UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Carleen Maitland, associate professor of information sciences and technology in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, is the recipient of Penn State's 2019 Faculty Outreach Award.
Maitland is 2019 recipient of Faculty Outreach Award
The award honors the faculty member who positively and substantially affected individuals, organizations or communities by extending their scholarship to address pressing social, civic, economic, or environmental needs.
Maitland’s research brings life-enhancing information and communications technologies to marginalized communities. She works with the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations (e.g. NetHope), and industry to address critical global issues. Maitland and her students conduct sociotechnical analyses in projects in numerous places including the Middle East and Africa, working with the United Nations (UN), the U.S. State Department and others.
Maitland, co-director of the Institute for Information Policy, highlighted the potential for small-scale data science within refugee communities. Working with the UN Refugee Agency, she trained Syrian refugees in Jordan and Burundian refugees in Rwanda on community data management.
In conjunction with a U.S. State Department program, she devised a system to assess mobile network coverage for more than 300,000 refugees at three camps in Uganda. This work resulted in an ongoing effort to enhance refugees’ access to electricity, the internet and educational programs.
“Her work improving mobile technology connectivity for refugees helps them stay in touch with their families left behind in war-torn countries, as well as adjust to new circumstances in the host country,” a nominator said. “Her work helps individuals, families, communities and larger societies — an impressive scale of contributions.”
Maitland’s work and leadership roles marry scholarship and practice. In addition to serving as a board member of the UN University for Computing and Society, she provides policy advice for UN organizations based on her research. As a member and former board chair of the Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (commonly referred to as TPRC), she advises governments, industry and others on broadband infrastructure development.
“The impacts of her work to the targeted communities are highly significant because the nonprofit and humanitarian organizations she works with are typically slow in adopting new technologies,” a nominator said. “Instead of fostering the adoption of yesterday’s technologies, she enables the marginalized communities to not only have access to emerging and mature technologies but to also use them to address the critical needs of the community.”