About Me

Who I Am

I am an Assistant Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State, where I lead the Human Language Technologies Lab. I am also a Faculty Affiliate of Penn State's Institute for Computational and Data Sciences and a member of the Social Data Analytics graduate faculty.

My research spans natural language processing, privacy, and artificial intelligence. I participate in the Usable Privacy Policy Project. You can read more about my research interests.

From 2016 until 2018 I was an Assistant Professor in the EECS Department at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to that I was a postdoc and a lecturer in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and an NSF International Research Fellow in the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics. I received my PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland in 2011.

Contacting Me

You can reach me at shomir _at_ psu.edu. If you are on Penn State's University Park campus, you can stop by my office at E310 in the Westgate Building.

Students taking my classes may benefit from browsing my Guide for Interacting With Faculty before contacting me.

Students interested in joining my lab: I often have openings for PhD students, MS students, and undergraduates to work on projects related to natural language processing or privacy. If you're interested in working with me, first consult my Guide for Joining My Lab and then email me with "read your recruiting note" as the subject line. Include a CV and an explanation of your specific interests in my research.

Curriculum Vitae

Here it is.

Latest News

I also sometimes post news and thoughts to Twitter.

2020-01-17: Our paper "Finding a Choice in a Haystack: Automatic Extraction of Opt-Out Statements from Privacy Policy Text" has been accepted for publication and oral presentation at The Web Conference.

2020-01-02: Our proposal titled "Exploring the Effects of Socioeconomic Status on Privacy Behaviors in an Online Social Network" will be funded by Penn State's Center for Social Data Analytics. Sarah Rajtmajer and I will work together on this project.

2019-12-01: I recently attended two events: an NSF Workshop on Departmental Plans for Broadening Participation in Computer Science, where I was one of two faculty representing the College of IST, and a Penn State - University of Auckland research collaboration development workshop.

2019-11-11: The Fall 2019 issue of iConnect, the College of IST's magazine, contains a synopsis of my recent work to simplify online privacy using artificial intelligence. It's on page 22.

2019-10-25: I gave a talk for Graduates in IST about finding an academic job. Most of the talk was based upon material in my Guide for the Tenure-Track Job Market in Computer/Information Sciences.

2019-09-24: I wrote a Guide to Citations and References for students who are new to using citations and references, or need to refresh their memory. I wanted to create a guide with a "citation positive" perspective, which I explain in the first section.

2019-09-17: I will lead a breakout session titled "Making Privacy Understandable for Internet Users" at the NSF SaTC PI Meeting in Alexandria on October 27-29. We will discuss efforts to create software, datasets, and algorithms that can play a role in helping internet users understand information about online privacy, including the practices of online entities they interact with and basic information about how privacy works.

2019-08-31: Our paper "Question Answering for Privacy Policies: Combining Computational and Legal Perspectives" has been accepted to EMNLP 2019.

2019-07-23: Here's a press release from Penn State about our recent SaTC grant.

2019-07-12: The College of IST's Instagram account posted a Faculty Friday interview with me. One tiny correction: I first tried laksa when I spent a summer in Singapore, not Malaysia.

2019-07-09: Our NSF SaTC Medium proposal "Automatically Answering People's Privacy Questions" was chosen for funding! I'll be working with Norman Sadeh at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and Joel Reidenberg at Fordham University's School of Law to create question answering systems for online privacy.

2019-06-02: I wrote a Guide for Scholarly Writing, aimed at students preparing manuscripts to submit to publication venues.

2019-05-21: I recently spoke at the graduation ceremony for the Philosophy Department at Virginia Tech. I added a video of my speech to the miscellany page.

2019-04-27: I added a Teaching FAQ to my website with information for students enrolled in my classes, especially first-year college students and international students.

2019-04-18: I speak first and last (and in the middle) of this video promoting artificial intelligence research at Penn State. Thanks to PSU's CommAgency students for putting this together.

For older news, check the archive.