Bei Yu, Katchmar-Wilhelm Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies and faculty lead for the iSchool’s certificate program in data science, has been selected as a Microsoft Investigator Fellow.  

The award recognizes her impact, leadership, and accomplishments in her research field. The recognition includes an award of $100,000 annually for the next two academic years, as well as access to use of the state-of-the-art Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Yu is one of 10 fellows to be selected to receive awards in this cohort.

Yu’s research focuses on applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to assess the quality of information, especially health information, on the web and social media. Her overarching research goal, she says, is to curb misinformation and develop high-quality information services to benefit the general public. She uses machine learning and natural language processing techniques to improve information quality and access through computational analyses of large amounts of text data. Part of that work involves development of prediction models, in which she examines large blocks of text data to look at the linguistic patterns that characterize people’s opinions, emotions, and language styles, as well as how those communication aspects impact information quality.

Yu expects to use the Microsoft fund to further her research on identifying exaggeration in health claims. Her current project, funded by a CUSE grant, examines health claim exaggerations in press releases and news stories. The data assessments are conducted by extracting and comparing health claims made in news articles and research papers, she says.

“The Microsoft Investigator Fellowship Award provides timely support for my research and teaching toward the ultimate goal of my profession: assure that everyone has fair access to relevant and accurate information. Azure cloud computing resources will not only enhance data storage and analysis for my research projects, but also provide the computing power to facilitate teaching NLP as a data analysis method to students with diversified educational backgrounds,” the professor adds.

Yu notes that while many of her students are not from the STEM field, they are still eager to apply NLP tactics to analyze their research and application domains, which occur in various fields, such as political affairs, economics, and education. She said she hopes that having Azure’s availability as a unified, cloud-based lab environment provides the students with easy access to the latest NLP techniques.

Before joining Syracuse University, Yu was a postdoctoral researcher at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds both bachelor and master’s degrees in computer science.