jane Im

PhD student Jane Im has received a Barbour Scholarship for the 2022-2023 academic year to support her studies in information and computer science and engineering.

Jane’s work is centered around finding ways to protect people’s consent on the internet. She is interested in issues of human-computer interaction, social media, digital safety, privacy, and data ownership.

Social platforms are suffering from severe integrity problems including online harassment and surveillance, which cause harm to users’ safety and agency. 

Jane is focused on the relationship between such issues and users’ consent, and she is researching how consent can be better incorporated into platform design. To do so, she began with a feminist theoretical framework of affirmative consent (i.e., consent that is voluntary, informed, specific, revertible, and unburdensome) as a foundation for designing safer social systems, especially for marginalized populations (CHI 2021). 

From that perspective, she is researching how affirmative consent can be baked into social systems’ business models, privacy features, and governance. Specifically, she is investigating how business models and privacy features for social media should be designed so that people can enthusiastically and comfortably engage with platforms. 

Finally, she is researching how democratic online governance grounded in affirmative consent can be built, as many platforms have centralized corporate governance that fails to protect users’ safety. In particular, she focuses on how systems can be designed to balance individual users’ consent boundaries and community governance. To mitigate some of the tensions that tend to arise between the two, Jane aims to design a holistic set of safety features and governance tools for socio-technical systems. 

Jane’s work has been previously recognized with a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2021) and a Best Paper Runner Up Award at the ACM Conference on Web Science (WebSci 2020).

Jane is completing the requirements for both a PhD in Information and a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering. She is co-advised in her studies by Prof. Florian Schaub (UMSI) and Prof. Nikola Banovic (CSE).

As an Asian woman, Jane says this scholarship means a lot to her. The Barbour Scholarship was established in 1917 to support women of the highest academic and professional caliber from Asia and the Middle East.