Bryan Semaan

Assistant Professor
338 Hinds Hall
Phone: 315.443.5441
bsemaan@syr.edu
Bryan Semaan
Overview

Bryan Semaan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University (SU). He is a founding member of the Behavior, Information, Technology, and Society Laboratory (BITS lab) here at the Syracuse iSchool. He is interested in the general areas of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), and Social Computing.

Bryan has been contributing to the broader field of HCI for over a decade, in which his work has been published in several top-tier Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and related venues, including the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), and the ACM Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction (TOCHI), to name a few. He has been invited to serve on several expert panels and give talks on topics ranging from social media use in crisis to terrorism in the internet age. Bryan has also received awards for his work, having most recently received a SIGCHI Best Paper Award and a SIGCHI Honorable Mention Award at the ACM CHI Conference–the premier conference on Human-Computer Interaction (more information is available here).

Prior to joining the iSchool, Bryan was a postdoctoral scholar (postdoc) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He obtained his Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Research

Bryan focuses his work to influence and shape the discourses in the broad field of human-computer interaction (HCI). Specifically, the overarching goal of his research is to examine the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in enabling resilience amongst people immersed in challenging contexts (e.g. LGBTQ-identifying individuals “coming out”, veterans seeking mental health care, and people forming a political identity). Resilience is defined as how people bounce back from threat or vulnerability. His approach to this work is sociotechnical—he considers people and their social relations to be intimately bound up in the digital and material technologies they use. Our digital experiences have material, real world impact. He seeks out contexts where he can explore the relationship between technology and resilience and that allow him to better understand how people actively use ICTs in the production of resilience. He especially focuses on those contexts where people might be unable to generate resilience with ICTs, or where the present design of ICTs can produce additional threat or vulnerability in people’s lives (e.g. algorithms, facial recognition software, and social media).

Much of his early scholarship focused on how people draw on ICTs to build resilience during environmental disasters and human-induced emergencies. More recently, he has examined resilience in less dramatic but equally critical contexts, such as when people are forming political identities, or transitioning from one life stage or condition to another (e.g. becoming a parent). The evocation of resilience can also become an everyday experience for people who are systemically marginalized across physical and digital environments; people who are pushed to the boundaries of society based on various intersections of their identity, such as race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.

Like many in HCI, the goal of his empirical, conceptual, and design work is to advance ICTs for the social good. To realize this goal, he employs a sociotechnical approach whereby he explores the complex relationship between ICTs and human behavior by drawing on various social science theories and methods. Specifically, to think about the micro and macro relationships between technology and resilience, and to push for more inclusive and value-sensitive ICT design, his research draws and expands upon theories from various disciplines, such as Science and Technology Studies (STS), Feminist STS (FSTS), Organizational Sciences, Psychology, Trauma and Counseling, Political Science, and more. He integrates qualitative (e.g. ethnography), quantitative (e.g. experiments and surveys), and computational analyses (e.g. NLP, machine learning, and data visualization techniques) to understand the activities of populations immersed in challenging contexts. He also employs participatory and speculative design approaches to uncover complex social processes and effects, and to identify and pursue ICT design opportunities which empower and/or improve the lives of people.

To learn more about specific projects, please navigate to the descriptions available on his website.

To access Bryan’s articles, please navigate to his Google Scholar Profile.

Teaching

Currently, Bryan teaches a range of courses in the greater HCI space to an incredible group of undergraduate and graduate students at the iSchool:

IST 343 – Data in Society

IST 449 – Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

IST 649 – Human Interaction with Computers

IST 830 – Theories of (digital) technologies

Personal

Outside of being a professor and an academic, Bryan also enjoys the following activities (though his time for enjoying these things has been severely limited):

Video Games, Hosting Gatherings with tons of food, Cooking, Basketball, Football, Baseball, Cycling, and Surfing.