Brian McKernan will join the Center for Computational and Data Science (CCDS) at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) as a Research Assistant Professor in June.

McKernan comes to CCDS from Albany, NY where he has served as an an assistant professor of sociology at The Sage Colleges. He has also taught courses at New York University, Mount Holyoke College, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany.

He is familiar with the work of CCDS director and iSchool professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley. From 2013 to 2015, McKernan worked on the CYCLES project with Stromer-Galley and other researchers.

“CYCLES was a federally funded research program to design an educational video game that can teach players about cognitive biases and reduce the likelihood that they will commit these biases in the future,” McKernan explained. “I found the project to be immensely valuable and my work on the project to be very fulfilling, and I have been eager to participate in similar projects ever since.”

In his role at CCDS, McKernan will work on Stromer-Galley’s TRACE project. TRACE (Trackable Reasoning and Analysis for Collaboration and Evaluation), is a web-based application aimed at improving reasoning through the use of techniques—such as debate and analogical reasoning—along with crowdsourcing to enhance analysts’ problem-solving abilities and foster creative thinking in order to provide support and guidance where human reasoning falls short.

The 50-month project, launched in January, 2017, is supported by a $11.5 million contract from the CREATE (Crowdsourcing Evidence, Reasoning, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation) Program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an arm of the Office for the Director of National Intelligence, which heads the nation’s intelligence services.

“I am looking forward to meaningfully contributing to every facet of the TRACE project,” said McKernan. “Much of my work so far has focused on helping to design the application, particularly how we can incorporate insights from literature in communication and information studies as well as research on nudging and crowdsourcing into the design of our TRACE application.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with such an amazing team of scientists, scholars, and designers at the iSchool on projects that will generate both new knowledge about major issues and real-world applications to help address these issues,” McKernan said.