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Saguna Shankar to Receive 2024 ASIS&T Doctoral Dissertation Award

The Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) is delighted to announce that Saguna Shankar, PhD is the 2024 recipient of the ASIS&T Doctoral Dissertation Award for their dissertation titled, "Caring for Newcomer Communities and their Data: An Inquiry into Interdependence in Information Practices."

The award’s purpose is to recognize outstanding recent doctoral candidates whose research contributes significantly to an understanding of some aspect of information science. The award is intended to encourage participation of new PhDs in the activities of a professional association by providing a forum for the presentation of their research and assisting them with some travel support.

Shankar, whose doctoral work was conducted at the University of British Columbia, was selected as the winner from among a pool of outstanding candidates who were judged based on these criteria: Importance of the topic to theory development and/or practical applications in information science; soundness of methodology; organization and clarity of the presentation; and quality of data (when applicable).

The award citation reads, “This robust dissertation examines the interdependent information practices among service providers in various domains caring for newcomer communities in Canada. Fourteen semi-structured interviews that the author analyzed using storytelling and reflexive thematic analysis inform findings. The significant strengths of the dissertation are its extensive review of relevant literature across LIS and science and technology studies and the clear case for the study's significance based on existing gaps. Another strength is the multiple modes of analysis, which lead to a broader and more interpersonal interpretation, reframing information practices practiced by people in shared social settings and as parts of larger systems, including institutions and technologies. Also impressive is the creativity of the cards the author created to engender dialog between groups providing services for newcomer communities, with scenarios and prompts connected to the research findings.”

Shankar’s advisor, Lisa Nathan, PhD wrote the following in support of Saguna’s submission: “The digital document that represents Shankar’s dissertation  project provides evidence of the intellectual rigor and personal commitment with which the research was carried out. From the beginning of her doctoral program Shankar remained steadfast to her commitment to improve the experience of those negotiating the settlement process as they attempt to thrive in the nation-state of Canada. One of the qualities that make Shankar’s work stand out is the explicit recognition that the creation of knowledge and expertise are not the sole purview of academic researchers. Shankar worked for years to move into a position that enabled learning with and from differently positioned settlement practitioners who hold so much insight and knowledge concerning the stewarding of information throughout the Canadian settlement process.”

Upon learning of her selection as the 2024 ASIS&T Doctoral Dissertation Award, Shankar said, “I am delighted to receive this support. My sincere thanks to the ASIS&T community and awards jury, and to the mentors, colleagues, and friends I have learned from and had the joy of sharing time with over the many years it takes to write a dissertation."

Shankar will receive their award at the 2024 meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) which will be held 25-29 in Calgary, AB, Canada.