Category Archives: Accolade

NERDS is Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Danish Young Academy of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters has chosen out of 62 nominated research environments our research group NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) as

Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Academy ceremoniously awarded the title and a prize on June 1st to our group’s nominators, Anastassia and Tiago, who motivated their nomination as follows:

In our group, we openly talk about the struggles of academia, such as stress, high pressure, competitiveness, gender, and racial biases – and about the struggles of our personal lives, such as balancing care duties and research work. As young academics, NERDS is the best company that we could wish for: individuals with curious minds, supporting each other in their personal quests for knowledge and for the betterment of society, which is what ultimately drives us all.

See the Danish Young Academy’s explanation here: http://www.youngacademy.dk/Aktiviteter/Forskningsmiljopris.aspx
Among other points, they write:

In just 3 years, NERDS has managed to create an exemplary academic environment and unity. The group shows that seniority and large center grants are not necessarily the only prerequisites for a good research environment.  

Given this title, we have been asked about our “secret”. Having experienced our fair share of abusive environments, these seem some reasonable guidelines:

  1. Be nice to each other. Corollary: Surround yourself with the right people, and be very sure to not let toxic people into your environment.
  2. Psychological safety is most important. Mistakes are expected, especially in science. It is normal to get stuck in the cloud and we must support each other through it. Disagreements are expected too, and a diversity of perspectives helps resolve them amicably.
  3. Avoid having one boss. Research groups where one person is in power invites abuse. Keep inequalities to a minimum, make important decisions together.
  4. Make sure people have all the freedom to mingle and build up a support network. This will make them strong and protect them from academia’s harassment networks.

Thank you Anastassia and Tiago for the nomination, thank you all NERDS for being so excellent to each other, thank you to our department head Peter Sestoft for the amazing support and efforts to create a great as possible environment on the department level, and cheers to the Danish Young Academy! 🍸

We will do our best to continue living up to this honorable title.

Roberta became co-lead in the AI Pioneer Centre

Yesterday Denmark’s new Pioneer Center for Artificial Intelligence was opened ceremonially, where Roberta took part in a panel discussion. Roberta’s role in the centre will be the new co-load of the Networks and Graphs Collaboratory together with Sune Lehmann.

The Pioneer Centre for Artificial Intelligence focuses on fundamental research, and within an interdisciplinary framework, develops platforms, methods, and practices addressing society’s greatest challenges. It brings together world-class artificial intelligence research in Denmark.

We are excited to see the novel science the centre will enable and produce, and which opportunities it will bring for attracting more world-class research to the country.

Luca Aiello wins Carlsberg Young Researcher Fellowships

Luca Aiello was one of the recipients of this year’s Carlsberg Young Researcher Fellowships.


The Carlsberg Young Researcher Fellowship funds three-year fellowships for newly appointed tenured associate professors to establish an independent research group and forming an international network.

Luca’s winning proposal was awarded with DKK 5M:
COCOONS: COllective COordination through ONline Social media

In the coming decades, a defining task for humanity will be to solve global challenges through mass coordination. The goal of the project is to unveil the prime elements of social interactions that enable spontaneous coordination in the face of social dilemmas. It will do so by quantifying fundamental dimensions of social interactions with Natural Language Processing algorithms applied to online social media conversations, and to leverage principles from complex systems science to find how these dimensions are linked to cooperation outcomes in social networks.

We are excited about Luca’s success and are looking forward to welcome one new PhD student and two postdocs that will be recruited starting October 2022. Stay tuned for upcoming job calls.

A dream come true for Luca Aiello 🖖

Our very own Luca Aiello was interviewed by none other than William “Captain Kirk” Shatner on his recent dreams research, in Shatner’s show “I Don’t Understand”:

https://www.rt.com/shows/i-don-t-understand-with-william-shatner/532878-dream-analysis-social-science/

Watch the 26 minute interview to see Luca baffling and exciting Shatner by answering his burning questions, such as:

What in heaven’s name is computational science doing with dreams?

What methodology did you use to give us an algorithm about dreams?

Say you meant to say “maybe” and you said “baby”, one would have said prior to your science “That was a Freudian slip” – you don’t work that way?

It could be Hitler all over again?

Could you understand why an individual does not take a vaccine?

No doubt this interview was a NERDS dream come true! 🖖

Funding for bicycle network analysis by the Danish Ministry of Transport

Today we received the happy news that the Danish Ministry of Transport is funding our project Netværksanalyse af den danske cykelinfrastruktur (“Network analysis of the Danish cycling infrastructure”): https://www.trm.dk/nyheder/2021/aftale-om-nye-cykelstier-i-alle-dele-af-landet/

This funding will allow us to hire cycling network and urban planning/spatial data expert Ane Rahbek Vierø for a 3-year PhD on the topic, to start Jan 2022, supervised by Michael Szell. Our bicycle network research so far has focused on urban bicycle networks, so this funding will finally allow us to widen our perspective to the regional and national scale. We are looking forward to welcoming Ane in January and to help improving the (already quite good but certainly not perfect) Danish bicycle network!

In more detail, our plans for this project are the following:

In this research project we will apply state of the art metrics and tools from network analysis on Danish open data bicycle infrastructure networks collected from e.g. OpenStreetMap, and additionally incorporate knowledge from cycling planners and mobility researchers, to develop a scientific, evidence-based framework to suggest where to add new network connections or other interventions for improving sustainable bicycle infrastructure. While there are generally good cycling conditions in Denmark, there are many areas that have a quite poor connectivity. Using access to everyday amenities as a baseline can also show that it is not enough to install bicycle lanes – they need to be in the right location and connect to the right places. This research will explore weighting the network according to different attributes to get a more detailed understanding of how connectivity and accessibility might vary for different types of cyclists (in line with Levels of Traffic Stress). We will also use this weighted network to examine cyclists’ access to everyday amenities and facilities, in order to, for example, identify areas where you cannot comfortably cycle to basic amenities (inspired by the 15-minute city). Further, we will explore the effect of high stress intersections on network connectivity for vulnerable road user demographics such as children, and incorporate the distribution of people and workplaces in the analysis. Finally, we aim to develop an interactive web mapping tool that visualizes the results and has the ability to run analyses based on individual demographic variables or preferences of cyclists.

Roberta Sinatra receives YSA award

Today Roberta Sinatra received the 2020 Young Scientist Award for Socio- and Econophysics!

The Young Scientist Award for Socio- and Econophysics is given once a year. It pursues the goal of promoting the work of young researchers and recognizing outstanding scientific contributions that use methods derived from physics to contribute to a better understanding of socio-economic problems.

The award committee has decided to award the prize shared to:

Dr. Roberta Sinatra,

for her outstanding contributions to understanding the social dynamics of science, human mobility and behaviour, on the grounds of network science and statistical physics methods,

AND

Dr. Manlio de Domenico,

for his outstanding and insightful work on multilayer networks and their applications to the field of socio-economic systems.

🎉We congratulate the two recipients! 🎉

Prominent media coverage of our Nature paper

Our recently published, NERDS-involved Nature paper “The universal visitation law of human mobility” has received some prominent, international media coverage in the last month. Here a selection of news articles that explain the paper’s findings and implications:


Une loi universelle régit la fréquentation des villes

Die Vorhersagbarkeit menschlicher Bewegungsmuster


Das Universalgesetz der Straße

Door gegevens van mobiele telefoons weten we nu: stedelingen reizen niet vaak naar andere stadsdelen

Há um padrão universal na forma como as pessoas viajam nas cidades

Universelles Muster menschlicher Mobilität entdeckt

Roberta Sinatra wins Villum Young Investigators grant

Roberta Sinatra was one of the 19 recipients of this year’s Villum Young Investigators grant!

The Villum Young Investigator programme (YIP) focuses on attracting and retaining talented young Danish and international researchers at Danish universities. The aim is to support the development of high-level international research environments in the universities.

Roberta’s winning proposal was awarded with DKK 6M:
Bias Explained: Pushing Algorithmic Fairness with Models and Experiments 

Algorithms for ranking scientific information have an issue: they use citations, which are ingrained with human biases. Therefore, their output is also biased, creating inequalities and raising concerns of discrimination. This project aims to uncover the mathematical bias mechanisms that drive different citation trajectories given same quality, and to use them for creating fair algorithms.

We are overwhelmed with joy for Roberta’s success, and are looking forward to her future groundbreaking research. The grant will allow the recruitment of one PhD student and two postdocs – so stay tuned for upcoming job calls.

Link: https://veluxfoundations.dk/en/19-new-villum-young-investigators-in-2021

Roberta Sinatra receives CSS award

Today Roberta Sinatra received this year’s Complex Systems Society Junior Scientific Award!

The award was given for Roberta’s

pioneer contributions to the science of science and success, having had an impact in multiple fields, from network science to computational social science and scientometrics

The award is given once a year to two young CSS researchers, aimed at recognizing extraordinary scientific achievements: https://cssociety.org/community/css-awards