Ryen W. White (Microsoft Research) (2014 Karen Spärck Jones Award Recipient)

Mining and Modeling Online Health Search

Abstract: People frequently search the Web for health information and this can have significant consequences for their health and wellbeing. Over the past few years, in collaboration with colleagues, I have been exploring various aspects of online health search. Our research has focused on a number of areas, ranging from characterizing aspects of general health seeking via search engine log data (and user studies / surveys), examining potential anxieties and biases which may arise during health search, and the application of population-scale analyses of health search activity for monitoring and improving public health. In this talk, I will discuss some highlights of our research in this area, with a focus on four aspects: (1) patterns of health search within sessions and over time, including self-diagnosis and “web-to-world” transitions from health search to the pursuit of professional medical attention; (2) anxieties in health search, including evidence of escalations in health concerns during searching (so-called “cyberchondria”), and searcher preferences for potentially alarming content; (3) biases in both searcher cognition and in online health content; and (4) applications of aggregated health search query log data in scenarios such as monitoring nutritional intake in populations and detecting adverse drug reactions and interactions. The talk will underscore the criticality of research in health search and present opportunities for further work in this area. More broadly, I will also discuss related challenges and opportunities in behavioral analysis and search result provision that have implications far beyond the health search domain.

Dr. Ryen White is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research. His research interests lie in understanding search interaction and in developing tools to help people search more effectively. He received his Ph.D. in Interactive Information Retrieval from the Department of Computing Science, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, in 2004. Ryen has published many conference papers and journal articles in Web search, log analysis, and user studies of search systems. He has received eight best-paper awards in conferences and journals, including at ACM SIGIR (2007, 2010, and 2013), ACM CIKM (2014), ACM SIGCHI (2011), and in JASIST (2010). His doctoral research received the British Computer Society’s (BCS) Distinguished Dissertation Award for the best Computer Science Ph.D. dissertation in the United Kingdom in 2004/2005. In 2014, Ryen received the Microsoft BCS/BCS IRSG Karen Spärck Jones Award for contributions to Information Retrieval. He has co-organized many workshops on information seeking, especially exploratory search, including an NSF-sponsored invitational workshop, and has guest co-edited special issues in these areas for a variety of outlets, including Communications of the ACM and IEEE Computer. From 2008-2013, Ryen co-organized the HCIR Symposium. He has served as area chair for top conferences such as SIGIR, WSDM, WWW, and CIKM, and currently serves on the editorial board of ACM TOIS, ACM TWEB, the Information Retrieval Journal, and other journals. Ryen chairs the steering committee for the ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR, He is short papers co-chair of SIGIR 2015 and PC co-chair of SIGIR 2017. In addition to academic impact, Ryen’s research has shipped in many Microsoft products, including Bing, Xbox, Internet Explorer, and Lync.

Marti A. Hearst (UC Berkeley)

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: Suggestions for Search Research

Abstract: What’s even more fun than doing search research? Suggesting what other people should do search research on! So in this talk I will pose suggestions about what I dream of seeing in next year’s ECIR list of accepted papers. Topics will include Orphan Search Problems, Should Have Been Solved Years Ago, Solved When We Weren’t Looking, Hard But of Increasing Importance, and the Upcoming Text Divide.

Dr. Marti Hearst is a professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley with an affiliate appointment in the CS department. Her primary research interests are user interfaces for search engines, information visualization, natural language processing, and improving MOOCs. She wrote the first academic book on Search User Interfaces. Prof. Hearst was named a Fellow of the ACM in 2013 and has received an NSF CAREER award, an IBM Faculty Award, two Google Research Awards, three Excellence in Teaching Awards, and has been principal investigator for more than $3.5M in research grants. Prof. Hearst has served on the Advisory Council of NSF’s CISE Directorate and is currently on the Web Board for CACM, member of the Usage Panel for the American Heritage Dictionary, and on the panel of experts. She is on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction and was formerly on the boards of ACM Transactions on the Web, Computational Linguistics, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, and IEEE Intelligent Systems. Prof. Hearst received BA, MS, and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley, and she was a Member of the Research Staff at Xerox PARC from 1994 to 1997.

Stefan Thurner (Medical University of Vienna)

What to Do If You Know Everything? Studying Human Behavior in a Virtual World

Abstract: We use a massive multiplayer online game to study human interactions and social behaviour. We have complete information on every action carried out by each of the 480.000 players in the game. This complete information on a human society, in particular its time varying social networks of several types allows us to quantify how humans form social bounds, how humans organise, how behaviour is gender specific, and how wealth of players is related to positions in their social multiplex networks.

Dr. Stefan Thurner is full professor for Science of Complex Systems at the Medical University of Vienna. Since 2007 he is external professor at the Santa Fe Institute and since 2010 a part time researcher at IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis). He obtained a PhD in theoretical physics from the Technical University of Vienna, a second PhD in economics from the University of Vienna and his habilitation in theoretical physics. Thurner has published more than 170 scientific articles in fundamental physics, applied mathematics, complex systems, network theory, evolutionary systems, life sciences, economics and lately in social sciences. He holds 2 patents. Thurner has (co-)organized many international workshops, conferences and summer schools, and has himself presented more than 200 talks. His work has received broad interest from the media such as the New York Times, BBC world, Nature, New Scientist, Physics World and is featured in more than 400 newspaper, radio and television reports. He has coordinated many national and international research projects, and is part in many European science initiatives. Thurner serves as a member of many scientific and editorial boards.