Karen E. Fisher, Professor at the Information School, University of Washington

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Karen E. Fisher | Professor at the Information School, University of Washington

Karen is a Professor at the Information School, and Adjunct Professor in the Communication Department at the University of Washington. She is also a Consultant for UNHCR Jordan, Visiting Professor at the Open Lab, Newcastle University, U.K., and Adjunct Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland. An advocate of humanitarian research, her passion is how HCI-industry-NGO collaborations can improve lives around the world and build futures. Her top priority is working with Syrian youth to increase educational opportunity, livelihoods and social connectedness at the UNHCR Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Parallel fieldwork focuses on Arab refugees in Europe, understanding their information behavior and the economic impacts of migration. With a mantra of “Youth First,” Karen’s InfoMe group conducts in situ, co-design workshops with teens around the world and across the U.S., to understand how youth feel about social justice, and how they help families, friends and institutions by serving as ICT wayfarers, and are redefining information and the nature of information work through visual media.

Dr. Fisher is renowned for her development and use of theory and methods for understanding information problems, specifically on how people experience information as part of everyday life, with emphasis on the interpersonal aspects and the role of informal social settings or “Information Grounds.” With colleagues Karen has spearheaded several landmark projects, including the U.S. Impact Study (with Crandall and Becker) of how people use technology in public libraries across the U.S. Her Theories of Information Behavior (2005, with S. Erdelez & L. McKechnie) remains the top-selling monograph at www.ASIST.org, with numerous papers in most cited lists about how people engage with information. With a PhD in Information Science from the University of Western Ontario and Post Doc from the University of Michigan, Karen’s current and recent work is supported by the UNHCR, Google, the National Science Foundation, Amazon, the LEGO Foundation, Microsoft, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Way, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.