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As the University of Hawaiʻi transitioned to online classes due to the COVID-19 situation, departments strived to be innovative with opportunities they provided students. Initially designed as an in-person event to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the UH Mānoa Communication and Information Sciences PhD program, the research conference was moved online bringing together four departments from three colleges.

more than a dozen zoom conference screens

The virtual conference on April 24, highlighted research in the internet technology, management and policy spaces, and was organized by PhD students Alicia Takaoka and Yiting Wang. It featured students, faculty and alumni from three countries. Trisha Lin, an associate dean for research in Taiwan and Chamil Rathnayake, a lecturer in media and communication in the UK, were among the UH alumni keynote presenters.

“Students saw the strength of our alumni network,” CIS Program Chair and School of Communications Professor Jenifer Winter said. “Students mentioned that their research and career aspirations were inspired by these interactions. And, of course, our alumni enjoyed interacting with students and professors.”

“As we planned the event, we sought to welcome the uncertainty about what would be happening in our lives on the day of the conference and create a relaxed feel that would be welcoming, no matter our circumstances. Among our attendees were alumni in New York City, the Bay Area and other areas under particular stress due to COVID-19,” Winter added.

The CIS program spans four departments across three colleges and is jointly administered by Information and Computer Sciences (natural sciences), Library and Information Science (natural sciences), School of Communications (social sciences) and Information Technology Management (Shidler College of Business). Since 1986, the CIS program has awarded 110 PhD degrees and has produced a distinguished list of alumni, including UH President David Lassner, who are focused on the interdisciplinary study of information and communication technologies in their broader social, political and economic contexts.

For more information on the conference, see the CIS website.

—By Marc Arakaki

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