Research Areas

This is an overview of the interdisciplinary research areas the CIS students and faculty are engaged in. You might also check the CIS faculty pages for further details.

Astro/Bio/Medical Informatics


Kim Binsted and Rich Gazan are co-investigators in the University of Hawaii NASA Astrobiology Institute's 5-year grant to study life beyond Earth. Kim is also principal investigator of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mars analog habitat on the Big Island ( Rich applies computational methods and principles of computer supported collaboration to support, measure and catalyze interdisciplinary science.

Biomedical Informatics

Research on information technologies (IT) in healthcare covers topic such as EMR (Electronic Medical Record) and the use of IT for clinical images, simulations, diagnosis and treatments. CIS faculty currently working in this field include Dennis Streveler (also eHealth consultant for international organizations), Julia Patriarche, and Nancy Reed.


Guylaine Poisson and Kyungim Baek are principal investigators at the BiL - Bioinformatics Laboratory. BiL's main research projects are related to metagenomics simulation, assembly and annotation, as well as large-scale pathoges detections.

Susanna Still's work in machine learning and information clustering is also applicable to this area.

Computer Systems

Parallel & Distributed Systems

Henri Casanova is the principal investigator of CoRG, a lab for the development of novel simulation models, algorithms, and systems for parallel and distributed computing platforms and applications. Current projects include SimGrid, a toolkit that provides core functionalities for the simulation of distributed applications in heterogeneous distributed environments. SimGrid is a joint effort between the University of Hawaii, LIG Laboratory (INRIA MEScal project, Grenoble, France) and University of Nancy (INRIA Algorille project, Nancy, France).

Information Assurance

Several CIS faculty are currently engaged in IT security research. Ray Panko in the Department of Information Technology Management is currently active in spreadsheet research (SSR) on spreadsheet development, testing, use, and technology, focusing on error and security issues.

The Department of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), in collaboration with Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, ICS faculty and Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC) at the University of Washington has established a Research Center for Information Assurance (RCIA) that consists of Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Edo Biagioni, David Chin, Martha Crosby, Nancy Reed and Philip Johnson. Participating EE faculty include Yingfei Dong, Aleksandar Kavčić, Anthony Kuh and Todd Reed. The RCIA serves as a learning laboratory and test bed for investigations and applications related to the generation, organization, access, preservation, and secure use of digital information. A research focus of the RCIA faculty is on areas that contribute to reliable and secure Internet services, including information security, service availability and quality, and intrusion detection.

Martha Crosby was awarded a two-year NSF grant entitled "Collaborative Project: Teaching Strategic, Operational, and Defensive Cybersecurity to the Next Generation from Sea to Shining Sea," in collaboration with Barbara Endicott-Popovsky and Lance J. Hoffman, from the George Washington University.

Human-Computer Interaction

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has a broad interdisciplinary nature. The following CIS faculty members are working on HCI projects that also extend to other areas:

Kim Binsted - Entertaining and Affective Intelligent Interfaces;

Diane Nahl - Affective Computing, Human-System Interaction, Immersive Virtual HCI;

Scott Robertson - HCI issues in digital democracy, social computing and civic engagement;

Dan Suthers - How representational affordances of interfaces affect collaboration.

Intelligent Agents & Human-Robot Interaction

Nancy Reed is currently active in two funded research projects, the first focuses on developing autonomous agents in software and robotic applications (e.g. one environment examined is the TACSI Tactical Aircraft Simulator developed at Saab, AB), and the second (EASE - An End-user Actor Specification Environment) focuses on using artificial intelligence to support decision making, applications include the diagnosis of congenital heart defects.

Other CIS faculty currently working in the Intelligent Agents & Human-Robot Interaction area include Susanna Still and David Chin.

Adaptive Interfaces

Martha Crosby is currently researching different types of physiological measures used to assess the computer userís cognitive state. Recent work includes HCI applications of eye tracking and the pressures applied when using a computer mouse.

Information Systems and Services

Data Management

The data management field has become increasingly interdisciplinary. Among the CIS faculty working in this field are Luz Quiroga (information filtering) and Lipyeow Lim (ontologies, real-time data warehousing, and multi-core data processing).

Digital Librarianship

Peter Jacso focuses on digital librarianship, search engines and user interfaces, investigating in particular citation indexing and journal impact factor calculation.

Learning Models and Information Literacy Instruction

Violet Harada focuses on how effective learning models are incorporated into guided instruction for 21st century information skills. She also studies how such models influence the implementation of professional development for adult learners working in K-12 school settings.

History of Libraries

Andrew Wertheimer's research interests fall in the areas of information science, library history, and Japanese-American print culture. He is currently working on projects related to prewar and wartime Japanese American print culture, including community libraries in Americaís Concentration Camps, in 1942-1946. In addition, he is researching the history of libraries in Hawaii, Asian American librarians, library and information sciences education, and the relationship between collection management and changes in publishing.

Information Equity

Rae-Anne Montague's user-centered work emphasizes service to underserved populations. Her research interests span several areas of education (inquiry, K12 librarianship, learning communities, and online education) and social justice (critical theory, literacy, and youth advocacy). Montague serves as principal investigator for Mix IT Up! - a collaborative project designed to train LIS students as youth advocates. She is also convener for the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) LGBTQ Users special interest group (SIG).

Information Behaviors

Diane Nahl and Luz Quiroga direct the Information Research Lab, dedicated to studying information behavior, information literacy, affective computing, database design and digital libraries.

Information Technology Management

Service Engineering

Hong-Mei Chen and Rick Kazman conduct research in the emerging field of SSME (Service Science, Management and Engineering). The field's vision is to discover the underlying logic of complex service systems and to establish a common language and shared frameworks for service innovation. To this end, an interdisciplinary approach is adopted for research on service systems.

Swarm Intelligence

Gary Fontaine is currently studying global swarming of multinational enterprises, an emergent phenomenon supported by networking technologies.

Green IT

Social Web, Gamification and Energy Behaviors

Philip Johnson and the researchers of the Collaborative Software Development Lab are developing a social game website for a UH residence hall energy competition. The competition aims to raise energy literacy (have a tangible sense of energy consumption) and support sustained energy saving behaviors. The project has been awarded an NSF grant and works at the intersection between computer science, HCI, Smart Grid (IT enhanced electricity network) and serious games research.

Eco-Efficient Decision Making

Dan Port and his research group are developing a framework to enable evaluation of the return on investment for green server farms, their associated risks, and necessary decision making criteria.

Social Informatics

Computer Supported Collaboration

Dan Suthers is Principal Investigator of Traces, a project funded by the NSF VOSS program, that is building a theoretical foundation for analysis, a data model, and software tools to trace out the movements, confluences, and transformations of people and ideas in online social networks.

Liz Davidson investigates blogging as discursive activity and critical analysis of technology discourse in general.

Diane Nahl studies information literacy in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Rich Gazan's work addresses how people integrate diverse types of knowledge, both in social computing environments such as social question answering (social Q&A) communities, and in interdisciplinary scientific collaborations.

Scott Robertson's research focuses on how social networks mediate political discourse, integrating HCI and social informatics issues to support civic affairs.

Computer Supported Learning

Curtis Ho is currently researching on distant learning and hybrid classrooms, particularly in the Pacific area.

David Ashworth is currently working on Japanese telecommunications, learning technology and distance learning, particularly in the framework of Japanese studies.

Dan Suthers' work with colleagues and students at the LILT lab has included several projects focusing specifically on collaborative learning, including Belvedere, Collaborative Representations and Traces. The Traces project analyses years of interactions from Tapped In, a community for professional development and collaboration between people interested in K-12 education.