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Dissertation Improvement Grant Awarded to Lab Member Zack Almquist and his Advisor Carter Butts

Published on February 25, 2013 by

Zack W. Almquist, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and his advisor Carter T. Butts (Professor, Departments of Sociology and Statistics), have recently been awarded a NSF Dissertation Improvement grant from the Methodology, Measurement and Statistics Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences. This work will support Almquist’s ongoing research on dynamic network models with joint edge/vertex evolution. Specifically, this project will improve and extend the current state of the art in missing and sampled data methods for dynamic network models. These methods will allow improved inference and prediction for dynamic social network processes (e.g., online social networks, disaster response networks, and sexual contact networks), problems of immediate importance to sociologists, statisticians, computer scientists, demographers, epidemiologists, and public policy researchers. In addition to the development of new methodology, this research will involve validation on real-world case studies, such as the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response, of immediate importance to practitioners and the general public.  Almquist is a member of the Networks, Computation, and Social Dynamics Lab (www.ncasd.org) at UCI, and is a graduate fellow of the UCI Center for Networks and Relational Analysis (www.relationalanalysis.org).  His research focuses on the development of new techniques for the modeling of social networks, large-scale network analysis, and spatial demography.

 
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Butts Speaks at NIPS 2012 Workshop

Published on December 29, 2012 by

NCASD Lab PI Carter Butts was an invited speaker at the Workshop on Algorithmic and Statistical Approaches for Large Social Network data which took place on December 7, 2012 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada alongside NIPS 2012. Butts talked about the Challenges and Directions in Modeling Large-scale Networks. The workshop was organized by NCASD collaborators under the MURI project Scalable Methods for the Analysis of Network-based Data.

 
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Spiro et al. Win Best Student Paper Award

Published on December 29, 2012 by

Emma Spiro, along with coauthors Christopher DuBois and Carter Butts, won the Best Student Paper Award at the recent Workshop on Social Network and Social Media Analysis: Methods, Models and Applications at the 26th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2012) held on December 8, 2012 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  The paper Waiting for a Retweet: Modeling Waiting Times in Information Propagation looks at variability in the waiting times between Twitter messages and retweets based on social, content, and contextual factors.

 
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Butts Speaks at National Academy of Sciences Conference

Published on December 13, 2012 by

NCASD Lab PI Carter Butts was an invited speaker at the US/Japan Frontiers of Science Conference, jointly supported by the Kavli Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences.  The Frontiers of Science Conference brings together young scientists from across the disciplines who are working on topics at the forefront of scientific progress.  Butts’s talk on “The Aftermath of Disasters” reviewed the current state of knowledge regarding the social processes that occur during and immediately following emergencies and disasters, including research on emergent networks and informal communication conducted by the HEROIC Project.  HEROIC and the NCASD Lab team are pleased to have had the opportunity to share our findings with the broader scientific community.

 
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New HEROIC Research Highlight – Superstorm Sandy

Published on November 28, 2012 by

In recent work, the HEROIC team performed an exploratory analysis of online conversation surrounding Superstorm Sandy. The team looked at Twitter posts by the general public as well as official government emergency management organizations and other targeted accounts of interest.

A few of the lessons learned from this research include:

  • Twitter functions as a tool for risk communication, with heightened communication during the most critical points of a crisis event.
  • Consistent with previous research, few organizations have directed communications with followers, but instead use Twitter as a sort of redundant, broadcast mechanism.
  • There is evidence that patterns for content posting are emerging, as organizations include hashtags and links as part of their routine communication activities in disaster.

See the online research highlight for more information:

Spiro, E., Sutton, J., Johnson, B., Fitzhugh, S. and Butts, C. (2012). “Superstorm Sandy: Looking at the Twitter Response.” Online Research Highlight. http://heroicproject.org

 

 
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Spiro to Present at NIPS Workshop

Published on November 27, 2012 by

Project member Spiro will present preliminary work exploring differences in retweet waiting times between hazard and non-hazard tweets at the Workshop on Social Network and Social Media Analysis: Methods, Models and Applications held in conjunction with Neural Information Processing Systems conference (NIPS 2012) in Lake Tahoe, Nevada next week.

 
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PI Sutton Presents at CSEPP Meeting

Published on October 30, 2012 by

HEROIC Pi Jeannette Sutton presented “Online Informal Communications during the Waldo Canyon Fire: Colorado Springs, CO 2012″ at the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program Public Affairs Meeting, held on October 24, 2012 at the Colorado State Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office.  This presentation focused on official communications directed to the public via Twitter during the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, and the public response of retweeting.

 
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NCASD alum Marcum joins NIH

Published on October 22, 2012 by

NCASD Lab alum Chris Marcum has accepted a position at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Marcum will be advising the social network methods group as a methodologist and staff scientist in the intramural research program at the National Human Genome Research Institute. His research will continue to focus on aging, health, and personal networks.

 
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NCASD Lab Presents at Annual ASA Meeting

Published on August 30, 2012 by

The NCASD Lab was well-represented at this year’s American Sociological Association meeting.  Current and former center members presented seven talks at the Joint Japan/North America Mathematical Sociology Meeting held prior to the ASA.  Lb members also presented papers at the ASA conference itself.  In addition to presenting the group’s own work, Lab PI Butts served as organizer for the three mathematical sociology sessions at the ASA meeting.  The members of the NCASD Lab are pleased to be able to contribute to the ongoing vitality of mathematical sociology as a field, both in the US and worldwide.

Lab PI Butts presented new work on the application of spectral theory to feedback centrality scores.  Feedback centrality scores are used to measure power, status, and influence in many kinds of networks, and are the basis for applications such as Google’s ranking of web sites.  Butts’s work shows how spectral theory can be used to provide a unified understanding of how these measures behave, and to explain when and why very different types of power-related processes sometimes lead to very similar outcomes.

Lab member Emma Spiro presented work on self-disclosure norms on Facebook. A key component of self-presentation is the decision to reveal or conceal information about one’s person or circumstances. The online environment provides a unique opportunity for comparative study of such privacy-related behavior, both because of its relative newness and because of the opportunities it affords for systematic behavioral measurement on a global scale. The project users data from a probability sample of over 1 million Facebook users, in order to relate online privacy awareness behaviors in 217 countries to the social, political, and economic factors that shape the context of social interaction.

Lab member Sean Fitzhugh presented work on developing more efficient link-trace methods for locating subpopulations within a network. Using a sample of nearly 130,000 individuals from data scraped from MeetUp.com, Fitzhugh and coauthors demonstrate the utility of a modified link-trace search they call a preferential link-trace. Not only does it afford substantial efficiency gains over a tradition link-trace search, but it allows for estimation of the total population size and size of the subpopulation of interest. Using the preferential link-trace, they found members associated with the Occupy Wall Street social movement much faster than with conventional link-trace searches.

 
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HEROIC Online Research Highlight

Published on August 30, 2012 by

In recent work, the HEROIC team performed an exploratory analysis of online conversation surrounding the Waldo Canyon fire which started on June 23, 2012, three miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The team looked at Twitter posts by the general public as well as official government emergency management organizations.

A few of the lessons learned from this research include:

  • When an event occurs local organization gain large numbers of followers.
  • Establishing a social media strategy pre-event is important. Organizations should not judge attention demand for social media during non-event periods.
  • Original content tends to be produced by local organizations, while retweeted content tends to come from non-locals

See the online research highlight for more information:

Spiro, E., Sutton, J., Johnson, B., Fitzhugh, S., and Butts, C. (2012). “HEROIC Team Explores Waldo Canyon Wildfire in Colorado.” Online Research Highlight. http://heroicproject.org

 
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