Noble named MacArthur Fellow

Safiya Noble

Internet studies and digital media scholar Safiya Noble (MS/LIS '09, PhD '12) has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Noble, an associate professor in the Department of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is among 25 fellows who will each receive $625,000 in unrestricted support over the next five years.

MacArthur Fellows are selected for their creativity, originality, and potential. By providing resources without stipulations, the foundation offers the opportunity for fellows to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions.

Noble's research focuses on transforming our understanding of the ways digital technologies and internet architectures replicate and magnify discriminatory racial, gender, and power dynamics. Utilizing her expertise in the information sciences and in-depth knowledge of the intersections among culture, race, and gender, she explores how the artificial intelligence and algorithms underpinning technologies have real and negative impacts on the lives of vulnerable people, particularly women and girls of color.

Noble's recent work includes Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (2018), in which she demonstrates how search engines exacerbate racist and sexist stereotypes about Black women as well as other racialized categories of women, including Asian and Latina girls. She details how bias embedded within search algorithms promotes disinformation, reduces the political and social agency of marginalized people, and can lead to real-world violence. Her contributions deepen an understanding of the technologies that shape the modern world and facilitate critical conversations regarding their potential harms.

"It's been wonderful to see the ever-growing impact of Professor Noble’s research, which began at the iSchool with her dissertation, 'Searching for Black Girls: Old Traditions in New Media,'" said J. Stephen Downie, professor and associate dean for research. "Her work underscores the need to expose and then eliminate the prejudices and disinformation that are embedded within the digital technologies our society uses on a daily basis."

In addition to her research, Noble works with engineers, executives, artists, and policymakers to think through the broader ramifications of how technology is built, deployed, and used in unfair ways. Her nonprofit community work to foster civil and human rights, the expansion of democracy, and intersectional racial justice is developing at The Equity Engine.

Noble also is co-founder of the newly established UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, an interdisciplinary research center focused on the intersection of human rights, social justice, democracy, and technology.

"We are so proud of Safiya and her contributions in this crucial area of research," said Dean and Professor Eunice E. Santos. "She is a trailblazer in the field in every sense of the word, and her efforts represent a call to action for scholars and researchers in the field of information sciences as well as internet ethics and social computing."

In addition to her appointment in the Department of Gender Studies and African American Studies, Noble holds an affiliate appointment in UCLA's School of Education and Information Studies. She is the coeditor of two additional books, The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online, and Emotions, Technology, and Design, and the "Commentary and Criticism” section of Feminist Media Studies. Her research has been published in The Scholar and Feminist Online, the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (JELIS), and InVisible Culture.

In 2020, Noble was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from the iSchool Alumni Association (ISAA) and the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award from the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Talbott to lead national advising community

Academic Advisor Katelyn Talbott has assumed the position of chair of the Advising Graduate and Professional Students Community, which is part of NACADA, a global community for academic advising. Her two-year term began in December 2021. In her previous role as a member of the community's steering committee, Talbott served as a panelist at the 2020 NACADA Annual Conference, participated in the quarterly Graduate Professional Series Talks as a panelist and co-moderator, and participated in the 2021 NACADA Annual Conference as a lead presenter on program assessment methods.

Katelyn Talbott

Children’s book authored by Dapier named among the best of 2021

Like the character in his latest book, Mr. Watson's Chickens, Jarrett Dapier (MS/LIS '15) has three chickens. Dapier, a librarian-turned-author, writes at his home in Evanston, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, two children, and pets (including a dog and two cats as well as the chickens). Mr. Watson's Chickens, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was chosen by NPR and BookPage as one of the best books of 2021.

Jarrett Dapier

New project to help scientists mitigate risks of environmental pollutants

In addition to killing insects and weeds, pesticides can be toxic to the environment and harmful to human health. A new project led by Associate Professor Dong Wang and Huichun Zhang, Frank H. Neff Professor of Civil Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, will help scientists mitigate the environmental and ecological risks of pollutants such as pesticides and develop remediation strategies for cleaner water, soil, and air. The researchers have received a three-year, $402,773 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for their project, "Machine Learning Modeling for the Reactivity of Organic Contaminants in Engineered and Natural Environments."

Dong Wang

Get to know Lauren Ochs, school librarian and iSchool practicum supervisor

Lauren Ochs (MS/LIS '07) has always wanted to teach. In college, she decided to become a high school English teacher, because of her love for literature and admiration for an English teacher she had in high school. It was while completing courses and practicum experiences for her major that she discovered how much she enjoyed teaching reading and integrating technology into the classroom in meaningful ways.

Lauren Ochs

Tilley to serve on Lynd Ward Prize jury

Associate Professor Carol Tilley has been selected to serve as a judge for the 2022 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is presented to the best graphic novel, fiction or nonfiction, published in the previous year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident. The annual award is sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.

Carol Tilley