UMD iSchool Dean's Office Update
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The iSchool is made up of a constellation of people working together. Here are a few of those stars.
Photo of Sareil Brookins

Jo Anne Mealo-Wentz
Payroll & Benefits Coordinator
Joining us from the Department of Biology at UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) where she worked as a HR Associate, Jo Anne brings a wealth of experience in human resources and management within the higher education domain to the iSchool’s administrative team. For over two years, Jo Anne has been integral in ensuring smooth onboarding, payroll, and visa and immigration processing for iSchool faculty and staff. She is currently in the midst of processing several new appointments for the Spring 2022 semester along with several visa applications. Before her career at UMD, she was a facility accountant for a nursing home and worked for the federal government across various roles including program management positions for the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2019, she earned a certificate in Management Foundation from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). Jo Anne has thrived on the iSchool’s close knit group of faculty and staff and taken part in various community building events, such as the virtual happy hour at the start of the pandemic. In her free time, she loves camp-glamping around the region in her travel trailer, practicing her bowling prowess on a league with her husband, and spending time with her friends and family, which includes her 10 year old daughter.

Photo of Joseph Sherren

Jason R. Baron
Professor of the Practice
Jason joined the iSchool faculty in 2020 as a Professor of the Practice. Immediately prior to his appointment, Jason worked for seven years at the law firm of Faegre Drinker, where he assisted in starting an information governance practice group.  He previously had been employed for 33 years as a government lawyer, including as a trial attorney and senior counsel at the Department of Justice, and as the first appointed Director of Litigation at the National Archives and Records Information.  During his time in government service, Jason served as lead counsel on high-profile cases involving the preservation of White House electronic records. Beginning in 2006, Jason worked with Doug Oard in founding the NIST Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) Legal Track, aimed at evaluating the efficacy of using machine learning methods to find relevant documents as part of “e-discovery” in litigation. Together, they went on to bring together lawyers and information scientists to discuss advanced search issues, including in workshops held in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Italy, China and India.  At the iSchool, Jason has taught graduate courses in government information, introduction to archives and digital curation, and principles of electronic recordkeeping, and will be teaching a new course on information governance in the Fall 2022 semester.  His current research interests include using machine learning to aid in the more efficient processing of Freedom of Information Act requests.  Outside the classroom, Jason runs a charity he founded to help improve the education of children in a remote, rural province in Cambodia (

Photo of Joseph Sherren

Jennifer (Jen) Sturge
Adjunct Lecturer
Everyone has ideas of what becoming a school librarian will entail – and Jen Sturge hones her natural leadership and teaching styles to provide real world context and application to her classes at the UMD iSchool. After participating in the Lilead Project where she met Dr. Ann Carlson Weeks, Professor of the Practice, Emerita at the iSchool, Jen would eventually join the iSchool faculty in Spring 2018 to teach graduate courses in literature and school library management. Jen’s curriculum focuses heavily on ensuring that students are reading books that are inclusive and feature a wide range of authors, topics, and subjects, a shift from her prior experience teaching first year experience courses to undergraduates and recertification courses for Maryland Public Television. Jen was recently named a 2021 Mover and Shaker by the Library Journal for her contributions to advancing the library field forward as a profession, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of the iSchool, Jen coordinates the school library program for Calvert County Public Schools working closely with 22 school librarians to ensure that students feel welcomed, valued, and seen in the libraries’ collections, and can see themselves represented on the walls, books, and digital collections, especially those with LGBTQ+ representations. She has served as President of the Maryland Association of School Librarians since 2020 and is the chair of the supervisor section of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). She also serves as the editorial board liaison for Knowledge Quest for its March/April 2022 issue, has penned several articles for School Library Connection, Computers in Libraries, and Programming Librarian, and co-authored a chapter in Dr. Renee Hill’s latest book, Hope and a Future: Perspectives on the Impact that Librarians and Libraries Have on Our World. In her free time, Jen enjoys indoor cycling and taking outdoor walks, reconnecting with friends, and of course reading the latest hardback or e-book. She is also preparing to seek the 2023-2024 AASL presidential term during the 2022 American Library Association (ALA) election which will begin accepting ballots on March 9, 2022.

Photo of Rachel Yang

Zijian (Jason) Ding
PhD Student
In the face of increasing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace and in society, rethinking the role of people and their relationships with technology is more imperative than ever. As a human-computer interaction (HCI) researcher, Jason is passionate about investigating how to augment and enhance people’ performance in human-centered and creative tasks where the use of automation typically falls short. His work includes building AI-powered systems to help people grapple with creative knowledge tasks and the development of research that combines his engineering and technical skills to address unprecedented challenges that dramatically change the way people work and use technology. This research has been published at top-tier HCI conferences, including CHI, CSCW, UIST, as well as other venues with more specific focus such as CHIIR and Creativity & Cognition (C&C). Jason’s interest in studying HCI and human-AI collaboration at the UMD iSchool started from his undergraduate study in Hong Kong, where he worked on a capstone project to automate reading water meters with image recognition. While automated readings reduced costs, it introduced new civic issues around what role people play in the world. After starting the PhD program in Fall 2021, Jason began working as a Graduate Research Assistant in the HCI Lab supervised by faculty advisor and Associate Director of the HCIL, Prof. Joel Chan, where he investigates the effects of diverse initial inputs on optimizing solutions in both mathematics and creative domains, and how to leverage deep learning language models to support designers in creative processes. He is currently preparing the camera-ready of his first-authored paper accepted to CHI'22, the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), as well as leading multiple paper submissions. Prior to the iSchool, Jason worked as a researcher in the University of California, San Diego Design Lab and at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Jason is an experienced event photographer and has travelled to 10+ countries before the pandemic, which he has now substituted with “virtual traveling” on YouTube.

We look forward to sharing about more of our stars soon!
Keith Marzullo
Professor and Dean
College of Information Studies (iSchool)
University of Maryland
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University of Maryland College of Information Studies
4161 Fieldhouse Drive, Room 1117
Patuxent Building
College Park , Maryland 20742
United States

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