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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI to welcome first Michigan Society of Fellows postdoctoral fellow

Tuesday, 03/30/2021

Jeff Sheng
Jeff Sheng

The Michigan Society of Fellows (MSF) has selected four new members from more than 900 applications to serve three-year appointments as postdoctoral fellows and assistant professors, beginning this fall.

Among them is Jeff Sheng, the University of Michigan School of Information’s first MSF postdoctoral fellow. 

The fellows were chosen for the importance and quality of their scholarship and for their interest in interdisciplinary work.

During their tenure at the University of Michigan they will teach selected courses in their affiliated departments and continue their scholarly research.

Sheng is a sociologist who focuses on the role that online technologies have on interpersonal interactions, particularly how social media and online connectivity shape social movements, culture, organizations, and individual outcomes. His dissertation examines the role that the internet has had on contemporary LGBT social movements and cultural change, using LGBT military inclusion from 2009 to 2019 as a case study. 

He has also collaborated with technology companies, namely with Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, in research understanding online tie formation through social computing platforms. A paper from a six-month research project with them that uses computational social science, quantitative and qualitative methods, was recently published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2020).

Along with his PhD in Sociology at Stanford (expected 2021), he completed a Master of Science (MS) degree in Computer Science with a dual track specialization in Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interaction, with a Certificate in Computational Social Science from the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford. 

Prior to enrolling in his doctoral program, he worked as a professional artist and photographer, and his ethnographic photographs that are integrated in his dissertation were published in the Spring 2020 issue of Contexts, with one being the cover.

Also selected in the 2021 Michigan Society of Fellows cohort are:

  • Roberto Márquez — Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA; University of Chicago; Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Márquez is an evolutionary biologist whose research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that drive the origin of biological diversity.
  • Vyta Pivo — A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; George Washington University; “The Gospel of Concrete: American Infrastructure and Global Power”; Visual Culture of Climate Change. Pivo studies the intersecting histories of architecture, mineral extraction and capitalism.
  • Jessica Ruffin — Department of Film, Television, and Media, LSA; University of California, Berkeley; A World Divided: Schopenhauer, Aesthetics, and Cinematic Experience; “The Will-to-Breathe.” Ruffin is completing her PhD at UC, Berkeley in film and media, with designated emphasis in critical theory.

The Michigan Society of Fellows was founded in 1970 with grants from the Ford Foundation and Horace H. and Mary Rackham Funds. It provides financial and intellectual support to individuals selected for professional promise and interdisciplinary interests.

Competition for the fellowships is open to eligible candidates in the physical and life sciences, engineering, social sciences, education, the humanities and the arts.

Read more in The University Record.