Academic Technology Specialist Program

Visit the ATSP website for monthly news "from the trenches" about projects in research and teaching at Stanford.

About the Program

Academic Technology Specialists collaborate with faculty and staff in departments or programs and provide leadership in innovative uses of information technology for education and research.

Academic Technology Specialists are placed within schools, programs or departments based on their respective discipline-specific backgrounds. They participate in the departmental culture and share academic interests with the faculty. As members of the academic, technology, and library communities, Academic Technology Specialists are uniquely positioned to bridge different cultures and to facilitate a creative and mutual exchange.

The ATS Program has the mission to advance technology in scholarship by being innovative and creative in making technology accessible, understandable, and appealing to an academic audience and by providing leadership and resourcefulness in identifying and integrating technological solutions to pedagogical and research needs.

The ATS Program is unique in its structure. It is organized to maximize the potential for collaboration and sharing within a system that is by nature highly decentralized. It recognizes and reflects the reality that each ATS is a satellite of Academic Computing Services, anchored in the Stanford Libraries but working most of the time independently in their respective departments or programs and away from an immediate administrative center. Members of the ATS Program Management Team serve as ATSs themselves and see it as one of their major responsibilities to foster collaboration as a means for the program to excel in its mission.

ATS projects and collaborations



  • Department of Anthropology, Claudia Engel

    Claudia EngelClaudia Engel earned a doctorate degree in Anthropology and a Masters degree in Biology at the University of Goettingen in Germany. Her work centers around the innovative potential of new technologies for teaching and research and she has been involved in numerous projects alongside Stanford faculty with a focus on classroom technologies, research databases, spatial analysis, and GIS. Claudia co-founded of the Stanford interest group in GIS. She holds an appointment as lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and teaches an introductory course to spatial analysis for Social Scientists. She served for four years as co-director of the Stanford Sea Island Fieldschool. For her work she routinely and extensively uses R, Qgis, GRASS, postGIS, ArcGIS, mysql, php, gephi, python, and -more recently- javascript. She regularly teaches faculty, graduate and undergraduate student workshops on R, GIS, Python, mobile devices, and digital research methods. She also serves as GIS consultant with the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, is a member of the Stanford Spatial Social Science Lab and affiliate of the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Urban Studies Program. She also serves as a Co-Manager of the Academic Technology Specialist Program. Her website and blog can be found at

  • Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Michael Widner

    Mike WidnerMichael Widner is the Academic Technology Specialist for the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at Stanford University. His role is to work with faculty and their research assistants as a consultant, collaborator, and innovator in DLCL-based digital humanities and instructional technology projects. He also organizes and presents workshops and lectures on practices and theories in these fields. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he expects to receive his degree in spring 2014. In his dissertation, "Genre Trouble: Embodied Cognition in Fabliaux, Gawain, and Bury St Edmunds," he uses cognitive science to argue for genre and embodiment as hermeneutic primitives. He traces variations in the representation of characters’ bodies in fabliau, romance, and chronicle, three of the most important and characteristic genres of medieval literature. While at UT, Widner was part of the Digital Writing and Research Lab, where he studied and taught new media, digital rhetorics and writing, and began mastering Drupal. He received an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant to pursue work on Bibliopedia (, a Drupal-based system for the cross-referencing of humanities scholarship and the conversion of metadata into linked data. This system has been used by multiple groups at Stanford, including the Chinese Railroad Workers Project. Prior to entering graduate school, Widner was a UNIX Systems Administrator for SBC (now AT&T), where he was responsible for a large range of servers, including those used to authenticate users connecting to the ISP. He programs in Python, Perl, PHP, shell, javascript, and C++. Other technologies he uses include Drupal, TEI, Gephi, d3, HTML/CSS, databases, Apache, Solr, and numerous others.

  • Humanities Center, Nicole Coleman

    Nicole ColemanNicole has been the Stanford Humanities Center's (SHC) Academic Technology Specialist since 2003, a position funded by the Dean of Research and the Library. She also serves as a Co-Manager of the Academic Technology Specialist Program. Nicole's work involves the application of networked resources and digital technologies in humanities research, with an emphasis on distance collaboration, interdisciplinary collaboration, data visualization, and interface design.

    During her early years at SHC, under the directorship of John Bender, Nicole was tasked to lead a number of digital humanities initiatives at the Humanities Center including establishing a laboratory for graduate research, an online collaborative research environment (, a seed-funding program for collaborative research projects, and a speaker series entitled, "New Directions in Humanities Research" which ran from 2004-2007.

    Under Aron Rodrigue's tenure as SHC director, Nicole became directly involved in the research process with faculty and graduate students. Soon the SHC lab she created became a hub of activity for the research project "Mapping the Republic of Letters." The project was awarded the collaborative research grant "Digging Into Data" co-funded by NEH, NSF, and JISC. Through this deep engagement in the research process with faculty and graduate students, Nicole recognized that humanistic inquiry, grounded in interpretation, has much to contribute to the development of technologies if they are to help us reveal uncertainty and ambiguity, and allow human-scale exploration of complex systems. For two years she co-organized an interdisciplinary research workshop at SHC to address these issues.

    In 2012 Nicole co-founded Humanities+Design, a program that offers fellowships to graduate students to help prepare them for research in the digital age through the design and development of digital research tools. Humanities+Design has received funding from VPOL, VPGE and the Dean of Research, and was recently awarded a NEH Implementation Grant. >

  • Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, Vijoy Abraham

    Vijoy AbrahamVijoy Abraham is a senior member of the ATS Program having started June 1999 with the Dept. of Psychology. Coming from a background in cognitive psychology and information science, and having worked in research-focused applications of technology at an R1 university, he quickly adapted many of the research support services at the Dept. to engage the web and online interaction.

    Vijoy was an early supporter of online web survey systems, a tool invaluable to the social sciences. Starting with the Remark Web Survey system in Psychology which was used to launch hundreds of surveys, to the use of the open source LimeSurvey, Opinio (the first instance at Stanford), and Qualtrics prior to its site licensing by the University. To date, the IRiSS Opinio instance has launched 710 surveys handling over 65k responses and the IRiSS Qualtrics "brand" continues to launch surveys with 53 users having launched 588 surveys in the last 3 years, garnering 112k responses.

    In support of changing trends in Social Science research and scholarship, and to address the continuing interdisciplinary nature of its work, Vijoy is instrumental in launching projects with the Computational Social Science Center and acts as Program Manager for the IRiSS Secure Data Center. For the latter, he is the problem solver and coordinator for projects employing research data that need to be held in secure confines, be it physical or virtual space, and overseeing the policy and regulatory aspects of the work.

    He also is a general strategist for the Centers housed under the IRiSS umbrella, devoting much time to technical specification, determining human resource needs around research initiatives, and assisting in the execution of outreach and training programs.

  • Language Center, Ken Romeo

    Ken RomeoAfter completing an undergraduate degree in applied physics, Ken went to study at Xi Bei University in the People's Republic of China and then to Japan where he taught English for 10 years to a wide variety of students, from kindergarteners to professional translators and interpreters. He returned to the US in 2000 to enroll in an MA program at the Graduate School of Education (then SUSE), and in 2006 he completed his PhD in Educational Linguistics, with a focus on foreign language learning. During the summers, he taught in the English for Foreign Students (EFS) program and did his dissertation research in the Meyer Library Digital Language Lab while teaching one summer. Eventually he taught for EFS full time as he finished his graduate program and in 2006 he was hired as the ATS for the Language Center, where he works with the director, Professor Elizabeth Bernhardt, and the instructional and administrative staff. In 2012 he became one of three managers of the program and now serves the ATSs for the DLCL and the English Department, as well as the Digital Language Lab Service Manager. He has continued to teach foreign graduate students in one EFS class each quarter, but has also taught undergraduates in the Linguistics department (LING 90), and teacher candidates in the GSE Stanford Teacher Education Program (EDUC 388A).

  • Program in Human Biology, Carlos Seligo

    Carlos SeligoCarlos Seligo came to Stanford in 1997 as a postdoc teaching IHUM and produced online curricula for his class: Word and the World. This was the first blended course created with support from the Stanford Learning Lab, and his experience led him to join the VPUE as an Academic Technology Specialist in 2000. Since 2007 he has been the ATS for the Program in Human Biology, supporting online learning in the Core and also individual faculty. Increasingly, Seligo has produced high-quality videos, including a documentary for the program’s 40th reunion, for which Carol Boggs awarded him the Merton and Audrey Bernfield Director’s Award in 2012. In 2013 he videorecorded on location (at MIT, on Pike's Peak, etc.) and edited seven video stories for Anne Friedlander's blended course on Exercise Physiology.

  • Department of History, Jason Heppler

    Jason is completing his doctorate through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in History, where he pursues teaching and research interests in U.S. West, urban and environmental history, and digital history. He took a B.A. from South Dakota State University and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During the five years he spent at Nebraska he developed or collaborated on several digital history projects, both faculty-led and for his own research. Prior to joining Stanford, he served as the project manager for the William F. Cody Digital Archive at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at UNL for two years. Since joining Stanford in January 2013, he has had the opportunity to initiate several digital history research projects led by faculty and graduate students in the Department of History and have contributed to projects and discussions at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) regarding research, teaching, peer review, and publishing. He writes code in Python, Ruby, PHP, JavaScript, and has extensive or growing knowledge with TEI, Gephi, D3.js, HTML/CSS, Apache, and databases.

    He is the lead strategist for Digital History at Stanford, a place to showcase digital history projects in the History Department, member of the DH Reading Group and the D3 User Group and an active participant in Digital Humanities at Stanford.

  • Department of English, Kenny Ligda

    Kenneth LigdaKenneth Ligda is the newest addition to the ATS staff, having come on board this summer. He earned BAs in English and Danish from the University of Washington, taught ESL in Prague, and earned his PhD in the English Department at Stanford. Prior to starting as ATS, Kenneth worked for two years as the Course Coordinator for Literary History in English, where he acquired considerable expertise in the goals and methods of the Department’s new core curriculum. His central mandate as ATS is online learning, which the Department intends to build out from its core: first as flipped lectures and other online tools specifically designed for Stanford students, and then as open resources and full-scale MOOCs. Much of his job thus far has involved working with VPOL and the OpenEdX platform, and mastering technologies for recording, producing, and distributing courses. He is currently developing an online learning plan for the Department in collaboration with a task force of faculty.