BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

BITlab
404 Wilson Rd. Room 251
Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Student Research in the BITLab

Students at all levels (undergraduate, masters, and doctoral) working in the BITLab contribute to research projects which focus on improving our understanding of how technology and people affect each other. Students working in our lab gain experience working as part of an interdisciplinary team, and help to guide the research being conducted as they design and test their own approaches and solutions to problems.

The majority of our research projects are team-based and involve both technical computer science and social / behavioral components:

We are open to working with students at all levels. PhD students at MSU should contact the individual faculty directly. Both paid work and work for independent study credit are available. We generally do not work with students on a volunteer basis.

General Opportunities  

We are always looking for students to work with who are talented, interested in learning about how to do research, and who want to contribute to our ongoing projects. If this describes you, please contact us. Your email should include your resume or CV, a copy of your unofficial MSU transcript, and a paragraph or two describing how your interests complement or align with the projects going on in the lab.

You should make an argument about how you will contribute to one or more of the BITLab research projects if you joined the lab, and support your argument with evidence about your skills, knowledge, qualifications, interests, experience, etc. “It would be a great experience for me” is not an argument about how you would contribute to the work going on in the lab, because it does not provide any information we can use to evaluate whether you would be a good team member, or whether you would be able to make a productive contribution to our projects.

You can read about the work we are doing in the lab below and throughout our website. If you are unsure about how to make an argument in a job or internship application based on your background and skills, talk to the Communication Arts & Sciences career services office or the career services office in your home department or college at MSU for advice.

If you are an undergraduate student at another university, there are two ways to be involved with our lab. First, most summers we offer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) positions that will be advertised here. These are open to any undergraduate student who is a citizen or permanent resident in the United States. Second, you can apply to the Media and Information Studies PhD program.

Current Projects

Security Behavior What do people do to protect their computer and data from security threats? Is what they do effective? In this project we are analyzing data about different types of security behaviors people engage in on their own computers, to determine how effective those behaviors actually are.

Online Communities How do people decide whether they should participate in an online community like Facebook, Wikipedia, or Reddit? What do they pay attention to? What information do they seek out? In this project, we are trying to understand decision-making about online participation, and how these communities grow and change.

Privacy and Derived Data What social norms are there for sharing and use personal information that can be inferred about people as they use devices with sensors in them, like activity trackers, connected thermostats, and mobile phones? In this project, we are investigating norms for acceptable uses of derived data, so that we can develop and evaluate tools to support collective privacy management decisions.

Algorithmic Curation What is the role of filtering and recommendation algorithms in shaping what we read online from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? How does this affect what we contribute and communicate about online?  In this project we are working to understand the social and technical forces that shape information access and use in an increasingly personalized online environment.