Humanities + technology = digital innovation

The emails and text messages never stop, and Pam Lach knows neither can she.

“I am not very good at multitasking,” Pam Lach insists, even as she pulls out her laptop and cell phone to await the next ping.

It is 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, and the deadline to submit an application for a major digital humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is at the end of that business day. That’s why team members had been pinging Lach with minor revisions for much of the previous night and into the morning.

As the manager of the Digital Innovation Lab, Lach was called upon to shepherd the grant application. Launched by the College of Arts and Sciences last July, the lab has become a hub of collaboration and interdisciplinary discovery in the use of digital technologies to advance the work of the humanities.

Faculty members and lab co-founders Robert Allen from American Studies and Richard Marciano from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) said Lach is uniquely qualified to run the lab because of her dual interests in the humanities and digital technologies.

Where is the lab? Ask Allen that question, and he points to Lach’s laptop. “Right there,” he said.

But he could just as easily have pointed to her head.

“Her role with the lab is critical as the person who ‘translates’ between scholars and technologists,” Allen said. “The reason she is able to do that so well is because she has inhabited and understands both worlds.”

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Published February 10, 2012.