The Information School (iSchool) has added four outstanding new members to its growing faculty. This fall, the iSchool welcomes Emilee Rader and Rick Wash as associate professors and Clinton Castro and Chaowei Xiao as assistant professors. Research interests among the new faculty are diverse, from information security and data privacy to bias in algorithms and socially responsible machine learning.
As an interdisciplinary unit within the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, the iSchool continues to hire faculty that reflect a commitment to deepening human understanding of the roles information plays in a high-tech, data-driven society. Each of the new faculty members brings unique strengths to share with iSchool students through their teaching, research, and mentorship.
“It’s exciting, and exceptionally fortunate, that we can welcome these four talented and accomplished scholars to the iSchool,” said iSchool Professor Director Alan Rubel. “They add depth and breadth to our growing faculty, and they will enrich the experience for students across all of our programs. I look forward to seeing them use their expertise and creativity to help train the next generation of information professionals.”
Read on to learn more about all of the new faculty members, and keep an eye out for future updates on their work.
Associate Professor Emilee Rader comes to the iSchool from Michigan State University, where she worked in the Department of Media and Information for 12 years as an assistant professor, associate professor, and most recently, associate department chair.
Rader studies how people make decisions about data collection and digital technologies. Her work aims to better understand why individuals struggle to manage their privacy and discover new ways to help people exert more control over their information. Accordingly, her work explores topics including digital privacy, social norms, big data, and sociotechnical systems.
She was a recipient of the highly competitive Computing Innovation post-doctoral fellowship award from the Computing Research Association, and her work has been funded by several grants from the National Science Foundation. Rader holds a PhD in Information from the University of Michigan and a professional Master’s degree from the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Why UW-Madison: “I joined the iSchool because I am excited by the opportunity to be part of a growing department, and to use my skills and experience to help shape what the iSchool and CDIS will become.”
Associate Professor Rick Wash also last worked at Michigan State University, where he served as assistant professor then as associate professor affiliated with both the Department of Media & Information and the School of Journalism.
Wash’s research focuses on information security and online communities, with an emphasis on the ways people protect themselves from Internet-based or other technology-related risks. His work on cybersecurity has had a substantial influence in the realms of academia, industry, and government. In 2020, he received the Impact Award from the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) for the long-term impact of his 2010 paper “Folk Models of Home Computer Security’ has had in the field of human factors of cybersecurity.
Wash’s impact has also been recognized by the tech industry; he received a Security and Privacy Research Award from Google in recognition of the impact his research has had in industry on helping to secure cyberspace. In addition, Wash has recently published multiple articles in the Wall Street Journal based on his research related to phishing.
He received his PhD in Information from the University of Michigan, where he also earned a Master of Science in Computer Science.
Why UW-Madison: “I came to Wisconsin hoping to be able to use my expertise to help make the world a safer, more secure place for people who use modern technology, and I think UW-Madison is a place where I can do that. I’m currently working on finding better ways to educate and help people protect themselves from phishing, understanding how people make security decisions, and rethinking how we measure whether cybersecurity efforts are successful.”
Assistant Professor Clinton Castro served previously in the Department of Philosophy at Florida International University for five years, where he was an assistant professor and director of the Program in Ethics, Artificial Intelligence & Big Data from 2021 to 2023.
Castro’s work explores information ethics, including how new technologies can present thorny moral and ethical problems related to human autonomy and attention. He is the author, along with Adam Pham and iSchool Director Alan Rubel, of Algorithms and Autonomy: The Ethics of Automated Decision Systems as well as other books, chapters, and papers on topics including the attention economy, algorithmic fairness, and digital minimalism.
Castro is returning to the UW after earning his PhD in Philosophy here in 2018.
Why UW-Madison: “This is a unique opportunity for me – a philosopher by training – to be in an interdisciplinary department, where I can collaborate with people from different academic backgrounds. And it is in Madison, one of my favorite places and somewhere that I am very happy to be able to (again) call home.”
Assistant Professor Chaowei Xiao worked most recently at Arizona State University as an assistant professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence.
Xiao’s research investigates the intersections of security, privacy, and machine learning with the goal of building socially responsible machine learning systems. He has recently become interested in exploring the trustworthy problem in Large Language Models and studying the role of LLMs in different application domains.
Xiao has received multiple best paper awards; last year, he was part of a team that won the Gordon Bell Special Prize for High-Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research from the Association for Computing Machinery (read more about the award-winning project here). His research group is currently looking for undergraduate, master and PhD students who is interested in machine learning and security. In 2020, he obtained a PhD from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan.
Why UW-Madison: “The UW-Madison iSchool’s commitment to interdisciplinary work is a perfect match for my research interests, offering numerous opportunities for collaboration not only with esteemed faculty within the iSchool but also with experts from other departments, including Computer Science. This environment allows me to engage in meaningful and impactful research that aligns with my goals and contributes to the advancement of my field.”
The iSchool is thrilled to welcome these four exceptional scholars to its faculty.
Written by: Thomas Jilk, marketing & communications specialist