Open Knowledge Lab at UMD is Open!

Organizing a new research lab is a little like growing a garden: it takes a little time for the seeds to germinate. The Open Knowledge Lab* has been incubating over the 2014-2015 school year since Dr. Andrea Wiggins‘ arrival at the UMD iSchool, and we’re finally ready to launch with an exciting crew, a great portfolio of research projects, a few new publications, several grants, and a shiny new website.

The first big news actually came months ago, when an NSF grant was awarded for the Biocubes project, which is now in full swing. Since then, we’ve also received seed grant funding and support for a cross-disciplinary workshop on crowdsourcing, so we actually have quite a backlog of great news to share.

More importantly, we’re staffing up with a fantastic team. Doctoral candidate Yurong He has been deeply involved in the Biocubes project since before its official launch, and has incorporated the project into her dissertation research, while doctoral student Brenna McNally has been advising us on working with youth-focused technologies. This summer, Dr. Alyson Young will join our team to assist in a new study focused on understanding the role of data provenance in scientific innovation. And in the fall–mere months away now–Jonathan Brier will join the team as a new PhD student, broadening our perspective on social computing in citizen science.

We are also pleased to be launching several brand-new projects with some great partners, and there are several events to announce as well–more details to come!


*We’re not the first “open knowledge lab” but it really is the right name for what we study. We’re completely independent from the Open Knowledge Foundation, but we’re big fans of what their Open Knowledge Labs are doing to “make tools and insights using open data, open content and open code.” Rock on! Our work complements those efforts with theory and research focused on supporting open access to both the means and products of knowledge production. Each group is interested in slightly different aspects of “open” and working in different types of “labs”, but we’re definitely all on the same team.