Bryan Semaan is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, where he is the founder and director of the Human-Centered Computing + Design (HCC+D) Lab. He is also a Research Associate with the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) and a Research Associate with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). He is interested in the general areas of human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), and social computing.
Bryan focuses his work to influence and shape the discourses in the broad field of HCI. Specifically, the overarching goal of his research is to examine the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in enabling resilience amongst people immersed in challenging contexts (e.g. people’s experiences with racism and stereotyping, LGBTQ+ people “coming out”, and refugees integrating into new sociocultural contexts). Resilience is defined as how people bounce back from threat or vulnerability. He seeks out contexts where he can explore the relationship between technology and resilience and that allow him to better understand how people actively use ICTs in the production of resilience. He especially focuses on those contexts where people might be unable to generate resilience with ICTs, or where the present design of ICTs and other social systems can produce additional threat or vulnerability in people’s lives (e.g. algorithms, facial recognition software, governance, and social media).
Much of his early scholarship focused on how people draw on ICTs to build resilience during environmental disasters and human-induced emergencies. He has also examined resilience in transitional contexts, such as when people are moving from one life stage or condition to another (e.g. becoming a parent). His current and planned future work focuses on how the evocation of resilience is an everyday experience for people who are systemically marginalized across physical and digital environments; people who are pushed to the boundaries of society based on various intersections of their identity, such as race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.
His approach to this work is sociotechnical—he explores the complex relationship between ICT and the social world comprised of human and non-human (e.g. algorithms and chat bots) entities. Drawing on critical approaches (e.g. postcolonial and decolonization theories, critical race, and feminist science), he examines the macro and micro relationships between ICT and the social world to better understand the societal impacts of sociotechnical systems, critique the design of existing sociotechnical systems, and create novel sociotechnical systems that address complex and pressing social problems.
Like many in HCI, the goal of his empirical, conceptual, and design work is to advance ICTs for the social good. To realize this goal, he employs a sociotechnical approach whereby he explores the complex relationship between ICTs and human behavior by drawing on various social science theories and methods. Specifically, to think about the micro and macro relationships between technology and resilience, and to push for more inclusive and value-sensitive ICT design, his research draws and expands upon theories from various disciplines, such as Science and Technology Studies (STS), Feminist STS (FSTS), Organizational Sciences, Psychology, Trauma and Counseling, Political Science, and more. He integrates qualitative (e.g. ethnography), quantitative (e.g. experiments and surveys), and computational analyses (e.g. NLP, machine learning, and data visualization techniques) to understand the activities of populations immersed in challenging contexts. He also employs participatory and speculative design approaches to uncover complex social processes and effects, and to identify and pursue ICT design opportunities which empower and/or improve the lives of people.
To learn more about specific projects, please navigate to the following page: research projects. To access published articles, please navigate to the publications section or visit his Google Scholar Profile.
Before coming to Syracuse, Bryan was a postdoctoral scholar (postdoc) in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he worked with Dr. Scott Robertson. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where he worked with Dr. Gloria Mark. He also graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Information and Computer Science from UCI in 2005 and 2007, respectively.