Meet SCI's New Faculty: Chelsea Gunn

Name: Chelsea Gunn
Title: Teaching Assistant Professor
Department: Information Culture and Data Stewardship

Chelsea Gunn is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information. Her teaching and research interests include personal archives, archival ethics, web and social media archiving, and digital preservation. 

Chelsea received her MLIS from Simmons University, and her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information. Prior to coming to SCI, she lived in Providence, RI where she worked as an archivist, researcher, and educator in the history and cultural heritage field. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Prototype, a non-profit dedicated to building gender and racial equity in tech and entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh. 

What are your research interests?
My research interests are largely centered around personal archives –  both the ways in which individuals create and tend to their own records and the ways archival institutions acquire, preserve, and provide access to the records of private individuals. I am particularly interested in the intersection of personal archives and commercial technological infrastructure. How do the socio-technical systems that support record creation and use, including social media and cloud storage, affect long-term access to personal records? How does this infrastructure, in turn, impact or alter documentary heritage and collective memory? I consider these questions from a technological perspective, exploring digital preservation strategies, as well as through an ethical, personal, and community-focused lens.  

Why did you choose to come to SCI?
Having been a doctoral student at SCI through its formation and first three years in operation, I have been closely following, and at times involved in, the planning and development of the school and, in particular, the redesigned Master of Library and Information Science program. Archival education at Pitt, in particular, has a long and impactful history that I am excited to be a part of. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the faculty I was able to work with as a graduate student, and was eager to both continue working with them and contribute to the recently relaunched MLIS in a greater capacity as a member of that faculty.

How does your research/teaching align with SCI’s mission?
The skills of information professionals seem to be more vital and relevant now than ever. My approach to both teaching and research is informed by my own experiences working in a variety of institutions, from local historical societies to public libraries to government agencies. As an educator, I hope to prepare students for work in a range of organizational environments, and to emphasize the transdisciplinary, versatile potential of information work. And because my research considers the impact of socio-technical systems on archives and memory, the opportunity to work alongside people who are engaged in the development of socio-technical systems, and who engage in this work from other perspectives, is an exciting prospect. SCI’s emphasis on a polymathic education aligns with my goal of pursuing collaborative, interdisciplinary work, both within the school and throughout the university more broadly.