David Randall, an ADMIS’10 graduate has been awarded the highly regarded Fulbright Scholarship.
While studying abroad during his undergraduate degree, David stumbled upon the LSE Information Systems website, and its now retired ADMIS program. It caught his eye as a unique program at a predominantly social sciences university and he made it a top choice for his graduate studies. Prior to beginning his studies at the LSE, David spent a year at TNT, the parcel distribution company, working as a Service Assurance Analyst where he coordinated disaster recovery and business continuity
For his Master’s thesis, David looked at a virtual team made up of members of an online community competing in a contest organised by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) – the same organisation that was responsible for the ground breaking work in switching networks that laid the foundations for the internet infrastructure.
The aim of the contest (known as the DARPA Network Challenge) was to utilise online communities to find 10 red balloons that were placed around the continental US for 10 hours on one day in December 2009. The team David investigated was comprised of a dozen or so people – located all around the world – who acted as a nerve centre for organising the rest of a 30,000 strong community and about 2,000 core participants. His thesis looked at the media synchronicity theory and with his collected data he was able to show that some key elements of the theory faltered when applied to the DARPA project team. David was a member of the team thus had primary source access to data from Google Wave (now a defunct project) and Skype. Unsurprisingly, the thesis entitled “Ten Red Balloons: Virtual Teams and Online Communities – a Test of Media Synchronicity Theory” was awarded a distinction, the same honour that would apply to his overall degree. David swiftly followed up his work with a paper to be published in the upcoming edition of iSChannel.
With a background in computing and soon to be an ADMIS graduate, David was hunting for a PhD program, and applied for the Fulbright Scholarship in May 2010. With the outcome of his work at LSE still unknown, he did not give it much thought after applying and was instead focused on his research. He was then pleasantly surprised when he was invited for an interview the following August. David found the interview process to be somewhat rigorous, and was not overly optimistic about his chances, yet to his delight a month later he received the letter offering him a confirmed award for 2011-12. It later emerged during a reception with the US Ambassador at Fulbright’s pre-departure orientation, that one of the things that impressed the Director of the UK Commission so much during David’s interview was that the panel saw a Tweet he made about it after leaving – something he said he would do when being questioned about social networking during his interview.
The Fulbright Scholarship, of up to $25,000 towards tuition and living expenses for one year, also pays for GRE & application fees and comes with the invaluable support of the Fulbright commission through the application process, admission and beyond. After several months of applications and interviews David accepted an offer to study towards a PhD in Information Science at the University of Washington, in Seattle. At the University of Washington he plans to be working with a faculty member on Wiki Projects under a National Science Foundation grant and in the future hopes to get involved in NASA research on communications and the logistics of coordinating teams on the ground and those in space.
LISA wishes David the best of luck, in hope that one of our graduates would be partly behind the first tweet from the Moon: “@LISA Zero Gravity Information Systems”.