KSU alumnus goes from grad school to Google

Walter Doerschuk

The corporation has finally become so well-known that the word “Google” is now listed as a transitive verb in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.  

“Google” may be a verb according to the dictionary, but Jason Morrison certainly knows the word as a proper noun. 

Morrison, who received a master’s degree in information architecture and knowledge management from Kent State in 2007, recognizes Google as the name of his employer. He works as a support engineer on Google’s Search Quality Team, which works to stop questionable ad sites from redirecting Google searchers.

“There is a lot of incentive for bad guys to redirect you to sites,” said Morrison, who has been with Google since 2008. “My team works to prevent this.”

He currently lives in Mountain View, Calif., home of Google’s headquarters, with his wife Ann and 3-year-old daughter Athena.

When Athena was born, his family made international headlines when he turned to the Internet to help find a name for the newborn.

He sent a Google document of names to family members and posted a list of names to his public blog. Eventually, the list was picked up by several other blogs, and suggestions came pouring in from all over.

Morrison said his family didn’t mind the method of choosing a name. 

“One of the things that helped was we never promised the name with the most votes would win,” he said.

Morrison recalled the special moment when Athena was born.

“She opened her eyes and looked right at us,” he said. “I don’t know if you have been around newborns a lot, but not a lot of them do that.” 

Morrison described himself as “a pretty nerdy kid” while growing up in Northfield, Ohio. He said he was interested in computers and science fiction.   

“I guess it’s not too surprising that I ended up in computer programming,” he said.

Upon graduation from Nordonia High School, Morrison attended Ohio Wesleyan University and completed his undergraduate work in computer science.

He then took his time going through Kent State’s IAKM program as a part of the School of Library and Information Science. He said he started in 2003 or 2004 and took night classes as he worked full time.

Morrison said he wasn’t in a hurry while going through the IAKM program because he enjoyed working on special projects, including his thesis. He had some of his research as a graduate student published in the academic journal Information Processing and Management.

David Robins and Marcia Zeng are two professors within the School of Library Information Science who became familiar with Morrison as they served on his thesis committee.

“Jason Morrison is a thinker,” Zeng said. “His hard working, solid research experience and background, as well as the capability of applying theories and scientific methodologies to solving daily life issues, make him outstanding among master’s students.”

Robins said Morrison continuously attended class prepared.

“He was always bringing in something he was reading, and he always helped with discussions,” Robins said.  

Upon completion of graduate school, Morrison took a different approach to finding his career.

Prior to answering job ads on Monster.com, he decided to apply to companies that interested him including Google, Apple, Inc. and National Public Radio. He said he doesn’t know how his résumé caught a Google employer’s eye.  

“I’m not sure how my résumé got through, but I got a call, did a series of interviews and got the job,” Morrison said. “It was very exciting.”

In recognition of his successes and efforts, Morrison was recently presented the IAKM Alumnus of the Year award from the School of Library and Information Science. He said he was not able to accept the award in person, but he would like to visit the university again soon.

“It’s a huge honor,” Morrison said. “I was not expecting it. I was just thinking about this, and it’s really sort of a validation of hard work and effort that I put into projects.”

Morrison hopes the award and his success inspires current IAKM students.

“If they pick something they are passionate about and really work hard at it,” he said, “they can build something people can use.”

Contact Walter Doerschuk at [email protected].