jessica vitak sunglassesI’m an assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s iSchool and an affiliate professor in UMD’s Communication Department. My research is currently 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 they get from use), but I am not actively working in these spaces as of 2018.

Within these broad categories, my research is largely focused on the “human” part of human-computer interaction, 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.

At Maryland, I am a affiliate faculty member of the HCI Lab (HCIL) and, as of fall 2016, am the Associate Director of the Lab. HCIL is the oldest HCI research lab in the U.S., celebrating 35 years in 2018. The HCIL hosts a symposium to share the lab’s research each spring–I strongly encourage you to check it out. I am also the Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) and am affiliated with the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2) on campus.

If you are a student interested in applying to Maryland’s iSchool for your PhD studies and are interested in working with me, or 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] I’m especially happy to speak to the press about social media issues related to relationship/friendship practices, managing your identity online, data privacy, and big data ethics.

Where to find me online: