Communication Studies professor wins early career development award

January 25, 2010

Communication studies assistant professor Darren Gergle has been awarded the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. He is the first faculty member from the School of Communication to receive this honor.

The CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Issued through the NSF's Division of Information & Intelligent Systems, Gergle's CAREER award was given to his project titled, "A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Next Generation of Collaborative Technologies." Over the course of five years, Gergle will receive more than $485,000 to conduct research in the area of collaborative technologies.

"The goal of this research is to facilitate the development of the next generation of collaborative technologies," Gergle said. "Previous approaches are fraught with failures that are due, in part, to a lack of attention to the coordination mechanisms humans use during everyday collaborative activities. This work takes a human-centered design approach that seeks to develop a detailed understanding of the ways that humans coordinate in real world interactions and then use that understanding to develop novel technologies."

Real-life applications range from telesurgery systems to distance education systems to interactive museum experiences, he said.

In addition to the CAREER award, Gergle also recently received Northwestern's 2009 Clarence Ver Steeg Graduate Faculty Award for excellence in work with graduate students. Gergle was one of about 50 junior faculty members from the U.S. and China invited to share his research at a "Frontiers of Science Symposium" as a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow last year.

"Darren Gergle is among our most exciting young faculty members," said Barbara O'Keefe, dean of the School of Communication. "His research is truly on the leading edge of twenty-first century social science."

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