Dr. Chaoqun Ni brings her expertise in information technology and science policy to the iSchool. She’s excited to continue her research in scholarly competition and gender disparities within scientific fields at the iSchool, particularly under the new CDIS division at UW-Madison.
I earned a PhD in Information Science, with a minor in Statistics from Indiana University Bloomington. I was an Assistant Professor at Simmons University and the University of Iowa before I moved to Madison.
What main problem do you seek to solve in your work?
I study science, scholarship, and the scientific workforce using massive data to inform decision-makings on science policies. I want to know how we can build a competitive scientific workforce. We all know the importance of science and scientific discoveries. As the human capital of science, scientists are essential to scientific advancement. So my research aims to identify factors that may impede or facilitate the development of scientists’ career development to inform the cultivation of a competitive scientific workforce.
What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?
Information and data literacy. I’ve been teaching data and information technology related courses, such as database, information visualization, computing foundations, metadata, etc. One major goal of my courses is to get students comfortable with technology and help them learn data and information technology basics. We are in an era where data and information technologies are more powerful and important than ever. Not everyone will rely on these skills for their jobs, but being comfortable and knowing the basics will be beneficial. This is particularly true for us as information professionals. So I hope students who take these courses with me will be able to learn these basic skills and ways to go further if needed.
What attracted you to UW-Madison?
UW-Madison is a highly reputable university and Madison is a great place to live for my family. But what is most important is the iSchool: the iSchool has always been very prestigious in our field and has recently added new degrees and started new partnerships with other units on campus. I am very excited about the opportunity to be involved in the new direction of the School.
Please tell us about the parts of your work you are most passionate about.
One focus of my current research is about the gender disparity issues in the scientific workforce. Although there are more female than male undergraduate and graduate students in many countries (including the U.S), there are relatively fewer female tenure track or tenured professors, and a dramatically lower number of full professors. Female professors are also less likely to be tenured, funded and promoted, and female authors produce fewer publications and receive fewer citations than their male counterparts. So my research tries to understand why this is happening. If we understand college education as the beginning of the pipeline of the scientific workforce, we have more women at this end. But we lose many of them as we reach the end of the pipeline (full professorship for instance). We “leaked” women in the pipeline of scientists. So my research is trying to understand why this is happening and what we can do to reduce the leak.