Kate Starbird, PhD

Kate Starbird

Assistant Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering
University of Washington
Sieg Hall, Room 413
UW HCDE Box 352315, Seattle, WA 98195
Website »

PhD, Technology, Media and Society, University of Colorado, 2012
BS, Computer Science, Stanford, 1997

Kate Starbird is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) and Director of the Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation (emCOMP) Laboratory. Kate's research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. More specifically, her research examines how people use social media to seek, share, and make sense of information after natural disasters (such as earthquakes and hurricanes) and man-made disasters (such as acts of terrorism and mass shooting events).

Starbird has explored three dimensions of this activity: 1) online organizing, i.e. how people connect and collaborate to help themselves and others in response to crisis events; 2) collective sensemaking and rumoring; and 3) the opportunistic exploitation of these events for the intentional spread of disinformation. This work touches on broader questions about the intersection of technology and society—including the vast potential for online social platforms to empower people to work together to solve problems, as well as salient concerns related to abuse and manipulation of and through these platforms and the consequent erosion of trust in information. 

Kate earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Technology, Media and Society (2012) and holds a BS in Computer Science from Stanford University (1997).