Marti Hearst (Photo/ UC Berkeley School of Information)
Marti Hearst (Photo/ UC Berkeley School of Information)

Marti Hearst is UC Berkeley School of Information’s new head of school, Jennifer Chayes, the school’s dean, recently announced.

Hearst came to teach at the school in 1997 as its first-ever assistant professor. In her new role, she will manage the unit’s day-to-day operations and communicate its vision on and off campus. She aims to build on the work of the I School’s last head of school, Hany Farid; launch the unit’s first undergraduate minor; and increase resources for the school.

The I School offered “a new way to study the intersection of information, society and technology” in 1997, said Hearst. “As other universities were modernizing their library schools, I think we were a model that the others looked to, and that we can be credited with bringing an emphasis on the field of Human-Computer Interaction to information schools. It seems today the world has caught up with our vision of the I School, if only by another name.”

Hearst will serve in the role through June 30, 2023. She will report to Chayes, who is also associate provost of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). The I School is an affiliate of CDSS.

Hearst earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, where she also holds a 0 percent appointment. Hearst worked as a researcher at the legendary Xerox Palo Alto Research Center during graduate school and for three years after receiving her doctoral degree. 

She then returned to teach at the I School. Early on, she helped create new curriculum and taught courses in information organization and retrieval, user interface design, text mining and information visualization.

Since then, she has conducted groundbreaking research on automating sentiment analysis and word sense disambiguation. She invented an algorithm used in commercial text mining operations known as “Hearst Patterns” and developed a now commonly-used automatic text segmentation approach called TextTiling. She wrote “Search User Interfaces,” the first academic book on the issue. Today, her research focuses on user interfaces for search engines, information visualization, natural language processing and massive open online courses.

Hearst has received several honors for her research. She has served as president of the Association for Computational Linguistics. She has also been honored as an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) fellow and as a member of the Academies of the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval and the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction. She has been celebrated for her work in the classroom, too, earning four teaching awards.

“We are very appreciative of Marti’s leadership and her willingness to serve,” Chayes said. “I look forward to working with her and the entire school for the I School’s continued success.”