Category Archives: Accolade

Roberta wins ERC Consolidator grant!

Wow – Roberta Sinatra just won an ERC Consolidator grant! We congratulate her with all our hearts to this once-in-a-lifetime achievement!

An ERC Consolidator grant comes with 2 million EUR for 5 years and enables “a scientist who wants to consolidate their independence by establishing a research team and continuing to develop a success career in Europe”.

Roberta’s excellence, her interdisciplinarity, and her proposed topic just hit the right nerve:

scAIence: Quantifying AI-infused Science

The goal of scAIence is to quantify whether, how, and with which implications generative AI is changing how scientists write, communicate, and diffuse their science, and to explore rigorously the opportunities, dangers, and implications of scientists augmenting their scientific writing with AI. The focus of scAIence is quantitative and based on large-scale data and controlled experiments, since we lack a systematic analysis of AI-generated science: All our evidence regarding AI-generated writing is anecdotal or based on small case studies.

Within the scAIence project, Roberta and her team will deploy a novel computational social science approach, based on a wide array of quantitative disciplines, leveraging large-scale databases of human-generated information and controlled experiments. scAIence will break new ground by (i) introducing the quantitative methods required to understand AI-infused science, (ii) redefining metrics and models to account for AI-generated content in science, and (iii) delivering quantitative scientific insights into how AI is changing the diffusion of science. Taken together, scAIence will lay the scientific foundation for the quantitative study of AI-infused science.

The scAIence project is planned to take place at Roberta’s main affiliation SODAS at Copenhagen University – follow Roberta for upcoming hiring calls for PhD students and Postdocs. 

Our Mastodon server is one year old today

Exactly one year ago Michael has set up the Mastodon server, to allow the data/network science community, broadly defined, to build up a new online home after Twitter’s demise. In this time has become a vibrant online community with almost 300 people who have joined from all over the world, from various disciplines or from industry. As the first account on the server, also NERDS have set up shop there: After just a year we have successfully amassed almost 500 followers:

However, the point of Mastodon is not quantity, but quality. As Twitter has become X, a platform now known for hate speech and misinformation, we are prioritizing Mastodon and are posting all our news there first. We still keep our X account, as a large part of our scientific community has not yet moved away from X, but we encourage everyone to just try out Mastodon. While Mastodon is not perfect, it is better than other platforms we know, not least because of its extraordinary engagement and civility which makes it great for scientists. If you are interested, sign up here, it’s super easy:

To learn more about, see:

NERDS win 2 Villum Synergy grants

NERDS members Michele Coscia and Roberta Sinatra each won a Villum Synergy research grant, funded by the Villum Foundation! Each of the grants will provide us funding for one Postdoc.

Current view from the NERDS lair

Michele Coscia’s project Past social network reconstruction from material culture data is in collaboration with the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University. This data-driven project establishes interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists and network scientists to create the first integrated computational workflow for reconstructing past social networks from material culture data. It will enhance archaeological method and theory for network data representation of material culture data and for testing assumptions about how this data reflects past social networks. It will also enrich network science: archaeology provides network data with critical incompleteness issues but that is also rich in metadata. The project will enable studies on the diversity of social networks of our species, and how processes evolve over long time periods beyond the scope of current social network studies.

Roberta Sinatra’s project Quantifying the Prevalence and Diffusion of Generative AI in Science is in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. This project fills these critical knowledge gaps by bridging expertise in computer science and the sociology of science, to study the prevalence of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT in science. It will analyze trends in the usage and prevalence of LLMs across scientific disciplines and will predict the diffusion and adoption of generative AI in scientific networks. The project will help prepare the scientific enterprise for the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI.

Another smashing DataBeers Copenhagen, with 170 participants

Four years after we brought DataBeers to Denmark, another successful event was held this week in Copenhagen!

DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative active in dozens of cities worldwide, that brings data scientists and data enthusiasts from industry, government, academia and the arts to knowledge share. The DataBeers teams organise events and invite speakers to tell their experience with data: analysis, visualisations, applied data, data journalism etc., always in an informal and agile manner.

This week’s event was again co-organized by NERDS (especially Sandro and Arianna), and also featured Michael as one of the speakers with a magic-themed talk on “Stories from 1001 paths (over Dybbølsbro)” – slides available here [pdf]:

The event had a fantastic vibe, great speakers, and a psyched audience including many ITU students. Apart from the four speakers from academia and industry, it also featured a scientific presentation karaoke. Here some visual impressions from the event, which this time took place in Absalon, a locally famous church-turned-into-community-center:

DataBeersCPH has now grown to accommodate 170 participants, with the event’s free tickets having become sold out one week before the event, mainly through word-of-mouth. The event’s free beers and its venue were charitably sponsored by the DDSA, DTU, ITU, and KU.

Here’s two cheers for many more successful DataBeers in Copenhagen to spread our love for data and science (and beers)! 🍻 🍻

OECD recommendations for mobility policies based on NERDS research

The OECD/ITF (International Transport Forum) released the document “Towards the Light: Effective Light Mobility Policies in Cities” with policy recommendations towards more sustainable cities through light mobility such as bicycles, scooters, or micro vehicles.


In this report, a whole section called “Go faster! Develop high-quality wheeled light mobility infrastructure that fits the context” is based almost entirely on several of our NERDS papers on bicycle/micromobility network analysis. The section discusses how “a strong effort should be made to ensure that the newly created network is connected to the greatest extent possible and allows access to important and popular points of interest”, and how data-driven approaches that we developed are “important tools” that can complement traditional manual approaches:

Further, the report cites a previous study of ours on the perceived distribution of road space,

[Cars] have become so entrenched in the urban landscape that the general public often systematically overestimates the amount of mobility space allocated to non-motorised modes – while underestimating the space allocated to the car (Szell, 2018). Additionally, much of the violence they impose on all other road users is normalised and remains unaddressed in public and policy discourses.

and concludes:

Policy makers and planners need to remove their car blinders and cure their car blindness so that they can finally see the light.

We wholeheartedly agree and are happy that our research is useful for sustainable policy-making in an international context. (The International Transport Forum is an inter-governmental organisation within the OECD system, and is the only global body with a mandate for all modes of transport. It acts as a think tank for transport policy issues and organises the annual global summit of transport ministers.)

Roundup of NERDS at IC2S2

This year’s IC2S2, the 9th International Conference on Computational Social Science is now over, and it was a smashing success! The conference brought together over 700 people from dozens of countries, doubling in size compared to the previous edition. With 50% PhD and 30% Postdoc participants, the Computational Social Science community is young and refreshingly open, which could also be seen from the diversity of keynote speakers, spanning from evolutionary biologists to tourism/transport researchers. This community is the opposite of calcified – rather, it brought together experts and ideas from different fields for a true, unpolitical exchange and cross-pollination. This is how science should be done.

We fully echo the sentiments of the president of the new International Society for Computational Social Science (ISCSS), Duncan Watts, who concluded in the IC2S2 town hall meeting: We don’t have clear boundaries. Whoever identifies as computational social scientist should come to IC2S2.

NERDS played a significant role at IC2S2. We co-organized the conference, chaired several sessions, held a successful tutorial, and gave 2 lightning talks, 7 parallel talks, and presented 13 posters. See the full list of our activities here: NERDSIC2S2.PDF

Finally, let us share our visual impressions of NERDS@IC2S2:

See you next year at IC2S2 2024 in Philadelphia!

Welcome Anders to NERDS!

Anders Giovanni Møller graduation at ITU

NERDS welcomes a new member: Anders Giovanni Møller. Starting today, Anders will be a PhD student working with Luca Aiello on the COCOONS project at the intersection between NLP and complex systems. Anders can boast a long tenure at ITU, and last week he got his Master’s degree in Data Science. He was selected for a keynote address to the whole 2023 cohort of ITU MSc graduates during the graduation ceremony — a very moving and inspiring speech! Welcome, Anders!

Social media updates: 1000 Twitter followers and Mastodon account

We have reached 1000 Twitter followers, around 3.5 years after having created our profile at: 🐦

To celebrate, we have also created a Mastodon account: 🐘 
For now we are cross-posting between Twitter and Mastodon (and aim to be reactive in both environments), so no matter where you follow us you will receive the same info and be able to stay in touch.

If you like our research, or are interested in our events, job opportunities, or news, make sure to follow us. Happy tweeting/tooting!  

Roberta Sinatra becomes Full Professor at Copenhagen University (SODAS)

Today one of our group’s founders, Roberta Sinatra, became full professor, assuming a new position at the Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) at Copenhagen University (KU):

Congratulations to Roberta – very well deserved!

Having been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor just two years ago, Roberta’s new full professor position hallmarks a stellar career. At SODAS Roberta will be steering the center, head its new ethics committee, and be involved in the center’s new MSc programme in Social Data Science, among other things.

Roberta will have a new main workplace at KU’s city campus (Øster Farimagsgade 5), but luckily she will remain affiliated with us NERDS, so we will keep enjoying her expertise and occasional company in the future. To accommodate this change, Michael Szell will take over her role of group coordinator.

We congratulate Roberta and look forward to many fruitful collaborations with KU!