Research


My research brings together natural language processing (NLP), privacy, and computational social science. I direct the Human Language Technologies Lab at Penn State.

I am interested in solving problems to enable computers to do meaningful work with large volumes of natural language text. My lab develops new methods for NLP and applies them to a variety of domains. I am particularly interested in breaking down technology's "walls of text", i.e., situations where a human user or decision-maker is expected to consume a large quantity of text to take action while lacking sufficient resources (time, expertise) to properly understand what they have been given. I have applied this paradigm to a variety of domains including privacy policies, scholarly manuscripts, social media data, speech transcripts, and emails. I am always interested in new problems involving text data to collaborate on.

My work with PrivaSeer and the Usable Privacy Policy Project uses a combination of crowdsourcing, NLP, and machine learning to extract key details from websites' and mobile apps' privacy policies. I am also interested in privacy in online social networks, and within that topic area I have published on personal disclosures, location sharing, and post deletion.

You can watch the video below (in which I am the first speaker) about the NLP components of the Usable Privacy Policy Project. It's part of a series of videos describing our work.

I speak first and last (and in the middle) of the video below promoting artificial intelligence research at Penn State. (Production credits and press release are here.)

You can also browse my publications.