The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is pleased to announce two new Senior Research Fellows, Dr Safiya Noble and Professor Balazs Vedres, who will be joining the OII in 2019. “We are thrilled to welcome Drs. Noble and Vedres to Oxford,” says Professor Phil Howard, Director of the OII. “Their unique expertise in studying the impact of technology and innovation on public life will be a fantastic addition to our multidisciplinary community.”

Dr Safiya Umoja Noble will join the OII from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Safiya’s research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the Internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology design. She is currently visiting at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Communication, and is on the faculty of the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and the Department of African American Studies at UCLA. Previously, she was in Media and Cinema Studies and the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), and was the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award.

Professor Balazs Vedres will join the OII from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University, where he is the founding director of the Centre for Network Science, offering only the second PhD programme in Network Science in the world. His research furthers the agenda of understanding historical dynamics in network systems, combining insights from network science, economic sociology, historical sociology, and studies of complexity in physics and biology. Recent research includes following video game developers and jazz musicians as they weave collaborative networks through their projects and recording sessions, as well as working to understand gender inequality in online collaborative platforms. Balazs is an elected member of the European Academy of Sociology, and has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University, a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, and a recipient of the American Journal of Sociology’s Roger V. Gould Prize.

“Dr Noble is a pioneer in the critical study of algorithms, and Dr Vedres has done path-breaking work on the structure of social networks,” said Howard.  “Bringing them to the University of Oxford will give our students access to the most advanced theories and toolkits. It takes many kinds of qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods, crafted ethically, to understand how we socialize, how we learn, and how we can solve social problems through new information technologies. Noble and Vedres are global leaders in this research.”

Balazs will take up his new role from January 2019, while Safiya will join the OII in June 2019.