James Howison, a 2009 graduate of the doctoral program at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University has been selected to receive the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program award. 

The award will support his project, “CAREER: Sustaining Scientific Infrastructure: Researching Transition from Grants to Peer Production,” and brings over $500,000 in funding to the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, where Howison is an assistant professor.

The NSF honor recognizes pre-tenured faculty who exemplify the role of teachers and scholars by integrating programs of research, education and curriculum development.

“It’s exciting to know that this research project is seen by peers and the National Science Foundation to be of value,” Howison said. “Best known from open source software development, peer production is a promising way to sustain software, yet peer production projects are run differently than grant funded projects through the NSF and other agencies. We are researching how projects successfully change to thrive after their original grants end. Our research builds on what is already known about peer production outside science by seeing how and when it succeeds in science.” 

Howison’s research interests revolve around understanding the scientific software ecosystem, in particular examining the incentive issues in software work in science as they relate to architecture. 

At Syracuse, Howison’s doctoral work was advised by Professor Kevin Crowston, and his dissertation examined the work of free and open source software developers and developed a theory called ‘collaboration through superposition.’ The dissertation was awarded first runner up in the 2009 ICIS/ACM SIGMIS Dissertation Award competition in addition to a Syracuse University Graduate School Dissertation Award.

After receiving his Ph.D., Howison served as a postdoctoral associate at the Institute for Software Research at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science before joining the University of Texas in 2011.