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UMSI doctoral candidate Jane Im named Barbour Scholar

"Rackham Graduate School Barbour Scholar, Jane Im, PhD Candidate." Headshot of Jane Im inside a award ribbon graphic.

Tuesday, 05/17/2022

Jane Im, joint doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information and Computer Science and Engineering, is one of six 2022 awardees of the prestigious University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School Barbour Scholarship.

Among the oldest and most prestigious awards granted by U-M, the award was established by Regent Levi Barbour in 1917. The Barbour Scholarship supports women from Asia and the Middle East who have come to U-M in pursuit of an advanced degree. This year’s cohort marks 105 years of academic excellence across a breadth of disciplines.

Im researches how consent can be better incorporated into social media platforms. Currently, social platforms have integrity problems, including online harassment and surveillance. These issues can cause harm to user’s safety and agency. 

She is tackling these issues by working from the ground up. Im says she uses a feminist theoretical framework of affirmative consent — an enthusiastic form of agreement — as a foundation for designing safer social systems. 

Im plans on researching how affirmative consent can be backed into social systems’ business models, privacy features and governance. The goal of the work is to allow people to enthusiastically engage with platforms, while platforms better protect user’s safety. 

Im says the scholarship will provide funding so she can fully focus on her research over the next year. “Being selected as a Barbour Scholar is an important chance for me to think deeply about the history of women scholars from Asia and the Middle East and what kind of difference I want to make as a scholar,” says Im. 

In the future, Im hopes to pursue a career in academia as a professor either in the U.S. or South Korea. 

“Academia still tends to silence academics from marginalized groups in explicit and subtle ways. Before applying for the scholarship, I was thinking a lot about how to resist such a culture,” she says. “Being selected felt like someone was encouraging me at the right moment to keep my uniqueness and voice as an Asian woman researcher. I'm incredibly thankful to have a chance to learn from other Barbour Scholars.”

Sarah Derouin, UMSI public relations specialist

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Learn more about doctoral candidate Jane Im.

Read more about the Barbour Scholarship