About PAL

frontpage image

As information technologies increasingly expand the ability for organizations to store, process, and exploit personal data, privacy is at the center of discussion and controversy among multiple stakeholders including IT professionals, business leaders, privacy activists, and government regulators. Public opinion polls have repeatedly shown privacy to be of utmost concern in diverse organizational and societal contexts. Researchers at the Privacy Assurance Laboratory (PAL) aims to bring together the inter-disciplinary research on a diverse set of topics related to understanding and assuring information privacy. PAL research seeks to better understand the dynamic and dialectic nature of information privacy through a combination of theoretical, technical and empirical research efforts. Moreover, the interplay between social and technological issues associated with the privacy assurance will be the subject of a number of educational initiatives for Penn State's new major in Security and Risk Analysis

Download the PAL brochure (Adobe Reader required). 

News and Events

Jan 2016: PAL members have two papers accepted by the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016) to be held at San Jose, California. They are : 1) Dr Haiyan Jia and Dr. Heng Xu's work on "Autonomous and Interdependent: Collaborative Privacy Management on Social Network Sites, and 2) the work on "Dear Diary: Teens Reflect on Their Weekly Online Risk Experiences" by Dr. Pamela Wisniewski, Dr. Heng Xu, Dr. Mary Beth Rosson, and Dr. John M. Carroll.

Dec 2015: Dr. Heng Xu presented the paper "Examining Users' Collective Privacy Concerns on Social Networking Sites" that she co-authored with Dr. Haiyan Jia at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2015) held at Fort Worth, Texas.

Nov 2015: The paper made by Dr. Bo Zhang and Dr. Heng Xu on "Privacy Nudges for Mobile Applications: Effects on the Creepiness Emotion and Privacy Attitudes" was accepted by the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2016), San Francisco, California.

Read more »


Alumni - PhD graduate

  • Ying Chen, data scientist at PayPal
  • Rachida Parks, assistant professor at the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Pan Shi, (ABD), software engineer at Google
  • Peijian Song, associate professor at Nanjing University, China
  • Na Wang, senior research engineer at Samsung Research America.
  • Bo Zhang, UX researcher at Facebook Research.

Alumni - MSc graduate

  • Nazneen Irani, technology consultant at Deloitte
  • Saijing Zheng, IST PhD candidate, Penn State

Alumni - Postdoc and Visiting Scholar

  • Pamela Wisniewski, Postdoc, Assistant Professor at the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida
  • Tao Zhou, Visiting scholar, Associate Professor at the School of Management at Hangzhou Dianzi University, China

Alumni - Undergraduate

  • Michael Albertson, IST undergraduate student, Penn State
  • Natasha Barnes, consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Justin Cheung, IST undergraduate student, Penn State
  • Bradley Dellinger, development associate at Freddie Mac
  • Amanda R. Melchiore, business systems analyst at Vanguard

Research Grants

Current Projects and Publications

Read more »


Join Us!

For Penn State students or faculty members doing privacy related research: if you would like to be included on PAL web site, please contact Dr. Heng Xu.

For current and prospective Penn State students: if you are interested in one of the following research areas, please send your resume to Dr. Heng Xu:

1. Development and evaluation of privacy enhancing technologies.     Privacy Assurance Lab is looking for students to work on research projects with us (for independent study or thesis credit or pay). We are particularly interested in students who have solid experiences in Windows programming as well as students with experience conducting user studies.

2. Usable IT Security Management.     We are looking for one PhD student with the background in IST, management and organization, MIS, or marketing.

3. Social, psychological and cultural views of information privacy.    We are looking for one PhD student with the background in IST, psychology, communication or MIS.