Hello! Welcome to my not-so-frequently updated personal website. I’m an associate professor in the University of Maryland’s iSchool and an affiliate professor in UMD’s Communication Department and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). I’m currently the Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL), and I’m also affiliated with the Social Data Science Center (SoDA).
My research is divided into two primary research areas: (1) networked privacy and (2) pervasive data ethics. I also have a long history of studying the social impacts of new technologies (primarily how people use social media platforms, and the benefits and harms they face when using these platforms), but this is no longer the primary thrust of my research agenda.
Within these broad categories, my research is largely focused on the “human” part of human-computer interaction and the “social” part of social computing, as I am interested in understanding underlying motivations for user behaviors as well as how users interpret and engage with technologies when sharing data about themselves, the risks they perceive to adopting or engaging with new technologies, and how developers, researchers, and policymakers can do a better job of conveying critical information to consumers to aid in decision-making processes around technology. Visit my research lab, the Privacy Education and Research Lab (PEARL), to learn more about the various research projects I am involved in, and see my CV page for PDFs of my published research.
If you are a student interested in applying to Maryland’s iSchool for your PhD studies and are interested in working with me, you can email me before submitting an application to the iSchool if you have any questions about my research or the program in general. Currently, I am only able to support students who are interested in doing research on privacy/surveillance/ethics, as all my funding is connected to one or more of these areas. Note that for the 2023 admissions cycle, it is unlikely I will be taking on any new advisees.
if you are a journalist researching an article and would like to speak with me, the best way to reach me is through email at jvitak[at]umd.edu. I’m especially happy to speak to the press about data privacy broadly, specific issues of data privacy and technology, consumer use of surveillance technologies like smart speakers and IoT devices, data ethics, and online harassment.