Blake named 2017-2018 Centennial Scholar

Catherine Blake
Catherine Blake, Professor, MS/IM Program Director, and Associate Director, Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship

Associate Professor Catherine Blake has been named the iSchool's Centennial Scholar for 2017-2018. The award is endowed by alumni and friends of the School and given in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and/or professional promise in information sciences.

A leading researcher in text mining medical literature, Blake has returned from a year as a faculty fellow at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, a research and development unit of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There she worked on projects in semantic knowledge representation and medical ontology research.

Blake's earlier focus on how people synthesize evidence from literature directly informs her computational approaches to accelerate scientific discovery. She utilizes her industrial experience as a software developer, formal training in information and computer science, and more than a decade of experience in text mining scientific articles in medicine, toxicology, and epidemiology. Her work has been published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology,  the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Environmental Health Perspectives, and elsewhere. She has also published three book chapters.

Blake is co-principal investigator on a project funded by the National Science Foundation that uses next-generation risk assessment tools to explore how the culture of an organization affects the likelihood of a disaster. She recently completed a project that analyzed data reuse at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I am deeply grateful to receive this award, and the timing rounds out a wonderful year while I was on sabbatical at NIH. I am very much looking forward to integrating that experience back into the iSchool and the information science research community," said Blake, who also holds affiliate appointments in the Departments of Computer Science and Medical Information Science at Illinois.

"We are delighted to recognize Cathy's work with the Centennial Scholar award," said Dean Allen Renear. "She has been pioneering new approaches to better integrate and advance our understanding of medical research results. This is enormously important work, and we are excited about both the results so far and the prospects ahead. We are also, of course, very pleased to have her back with us!"

At the iSchool, Blake serves as associate director of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship, which studies the information lifecycle in the contexts of science and scholarship. She teaches text mining, an introductory course on databases, evidence-based discovery, and foundations of socio-technical data analytics. She also designed the School's graduate specialization in Socio-technical Data Analytics (SODA), which was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and formed the basis of the data analytics track in the new MS in information management. 

Prior to joining the iSchool in 2009, Blake was an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She holds an MS and PhD in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine, and a BS and MS in computer science from the University of Wollongong, Australia.

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