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Andrew Sears

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Andrew Sears
Alma materRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
University of Maryland, College Park
Scientific career
FieldsHuman-Computer Interaction
Human-Centered Computing
InstitutionsDePaul University
Rochester Institute of Technology
The Pennsylvania State University
Syracuse University
Doctoral advisorBen Shneiderman

Andrew Sears is an American computer scientist. He is a professor and dean of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and will become Provost at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on August 1, 2024.

His research explores issues related to human-computer interaction including mobile computing, speech recognition, information technology accessibility, and situationally-induced impairments and disabilities. He earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland Department of Computer Science in College Park. His expert opinion on information technology and IT workforce issues have been reported by a variety of media sources.


Sears was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and attended Natick High School located in Natick, Massachusetts. He pursued undergraduate studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1988 with a BS in Computer Science. Subsequently, Sears pursued graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, earning a PhD in Computer Science (1993). His dissertation, titled “Layout Appropriateness: Guiding user interface design with simple task descriptions”[1] was chaired by Ben Shneiderman, with whom he worked in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab.

Upon receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, Sears joined the faculty of the School of Computer Science, Information Systems, and Telecommunications at DePaul University in Chicago. He left DePaul to accept a position with the Information Systems Department at UMBC in 1999. He served as the Chair of the Information Systems Department at UMBC from 2002 until 2011. In 2011, he left UMBC to join RIT as Dean of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. In 2015, he left RIT and joined The Pennsylvania State University as Dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). He served as Interim Chief Information Security Officer for the university from September 2015 until December 2016. In 2023, he left Penn State and joined Syracuse University as Dean of the School of Information Studies.[2]

Sears has been actively involved with the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing (SIGACCESS) since 2001 when he was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the group. In 2006 he was elected Vice Chair of SIGACCESS and in 2009 he was elected to serve as the chair of the group. In 2010, Sears was named a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He has chaired the premier conferences in the fields of human-computer interaction (CHI[3]) and computer accessibility (ASSETS[4]). He also served in numerous other capacities on the organizing committees of these and other conferences. His research and expert opinion on information technology and IT workforce issues have been reported by a variety of media sources including The New York Times,[5] The Chronicle of Higher Education,[6] ComputerWorld,[7] InformationWeek,[8] Baltimore Business Journal,[9][10] the Baltimore Examiner,[8] WEAA radio, WYPR radio, and Maryland Public Television.[11] Sears, working with Vicki Hanson, served as founding Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing (2006-2013).[12] He is co-editor of the first two editions of the Human-Computer Interaction Handbook,[13] published by CRC Press.

In June 2024, he accepted a position as Senior Vice President and Provost of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Research interests[edit]

Sears’ research interests focus on the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) with much of his research focusing on accessibility-related issues. His early research focused on understanding and enhancing how people interact with touchscreen-based interfaces[14][15] as well as demonstrating the benefits that could be obtained by integrating information about usage patterns as interfaces are organized.[16][17] More recently, much of his research has addressed issues that affect the accessibility of information technologies. Sears employs a broad definition of accessibility[18] which addresses the issues involved in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to and can effectively use information technologies as well as the challenges that are associated with situationally-induced disabilities. Sears defines situationally-induced disabilities as the difficulties individuals experience when the conditions in which they are working, or the activities in which they are engaged, result in demands that exceed the user's capabilities. Environment-based examples include interacting with information technologies in suboptimal lighting conditions, a noisy environment, extreme temperatures, or a moving vehicle. Activity-based examples include interacting with information technologies as a secondary task while actively engaged in providing health care, operating a moving vehicle, or participating in a meeting.


  1. ^ Sears, Andrew (1993). "Layout appropriateness: Guiding user interface design with simple task descriptions". UMI. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  2. ^ "College of IST Dean Andrew Sears announces departure". Penn State University. June 28, 2023. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  3. ^ "ACM SIGCHI Conference on HUman Factors in Computer Systems". 2001. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  4. ^ "The Seventh International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility". 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  5. ^ [1], "Cyberattacks on Universities, and How to Thwart Them". 2013. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  6. ^ [2], "Vigilance Is the Price of Secure Computing" 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  7. ^ "Career Watch: One School Boosts CS Enrollment". 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  8. ^ a b "Outreach Programs Help Pump Up Tech Degree Enrollment At UMBC". 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  9. ^ Dance, Scott (2007-05-21). "Drop in IT enrollment hits UMBC, schools nationwide". Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  10. ^ Dance, Scott (2008-08-18). "Recession-proof: How to protect your job in an economy fraught with layoffs". Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  11. ^ "Maryland Public Television: Business Connection "The IT Job Market"". 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  12. ^ "ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing". ACM Press. 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  13. ^ Sears, Andrew; Jacko, Julie, eds. (2007). The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies, and Emerging Applications (2nd ed.). CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8058-5870-9.
  14. ^ Sears, Andrew; Ben Shneiderman (1991). "High Precision Touchscreens: Design Strategies and Comparisons with a Mouse" (PDF). International Journal of Man-Machine Studies. 34 (4): 593–613. doi:10.1016/0020-7373(91)90037-8. hdl:1903/360. S2CID 2430120.
  15. ^ Sears, Andrew; Plaisant, Catherine; Shneiderman, Ben (1992). "1". In H.R. Hartson and D. Hix (ed.). A New Era for High Precision Touchscreens. Advances in Human Computer Interaction. Vol. 3. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. pp. 1–33. ISBN 978-0-89391-751-7.
  16. ^ Sears, Andrew; Ben Shneiderman (1994). "Split menus: Effectively using selection frequency to organize menus". ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 1 (1): 27–51. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/174630.174632. S2CID 1081575.
  17. ^ Sears, Andrew (1993). "Layout Appropriateness: A metric for evaluating user interface widget layout". IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. 19 (7): 707–719. CiteSeerX doi:10.1109/32.238571.
  18. ^ Sears, Andrew; Young, M.; Feng, J. (2007). "42". In A. Sears and J. Jacko (ed.). Physical Disabilities and Computing Technologies: An Analysis of Impairments. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications (2nd ed.). CRC Press. pp. 829–852. ISBN 978-0-8058-5870-9.

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