In August I completed my PhD in the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am looking for a good fit to further my research agenda, contribute to a vibrant scientific team, continue supporting and teaching amazing students, and of course continue learning and engaging with interesting folks.
This fall I took a fantastic opportunity to work for University College London at Qatar as a visiting researcher and lecturer. My colleague, Dr. Sumayya Ahmed, and I launched an exciting new research project, entitled, “’I’ve only been here for two days, how do you…?’: WhatsApp group as a social and collaborative information seeking virtual platform for Muslim women living abroad in the Middle East”. Our study explores the information seeking behavior of expatriate women as they move into and acclimate to life in the Middle East. Using the communication and information exchanges amongst an existing, user-initiated WhatsApp group whose sole purpose is to support women moving into the capital city of Doha, Qatar, this study examines the unique information needs expressed through group chat as well as the dynamic roles members play alternating between information seekers, providers, collaborators, and supporters. We hope to better understand how the group functions as a tool for women as they seek information and make sense of their new environment with the help and support of virtual strangers. As a woman arriving for the first time in Doha myself, I quickly realized the relevance and value of social networking tools like WhatsApp in helping me navigate and acclimate to new surroundings and processes of life in Qatar.
While at UCLQ I taught reference and research methods classes, worked with amazing graduate students, and engaged with the local community in the midst of constructing new visions for libraries in Qatar and beyond. This was my first trip to the Middle East and the warm welcome I received made my experience extremely memorable, a treasure trove of sights, sounds, food, and scents. My time in Doha coincided with the final preparations for the opening of the Qatar National Library so I was fortunate to receive several tours, meet with library leaders, and get a feel for the exciting things happening there. I was particularly impressed with the dual effort toward supporting the local and modern community while also investing in the preservation and access to historical and national memory.
I continue to teach at the School of Information & Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill and am preparing for one of my favorite topics, research methods, this spring.
My dissertation research focused on human information behavior in the context of personal crisis. I used interpretative phenomenological analysis to craft and conduct a study into the information experience, decision-making, and coping of birthmothers who relinquished a child for adoption within the last 15 years. I traveled across the U.S. interviewing birthmothers to hear and capture their voices and stories. This work presents an emergent trajectory of information behavior highlighting themes that significantly impacted participants’ relationships with information, their decision-making processes, and ultimately their ability to cope with a crisis pregnancy and child relinquishment to adoption. The study offers implications for both information science and adoption research. I hope to use this work as a launch pad to explore other life contexts of personal crisis.
Deeper exploration into how individuals respond and cope with a negative life event in terms of information engagement to support decision-making can help us improve existing information retrieval systems as well as inform practice in working with people in crisis. I am interested in pursuing research that examines various contexts of personal crisis, particularly situations in which shame and social stigma may impede effective information seeking behavior and thus compromise informed decision-making behaviors.
I am drawn to inquiry into human information behavior within the context of personal crisis, one filled with emotion, life-long consequences, stigma and unfamiliar pathways, because of my own tenuous relationship with information in such circumstances. Due diligence in terms of information seeking is supposed to inspire confidence, expand our understanding, and help us weigh options through an informed evaluation process. Too often my experience with information in such situations has been frustrating, entrenched with uncertainty, and even regret. Navigating information sources in the face of a personal crisis with the intent to discern the “right” or “best” decision is almost never straightforward and rarely results in a clear, confidence-inspiring answer. With that sentiment, there exist in the journey of life many different contexts of personal crisis that we might explore—to uncover the commonalities as well as the diversity of information behaviors surrounding an episode of personal crisis.
I am also invested in the research arena of adoption, particularly research to inform meaningful and substantive reform in current adoption practice and policy. I am active in reform efforts toward legal empowerment of adopted persons in accessing their original birth certificates, educating adoption professionals and social workers in evidence based practice, adoption support groups, and authentic and open dialog surrounding the profound effects adoption has on adopted persons, birth families, adoptive families, and beyond.
A few other miscellaneous tidbits:
- My family includes brilliant husband Dave (mechanical engineer at Porticos) and our precious 13-year-old child, Linden Lea. Occasionally I remember to update our Flickr photo albums. Dave used to be involved with a great group at Rod Millen’s shop while we were in California.
- As a part-time potter, I work in the amazing community clay studio at the Carrboro Arts Center
- I love singing in my choirs, the United Voices of Praise and the Women’s Singing Circle of Hillsborough. Thankfully neither required my audition, I sing best in accompaniment of greatness!
- Linden and I have been taking guitar lesson with the amazing Eric Haugen in Carrboro
- As a family we enjoy taking tennis lessons every week from Ron Rudin
- In mid-2007 I left my position as Distance Education Librarian at California State University Fullerton. For six years I had the fabulous opportunity to work with some of the best librarians in the business at the Pollak Library who let me try all sort of fun stuff and taught me even more. (I miss everyone) . Working with the incredibly diverse student population in Southern California taught me new things about our society almost everyday: cultures, languages, accessibility, ethnicity, learning styles, social issues, ethical issues, religious identity, gender identity, and one of the most visible aspects of our students – the ever-changing fashion styles of Southern California youth! If that doesn’t capture the essence of diversity, I don’t know what does.
- Before Fullerton I worked at the Lexus (division of Toyota) U.S. headquarters in Torrance with the best PR folks in the business – and a got to drive some of the best cars in the business. I also got to work with amazing auto journalists from all the car mags, Car & Driver (I know how to pronounce Csaba Csere), AutoWeek, Road & Track – what an education
- I taught English in Chengdu – a very large city in the Sichuan province of China in 1995 and developed a love and fascination of the Chinese culture and people
- My sister, Dr. Rebecca Green is a WAY COOL wildlife biologist conducting research on fishers in the Sierra Nevada mountains (fishers are small mammal carnivores – among the most adorable small mammals on the planet). Check out her work at: http://wittmer.wfcb.ucdavis.edu/rebecca_green.html
- My folks recently moved closer to us (we have the only grandchild) from Charlottesville, Virginia where they lived for 23 years. Dad is an electrical engineer, Southern Baptist minister and avid Amateur Radio operator [call sign = KX4P, profile at http://www.qrz.com/KX4P. Mom is a nurse who has spent several summers teaching English in China
- At one time I was a potter and artist-in-residence at the Hollerfolk Gallery in Syria, Virginia. Now I spend a precious few hours each week in the clay studio at The Arts Center in Carrboro.
- My favorite state in the U.S. is beloved West Virginia. As an undergraduate I transferred, sight unseen, to Concord College in the mountains of Southern WV primarily because they advertised classes such as “Appalachian Traditional Dance”. I fell fully and forever in love with the people, mountains, and hollers of WV. It was there that I found another lifelong passion…clay. Many thanks to Professor Steve Glazer for the patient instruction and never ending encouragement. As many folks say, “West Virginia: I wasn’t born here but got here as fast as I could!” However I remain terribly disappointed to never garner a full-on nickname like so many friends, Woodstock, Trailmix, Mongo, Possum, Hootie, and Goose.
- To keep up with my husband I’ve become something of an auto enthusiast – reading the car mags, appreciating the engineering of a really good car, sharing opinions with anyone who cares, and following F1 racing.
- My dream evening: riding in a big old truck around WV back roads listening to country music and stories about the folks who live up the hollers.
- I studied piano for 12 years under such masters as Art Wheeler (Charlottesville), Tannis Gibson (UVA), and Dr. Daniel Horn (Wheaton College Music Conservatory).