Calit2 at UCI Hosts Science/Technology Graduate Student Conference

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

04.25.05 – How do blogs affect an election? How can participation in multi-user domains increase an amputee’s self-esteem? In what ways does negative space impact identity?

The Calit2 First Annual Graduate Student Conference on the Social and Cultural Aspects of Science and Technology convened April 15 at UCI’s Calit2 Building to discuss these and other issues related to the impact of science and technology on society. More than 40 UC Irvine graduate students who represented a variety of disciplines presented their research, participated in panel discussions and exchanged ideas during the day-long conference. Topics included information overload, privacy attitudes and practices, social networks in conflict management, and the prospect of scientific change undermining humans.

Johanna Brewer presents her research

The event was organized by Allison Fish, a graduate student in anthropology, and Jennifer A. Rode, an information and computer sciences graduate student. Paul Dourish, Calit2 associate director for research, was the conference’s faculty adviser.

According to Fish, the goal of the conference was to promote interdisciplinary research among UCI’s graduate students by providing a forum for students from different departments with similar research interests to network and build community.

“The connections that were formed during the conference will, I hope, serve as the beginning of ongoing collaborative research partnerships between the individuals and their departments,” she said.

Added Rode: "Students in disciplines ranging from visual studies to anthropology, from computer science to English, had an opportunity to discuss the socio-cultural aspects of science and technology. It began a discussion of disciplinary identity and started to build an interdisciplinary dialog between graduate students through a combination of academic presentations and informal social gatherings."

Paul Dourish
Conference faculty advisor Paul Dourish

The conference was a success. “I know of one anthropology student who met a member of ICS who works on the same subject; these two people plan to get together in the future,” Fish said. “Another presenter works on a subject that is very similar to the research of a friend of mine who is pursuing his doctorate at another university. I will be introducing these two people via e-mail. Neither of these connections would have been made without having had the conference.”