As a computer networks software developer, Shubhanshu Mishra realized that he was less interested in software than in understanding its users and their social interactions. This insight led him to the iSchool at Illinois, where he is learning skills in his PhD studies that will prepare him for a new career in information science.
Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?
After completing my integrated Master and Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computing, I worked as a computer networks software developer in India. However, my interests were more aligned with understanding the users of these computational systems and their latent social interactions. While I was working at my job, I also finished courses on machine learning as well as social and economic network analysis from Coursera, which motivated me to pursue a PhD. The abundant opportunities to apply these theoretical concepts to real world data was a major driver in selecting information science as my research domain. While searching for graduate schools to apply, I came across the Socio-technical Data Analytics (SODA) program at the iSchool at Illinois. I found the SODA program to be well aligned with my interests and prior projects.
Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?
Most importantly, I chose the iSchool because it had the best LIS program in the nation and was located at Illinois, a top-ranked U.S. university. I was particularly interested in the work done by the SODA faculty, which was at the intersection of statistical analysis, data mining, applied machine learning, and social network analysis. Finally, the interdisciplinary research avenues available at the iSchool and Illinois influenced my decision to apply to the program.
What particular LIS topics interest you most?
I am particularly interested in the analysis of information generation in social networks such as those in scholarly data and social media websites. I incorporate the latest machine learning and natural language processing techniques in my research. My prior projects have included systems for user sentiment profiling, active learning using human-in-the-loop design pattern, and novelty profiling in scholarly data.
What do you do outside of class?
I enjoy programming and reading about the latest research, which I share on Twitter (@TheShubhanshu). Recently, some of my PhD colleagues and I have started an informal data science discussion group that meets weekly to discuss recent research papers and ideas. I also try to attend a lot of on-campus events, such as talks, seminars, and workshops. I am a frequent visitor of the monthly Illinites at the Illini Union. I think it’s a wonderful student-run initiative that helps students socialize. Sometimes, I can be seen flying my drones in the quad.
What career plans or goals do you have?
I want to continue my research in information and social science and build on my mathematics and LIS training. I enjoy teaching and interacting with students, so a career in academia would be a bonus. However, many companies are also doing groundbreaking research in information science, so I am also open to the possibility of contributing to a commercial R&D lab.