Featured Faculty: Joel Chan – Assistant Professor

Joel Chan is an Assistant Professor in the iSchool. His research and teaching explores systems that support creative knowledge work, in domains such as design and scientific discovery. Being in an iSchool, he conceives of “systems” very broadly, from individual cognitive skills, interfaces, tools and practices, to collaborative and organizational dynamics and tools, all the way to sociotechnical infrastructures within which knowledge work is done. Sometimes he studies such systems; and sometimes he creates new instances of such systems; often he does a close mix of the two. His long-term research vision is of a world filled with creativity support systems that are open and sustainable. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Project Scientist in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon University, where he worked with Steven Dow and Niki Kittur. Joel received his PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was advised by Christian Schunn.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH?

My research and teaching explore systems that support creative knowledge work, in domains such as design and scientific discovery. Being in an iSchool, I conceive of “systems” very broadly, from individual cognitive skills, interfaces, tools and practices, to collaborative and organizational dynamics and tools, all the way to sociotechnical infrastructures within which knowledge work is done. Sometimes I study such systems; and sometimes I create new instances of such systems; often I do a close mix of the two. My long-term research vision is of a world filled with creativity support systems that are open and sustainable.

WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU ENJOY ABOUT DOING RESEARCH WITH STUDENTS OR SOMETHING YOU LOOK FOR WHEN PICKING NEW STUDENTS TO WORK ON YOUR PROJECTS?

I enjoy research with students most when there are high levels of curiosity and conscientiousness. Curiosity can look like especially probing questions, a history of “side projects”, or even a “bone to pick” (something that *really* annoys/vexes you!). It’s what’s needed to get escape velocity in a useful direction. Conscientiousness is needed to push through to finish projects or get over humps when curiosity wanes. It’s what’s needed to get/maintain useful trajectories to get insights.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU LOVE ABOUT THE HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION LAB?

Its diversity and energy! It’s such a treat to hear about the many different projects and approaches that people are engaged in. I also *love* the tight connection with practice and serious contexts of use.