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Introduction to the Digital Matters Team!

David Roh, Director

Greetings! This past year, I had the privilege of being appointed director of the the Digital Matters Lab and I’d like to take the time to tell you a bit about myself. I’m an associate professor of English here at the U, with stops along the way at Old Dominion University, UC Santa Barbara, Waseda University, Harvard University, and UCLA. My interest in the Digital Humanities originates from the time I took an undergraduate course on electronic literature–it was at that moment that I realized I could marry my interests in technology and lit, and I haven’t looked back since.

I’m originally from Southern California, and am happy to have settled in Salt Lake City, with its incredible mountains and ample cultural and recreational opportunities. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, biking around town, getting lost in a good book, and walking my Basset hound mix, Marlowe.

The next few years are going to be quite exciting and challenging, but I’m happy to be part of a great team that’s game for dreaming up all kinds of great projects and initiatives. I’ve got a four year appointment, and in that time I intend to build the lab’s infrastructure with an eye toward sustainability, complete a few projects that will shake up the field, and establish a national reputation for digital culture studies at the University of Utah–no sweat.

Rebekah Cummings, Digital Matters Librarian

My name is Rebekah Cummings, and I’m pleased and proud to be the Digital Matters Librarian. While I am new to the DML, I’m not new to the University of Utah. I’ve held two previous positions here as the Research Data Management Librarian at the Marriott Library (2015-2018) and the Assistant Director of the Mountain West Digital Library, a regional hub for the Digital Public Library of America (2013 – 2015). My graduate work was at UCLA, where I studied data curation and worked on an NSF grant studying the data practices of researchers. I hail from Venice, CA but am unapologetically in love with Utah and have claimed it as home. Starting in May, I’ll be the President of the Utah Library Association, which represents librarians of all stripes including academic, public, medical, law, school, and special.

Like most librarians, I have a passion for providing access to information and giving people the tools they need to be successful. While the library is brimming with valuable services and initiatives, the Digital Matters Lab is particularly exciting to me because it pulls together the vision of four separate colleges to support and enable digital scholarship. I see Digital Matters as a place where researchers can try new things, share ideas, make meaningful connections, and push the bounds of their respective fields. Some of the things I’m interested in pursuing in the Lab include developing best practices for humanities data management, web scraping, topic modeling, and experimenting with digital pedagogy. Hopefully, this is also my big chance to learn how to script in Python. Fingers crossed.

Fun fact. This is my second collaboration with David Roh, the DML Director. We also co-chaired the second annual Utah Symposium on the Digital Humanities (DHU2) in 2017!

In my spare time, I can almost always be found with my family, which includes my husband, three kids, and Australian Shepherd, Stan, the greatest dog on the planet. Besides my family, my great loves include snowboarding, exploring our beautiful state, and reading anything I can get my hands on.

If you are looking for support for your digital scholarship project, don’t hesitate to contact me at If I’m not the best person to help you, I can try to connect you to the right person or maybe we can search for an answer together. My door is open and email is the key!

Elizabeth Callaway, Postdoctoral Fellow

My name is Elizabeth Callaway, and I am the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Digital Matters Lab. I research and teach at the intersections of Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and Environmental Humanities. My PhD is in English, but what I enjoy most is using my humanities training to interrogate digital objects, platforms, and spaces. In my current book project on narrative and biodiversity I analyze the databases of global seed banks, critique born digital visualizations of evolutionary supertrees, create network graphs of science fiction ecosystems, and topic model the publications of environmental nonprofits. Rather than accept that biodiversity is a final measurement of variation among species, I pay attention to the genres and tropes that are drawn upon in these various representations of biodiversity, revealing that biodiversity is not a matter of counting species so much as a matter of narrative.

While my own expertise is strongest where the digital and material meet, at the Digital Matters Lab, I am looking forward to helping foster all sorts of new and existing work. I am enthusiastic about planning workshops, learning new techniques, discussing projects, and engaging deeply with people about their own work.

One of my favorite things I do in the Digital Matters Lab is lead the Collaboratory. We’re a working group of graduate students and postdocs in which we collectively come up with and carry out a digital humanities project each year. In this is group we learn digital humanities by doing digital humanities. This an open group where everyone is welcome. We’ve had every level of experience from seasoned digital scholars to new initiates to people who want to try out just one digital project to see what it’s all about. I send out emails fall semester inviting participants, so be on the lookout for those if you’re interested!

Some of my favorite pastimes are critiquing databases, topic modeling in R, breaking video games, reading science fiction, knitting data visualizations, and inviting newcomers into digitally-engaged scholarship (so send me an email if you’re interested in learning more about digital humanities, new media studies, or digital scholarship more broadly

I also like bad programming jokes (obviously).

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