is a 2022 Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Information Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She was the founding chair of the Department of Information Science, which launched in 2015. In 2016, she was elected to the ACM CHI Academy.
She is a faculty fellow with the Institute of Cognitive Science. From 2012-2017, Palen was a full adjunct professor at the University of Agder in Norway.
Palen is a leader in the area of crisis informatics, an area she forged with her graduate students and colleagues at Colorado. She brings her training in human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work and social computing to bear on understanding and advancing socio-technical issues of societal import. She conducts empirical research in the interpretivist tradition. However, in the advancing arena of large-scale on-line interaction (the “big data” of crisis response), she adapts quantitative techniques that then allow the application of qualitative methods and the “ethnographic eye” to closely observe and describe social structures in such technology-mediated situations. For this work, Palen has been given the 2015 ACM Computer Human Interaction Social Impact Award.
Palen is the author of over 90 articles and a co-edited book in the areas of human computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, and crisis informatics. She has been awarded $5 million as principal investigator in grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, including an NSF CAREER award in 2006. She is an associate editor for the Human Computer Interaction Journal (Taylor and Francis) and for the Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Journal (Springer).
At the University of Colorado Boulder, Palen directs the Project EPIC (Empowering the Public with Information during Crisis) research effort, and co-directs the Center for Software & Society.
Palen is a graduate of the UC San Diego with a B.S. in cognitive science, and of UC Irvine with an M.S. and Ph.D. in information and computer science. As an undergraduate, she spent time at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and as a faculty member at the University of Aarhus, Denmark and the University of Agder, Norway. She has worked at Boeing Commercial, USWEST Advanced Technologies, Microsoft Commercial and Xerox PARC.
Read more about Palen in an ICS alumni spotlight