The NCASD Lab welcomes new member Nicole Pierski to the research group. Pierski, who holds an undergraduate degree from NYU, is an incoming Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology, with interests in technology, culture, and social networks. Including Pierski, six doctoral students are current lab members, working on topics ranging from the study of emergent organization in disasters to statistical methods for the analysis of social network data. We are pleased to welcome her to our research community.
Congratulations to lab member and Sociology Ph.D. student Ryan Acton on completing his doctoral degree, and transitioning to his new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Acton will join a select group of interdisciplinary researchers as part of a new UMass initiative on computational social science, continuing his work on social networks, online behavior, and research methodology. During his tenure at the NCASD Lab, Acton was a key figure in many projects, including research on emergent coordination following Hurricane Katrina, GIS-based modeling of large-scale networks, and data collection from online sources. His ScrapeR package for web-based data collection in R has become a popular tool for automating data collection both locally and in the broader R community, and is freely available via the CRAN online archives. We congratulate Dr. Acton on his new position, and look forward to further collaborations with him in the years ahead.
We are pleased to announce that Lab PI Carter Butts has been named the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Leo A. Goodman award of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Methodology. The Goodman award is the highest honor granted to young methodological researchers within the discipline, recognizing cumulative contributions to sociological methodology by a scholar who is no more than 15 years past the completion of his or her Ph.D. The award was announced at the 2010 Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta, GA, with renowned sociologist and statistician Leo Goodman himself on hand to present the award on behalf of the Section. Section Chair Tim Liao, speaking for the awards committee, highlighted Butts’s contributions to methods for the analysis of social network and life history data, as well as his contributions to software and computational tools for network analysis. Butts’s research in this area has appeared in a number of academic journals, including Sociological Methodology, Social Networks, the Journal of Statistical Software, and Science, and his statistical and software tools have been applied in areas ranging from organizational analysis and the study of disasters to the modeling of HIV.
Lab PI Carter Butts and members Chris Marcum, Zack Almquist, Emma Spiro, Lorien Jasny, and Sean Fitzhugh will present their ongoing research at the 105th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Carter Butts will be presenting at the “Innovative Quantitative Methods” session of the Section on Methodology. He will present a new approach to the analysis of populations of networks, using a Bayesian framework. Applicable to samples of families, groups, organizations, or other structures, this method allows the analyst to identify common structural tendencies and test hypotheses involving differences between populations of networks.
Chris Marcum will preside over the “Social Ties and Aging” roundtable. He uses a combination of the American Time Use data set and an empirical Bayes approach to test the hypothesis that the relationship between age and spending time with others is patterned by relationship type.
Zack Almquist will present “Cognitive Models of Group Identification: The Case of Regional Self-identification” in the Mathematical Sociology: “New Developments in Mathematical Sociology” section at ASA. Zack’s presentation will describe several cognitive model-based approaches to predicting regional identification in the US.
Emma Spiro will also present work at the “New Developments in Mathematical Sociology” section. She will present her research on the effect of network dynamics on brokerage processes. Her work explores the behavior of traditional static measures of brokerage in dynamic environments and extends this work to provide a new measure of brokerage that incorporates changes in network structure.
Lorien Jasny will present at the section “Mathematical Sociology at Key Intersections of the Discipline.” She will build on her work from Sunbelt by using a dynamic approach to examine structure in propositional networks of political behavior. She will also formulate appropriate baseline models for this data.
Sean Fitzhugh will also present at the “Key Intersections of the Discipline” section. His work examines radio communication networks of organizational units responding to the World Trade Center disaster of 2001 and their differing robustness patterns. He finds that among organizations with day-to-day involvement with disaster response, organizational roles are key to predicting actors’ importance in preserving network connectivity. These roles lose their predictive value among organizations without such involvement with disaster response.
Lab member Zack Almquist recently presented “US Demographic and Census Data in R” at the useR!2010 conference at NIST in Gaithersburg, MD. Abstract and slides are available here.
Fellow STATNET developer and frequent collaborator with the NCASD lab Mark Handcock was an invited speaker at useR!2010. For relevant materials click [http://user2010.org/Invited/index.html here]].
Lab member Christopher Marcum presented findings from the Improvisation in Emergency Response Project at the Annual Hazards Workshop in Bloomfield, Colorado. This project is an NSF funded research initiative charged with understanding the relationship between improvisational and conventional behavior in uncertain situations, especially during disaster response scenarios. Our case studies span two major U.S. domestic disasters—the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City and the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, two types of response agencies—police and fire, and two types of data sources—informant reports and radio transcripts. This is an extensive comparative study of responses to anthropogenic disasters. The analyses summarized here come from a variety of research methods including simple cross-tabs to complex simulations and relational event modeling. The datasets used in this research are packaged as R data objects, complete with documentation, for future public distribution.
Several lab members presented research at this year’s annual Sunbelt Conference.
Zack Almquist presented “Predicting Regional Self-Identification from Spatial Network Models” which employs large-scale spatial network simulations in order to predict regional identification in the US.
Sean Fitzhugh’s work on network robustness in the context of the World Trade Center disaster response was presented by Butts. He finds that organizations with day-to-day involvement with disaster response are less robust to loss of personnel with coordinative roles than are organizations without such involvement with disaster response.
Lorien Jasny concluded her stay in Italy as a visiting fellow at Trento University as she worked on networks of immigrant advocacy groups with Professor Mario Diani. Her Sunbelt presentation looked at structure in propositional networks of political behavior and formulated appropriate baseline models.
Emma Spiro presented research on two projects. Her work extends traditional measures of brokerage by exploring brokerage behaviour and opportunity in dynamic networks. Her work also includes a new measure of dynamic brokerage as she she demonstrated in a case study of interorganizational collaboration. She also used data from a micro-blogging service to examine changes in users’ local networks following exogenous, hazard-related events. She utilized the longitudinal nature of the data to examine seasonality as well as endogenous and exogenous variation in the pace of change of local network dynamics.
Lab PI Butts will present with assistance from lab members Zack Almquist, Sean Fitzhugh, and Emma Spiro at Duke University’s 2010 Political Networks Conferenceworkshop on Network Analysis with statnet. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, May 19th and will serve as an introduction to network analysis with practical applications in individual, organizational, and international relations. Necessary data files and instructions can be found here.
Lab PI Butts will be speaking to the Stanford University MAPSS Colloqium this Thursday, May 13, on the use of relational event models to study social interaction. This talk will feature work from the NCASD Lab on statistical models for inferring behavior patterns from relational dynamics, and will highlight our recent findings regarding communication during the WTC disaster.
The most recent issue of the Calit2 Interface Magazine features an interview with Lab PI Butts on the societal implications of social media. Recent research by Butts and Cross on the dynamics of blog networks is also highlighted. This and previous copies of Interface Magazine can be found here.