Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Sept. 18

Navajo computing student earns conference scholarship from Google
Arizona State University student Lisa Tsosie helps develop tool to identify online bullying

Lisa Tsosie is developing her skills at both computing and writing through her coursework in Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She used both sets of skills in writing an abstract that earned her a scholarship from Google to attend the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Submitted photo

Lisa Tsosie is developing her skills at both computing and writing through her coursework in Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She used both sets of skills in writing an abstract that earned her a scholarship from Google to attend the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Submitted photo

Arizona State University (ASU) student Lisa Tsosie earned a Google Women of Color Scholarship to attend the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Oct. 2-5 in Minneapolis.

Tsosie helped develop a tool to assist parents in identifying bullying of adolescents on Facebook, Tsosie was one of more than 900 applicants for the scholarship.

The annual GHC conferences are designed to help advance the careers and research of women in computing. Leaders in industry, academia and government make presentations, while special sessions focus on the role of women in today's technology fields, including computer science, information technology, research and engineering. This year's featured speakers include Sheryl Sandberg from Google and Ana Pinczuk from Cisco Systems.

Tsosie is a junior majoring in applied computing through ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus. Yasin Silva, assistant professor in New College's School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, encouraged Tsosie to apply for the scholarship.

Silva and Tsosie worked together to produce the abstract "Facebully: Towards the Identification of Cyberbullying in Facebook," which was selected for presentation at GHC. But Tsosie didn't expect to be able to attend.

"I didn't get my hopes up because I didn't think I'd be able to afford the trip, so I assumed Dr. Silva would be traveling and presenting our results," she said. "I was definitely proud and encouraged that the committee wanted me to present a poster on our research and had rated our abstract so positively."

The Google scholarship made it possible for Tsosie to attend the conference.

"My understanding is that the conference is all about reaching out to women in technology, and I feel privileged to be a part of this celebration," said Tsosie, whose ethnic heritage is Navajo and Romanian. "I hope that I can expand my female professional network from participating, and that by sharing my experience, I might draw other women into this field as well."

Tsosie describes cyberbullying as the most common online risk for adolescents. She and Silva have been working on the "Facebully" project since her sophomore year.

"Our main goal is to design and implement a model to identify cyberbullying in Facebook, building on previous research findings in the areas of traditional and cyberbullying with adolescents," Silva said. "The model uses social media data including content of posts, changes of schools or neighborhoods, and variations in social interaction patterns such as sudden significant increase in the number of posts, to compute a Bullying Rank function. A high value of this function indicates high probability that an individual is experiencing cyberbullying. Once the application is ready for deployment, it can be used by parents to monitor their children via their social network and give them knowledge of whether their child is a victim of online aggression."

Tsosie added, "While previous research has identified the different measures of cyberbullying through venues more frequently utilized to mediate online aggression, like mobile devices and chat rooms, there has been a limited amount of research in the area of automatic identification of cyberbullying in social media sites, particularly in Facebook."

In addition to presenting the "Facebully" research poster at the GHC conference next month, Tsosie has co-authored what Silva describes as two high-quality publications and is also a co-author in a third paper currently under submission. Portions of Tsosie's research were funded by two grants from the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities (WAESO).

"Lisa's outstanding record on research is rare for an undergraduate student," Silva said. "She is both a highly skilled and very hardworking young researcher."

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