About Me                                       

My current research interests lie in:
  • computational science education (in both the traditional fields like computer science and in the non-traditional fields, like the social sciences).
  • information seeking behavior on information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially via online social networks, 
  • networked communities, social media and the use of computational analysis of large data sets (Big Data). 
My research often comprises of building electronic and/or web-based programmable data collection tools and capturing subjects’ behavior as they interact with these tools.

I want to better understand why and how we connect online, especially through the lens of online communities and social media. Specifically, I am interested in designing and using social media tools in novel ways to help us understand new and interesting things about ourselves, our social networks, our communities, and our neighborhoods. My research design approach is anchored in the quantitative end of things, but I also employ some qualitative approaches too.

At my core, I am an educator, an engineer, and a social technologist. I design, build, and study systems that support social interactions in online spaces and try to understand what it says about human behavior around technology. I am passionate about teaching technology to EVERYONE and see a continued huge demand by people of different work and educational backgrounds wanting to learn computational technologies like coding, system building, and data analysis. I aim to address all of this as I forge my way through my career in academia.

My educational background (before the PhD) is in electrical engineering (EE) and the liberal arts. I've worked in industry for over a dozen years - mostly in high speed digital communication system design and marketing. It's nice to go back to a place where intellectual analysis and the pursuit of new knowledge go hand in hand so well. 

My foray into academia started as a teaching assistant and then adjunct faculty in several academic institutions before I enrolled in the Information Science PhD program at Rutgers University. I earned my PhD from the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) at Rutgers in 2018.

My hobbies include music composition & performance, cooking, and international travel.


Ph.D., Information Science, Rutgers University, 2018
MSEE, University of Southern California, 1996
BSEE, University of Southern California, 1994
BA, Liberal Arts, St. Mary's College of California, 1994

Major Research Interests

* Human Information Behavior around Social Media
* Social Networks
* Socio-Computing
* Information System Design
* People as Sources of Data

                    Ziad Matni, Ph.D.                        
Lecturer / Researcher
Department of Communication
Department of Computer Science
University of California, Santa Barbara

My Work

I am currently a lecturer at UCSB in both the Computer Science  and Communication departments, teaching a variety of courses from social networks to computer programming. I currently teach the following undergraduate courses at UCSB:
  • CMPSC 8: Introduction to Computer Science
  • CMPSC 16: Solving Problems with C++, 1
  • CMPSC 64: Computer Organization and Digital Logic Design
  • CMPSC 111: Introduction to Computational Science
  • CMPSC 154: Computer Architecture
  • COMM 160DS: Data Science use in Communication Research
  • COMM 169: Social Networks
  • COMM 88: Research Methods

I earned my Ph.D. from the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) at Rutgers University. My dissertation is titled "The Influence of Network Structures and Information Seeking Uncertainty on Information Seeking Behavior" and bridges a current scholarly gap between information seeking behavior and social network. My approach of considering concepts from communication, information science, game theory, and sociology in a computational approach is a concise way of saying who I am as a scholar.

My research interests are in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), including social media tools, as information sources (to tell us about both individuals and organizations) and understanding human behavior around that. Current and past projects include work on:
  • Building communities for transforming social media research using an information extraction and analysis system, dubbed "SOCRATES", with Professor Chirag Shah as part of the InfoSeeking Lab at SC&I, 
  • Studying the social network characteristics of organizations as they recover from disasters with Professors Marya Doerfel and Matthew Weber as part of the Network Science Lab at SC&I, and 
  • "CityBeat" with Professor Mor Naaman, that looks to learn about geographic communities using social media sources in real-time.
I have also taught courses at SC&I in the Information Technology and Informatics undergraduate program, and in the Master of Information program. Additionally, I've taught undergraduate electrical engineering courses at Rutgers, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), and at The University of Southern California (USC).

I enjoy being actively involved in academic life. In the recent past, I've been: 
* SC&I's doctoral student association's treasurer & webmaster (2012 - '15)
* Rutgers ASIST chapter (RUASIST) treasurer (2013 - '14)
* New Jersey ASIST chapter (NJASIST) treasurer (2014 - '16)
* Peer mentor to incoming doctoral students at Rutgers (throughout)

Website last updated: 10/1/20