Three years of NERDS

NERDS was founded exactly 3 years ago by three young assistant professors and one associate professor, to be a reference point at ITU for the research on network and data science applications to social systems. At 3 years old, we have learned to say our name when asked, to not touch hot objects, and to ask “Why?”. We have also grown to a staggering 14 members and have become a vibrant research group with seminars, visiting interns, and fun social gatherings.

On our journey we have made many local friends and strengthened our ties, from DTU and KU (SODAS) to organizations like Supercykelstier. We have also impressed several funding agencies on the way, including VILLUM Foundation, Carlsberg Foundation, DIREC, or the Danish Ministry of Transport – so much that they entrusted us with enough funding to grow our research group further. BTW: We have an open call for 3 Phds/Postdocs.

More of our most important achievements so far:

  • Publications: We have published 46 papers, some of them in top venues like Nature or PNAS, on as diverse topics as bicycle network growth, gender inequality, or multilayer networks.
  • Organization: Together with KU ad DTU we brought DataBeers to Copenhagen and held two successful (booked out) events so far with 150 attendants each. After a pandemic break we look forward to reboot Databeers soon! More recently, Roberta became co-lead of the networks and graphs collaboratory at the newly established AI Pioneer centre.
  • Scientific exchange: After kicking off successfully our ongoing NERDS lunch seminar series in 2019, we have now restarted the series. Let us know if you are interested to present to us!
  • Outreach: Michael’s award-winning data visualization project “What the Street!?” got incorporated into the permanent exhibition of Futurium, Berlin. With our students we also developed other platforms, such as and, and we authored several public opinion pieces engaging in policy discussions. We are also maintaining an active Twitter account, connecting internationally with researchers and industry: @nerdsitu
  • Media Coverage: We were covered by top international media such as Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Fast Company, and got interviewed by Captain Kirk.

What does the near future hold?

  • We will hire more postdocs and PhD students with our newly acquired grants
  • We will soon say goodbye to our long-term members Bojan and Yanmeng
  • We will celebrate one of us becoming Full Professor this year
  • We are awaiting and continually submitting even more grant applications to expand
  • Organizing more DataBeers and social events

Looking back to our goals 3 years ago, we have all reason to be proud to have 1) built up a flourishing network of Denmark-based network/data science research groups, connecting ITU, KU, DTU, and others, 2) successfully impressed several funding agencies and public stakeholders to engage with us solving societal problems with our research. We will continue along this road, developing further our group in a safe and fun environment.

Live long and prosper 🖖
Luca, Michele, Tiago, Bojan, Ane, Luca 2, Vedran, Roberta, Sandro, Michael, Anastassia, Yanmeng