Category Archives: Team change

Ane Rahbek Vierø has joined NERDS

Happy new year! 🥳

We are thrilled to welcome Ane Rahbek Vierø to our research group!

Ane joins us as PhD student for 3 years, funded by the Danish Ministry of Transport for an application which she authored, supported by her new supervisor Michael Szell. She completed her Master’s degree in 2020 from Lund University on a thorough analysis of Copenhagen’s bicycle network, and has been working since then as research assistant at Aalborg University. Her background is in Geographical Information Science which is a great complement for our existing NERDS expertise. She is also well connected in the Danish cycling research community, having co-organized the recent CRBAM21, which will additionally strengthen our research group’s connections within Denmark.

Given her professional expertise in bicycle network analysis, her GIS background and procedural approach via Python, and her past experience – such as an internship in the cycling development team of the municipality of Copenhagen – she is the perfect person to undertake this ambitious PhD project: Network analysis of the Danish cycling infrastructure.

Together with our PhD student Anastassia, who works on a very similar topic and who also joined recently, we anticipate an increasing output in cycling research in the coming years. Our goal is not just producing research papers, but more importantly to improve the Danish cycling landscape locally, and to provide general insights and methods towards a modal shift to sustainable transport on the global level. 

Sandro Sousa has joined NERDS

We are delighted to welcome Sandro Sousa to our research group!

Sandro joins us as Postdoc coming from Queen Mary University of London. He recently completed his PhD in Complex Systems, on quantifying the heterogeneity of spatial systems through random walks on graphs with a particular interest on urban segregation.

Due to his Brazilian origins, before that he had worked on projects focusing on São Paulo, for example on social segregation, transport accessibility, or graph-based approaches to quantify topological changes in Sao Paulo’s public transport network at different spatial scales. Before his research career, he worked on IT consulting and data solutions for more than 7 years. Find more info about Sandro on his stylish webpage:

He is hired through our recently won VILLUM project, at NERDS he will therefore be focusing on topics of Science of Science and success together with Roberta Sinatra, including algorithmic fairness in research.

Anastassia Vybornova has joined NERDS

We are excited to welcome Anastassia Vybornova to our research group!

Anastassia joins us as PhD student from Vienna, Austria. She recently completed her Master degree jointly supervised at KU, BOKU Vienna, and at ITU by Michael Szell, accomplishing an outstanding thesis on Identifying and classifying gaps in the bicycle network of Copenhagen. She has won a competitive, ITU-supported PhD grant and will therefore be with us for (at least) 3 years. 

Anastassia’s background is a crazy mix of physics, environmental science, and transcultural communication, and she is educated in complex systems and network science – all of which makes her fit perfectly into NERDS.

Her PhD topic at NERDS will be Network analysis of urban transport networks: for a green transition from car-centricity to cycling, with Michael Szell as supervisor, for which her ideal combination of skills from physics, sustainability science, and programming will be indispensable. To taste an hors d’oeuvre of her work, see her talk in two weeks at CRBAM.

Yanmeng Xing has joined NERDS

We are thrilled to welcome Yanmeng Xing to our research group!

Yanmeng joins us as a visiting PhD Student for one year. Yanmeng is a PhD student in Complexity Science at Beijing Normal University who won a prestigious Chinese fellowship to spend one year abroad.

At NERDS he will be working on Science of Science topics, specifically investigating the effects of the pandemic on scientific collaborations and career dynamics.


Bojan Kostic has joined NERDS

We are thrilled to welcome Bojan Kostic to our research group!

Bojan joins us as Postdoc. He previously worked at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), in the Machine Learning for Smart Mobility group (MLSM), on the application of Data Science and Machine Learning in transport and mobility.

At NERDS he will be applying his skills in traffic data analytics and video processing using machine learning and computer vision, to deepen our understanding of interlinked human behavior in urban traffic.

Luca Maria Aiello has joined NERDS

We are thrilled to welcome Luca Maria Aiello to our research group!

Luca joins us as Associate Professor, coming from industry. He conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of computational social science, digital health, network science, and urban informatics, using large-scale digital data to quantify people’s well-being and build systems that can improve it. Currently, he is focusing on Natural Language Processing to quantify social and psychological experiences from text.

He had a few past professional roles: Senior Research Scientist at Bell Labs in Cambridge, UK; Research Fellow of the ISI Foundation in Turin; Research Scientist at Yahoo Labs Barcelona and London; visiting scientist at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems at Indiana University.

Check out Luca’s cool Webpage and find him on Twitter.

Vedran Sekara has joined NERDS

We are happy to announce that Vedran Sekara has joined NERDS!

Vedran SekaraVedran is a well-rounded scientist with a professional background from tech, academia, and the international development sector, starting at ITU as Assistant Professor. His work lies in the intersection between network science, ethics and computer science, harnessing the power of complex networks, massive datasets, machine learning and data visualization for public good. Vedran joined from UNICEF where he was a Principal Researcher focused on understanding how modern technologies, such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, impact our societies and its most vulnerable communities. His previous work has been covered in The Ecomomist, Forbes, Scientific American, and Die Zeit, and been featured on the cover of the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

At ITU Vedran plans to continue this stream of work by leveraging data from private, humanitarian and international sectors to understand data representativeness, algorithmic bias, and how to build equitable algorithms. We are super excited about all the ways Vedran will enrich our group, on both a social and professional level!

Check out Vedran’s cool Webpage and find him on Twitter.

Obaida Hanteer’s PhD defense “A Practical and Critical Look at the Problem of Community Discovery in Multilayer Networks”.

On June 11th, virtually in front of the Examination Committee – headed by Barbara Plank (IT University of Copenhagen) and with members Vito Latora (Queen Mary University of London) and Luca Aiello (Nokia Bell Labs) – Obaida Hanteer successfully defended his PhD.
Well done!

Obaida’s research took first a practical approach to community detection in the context of multilayer networks (mainly working with social media data [link, link]) and then, it stepped back and looked with a critical eye at the tools and the (often implicit) assumptions made by multilayer community detection methods [link, link]. His research, as acknowledged by the committee, was brave – in challenging the status quo and the assumptions of many well-established methods – and compelling helping us remembering the importance of asking questions about the tools and the methods we use.

After his experience at ITU Obaida accepted another interdisciplinary challenge by joining the Novo Nordisk Foundation – Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen where he’ll be working on applying multi-layer networks concepts to the interactions of human’s gut microbiome. We wish Obaida all the best for his future career!

New Postdoc: Tiago Oliveira Cunha

We welcome our first Postdoc, Tiago Oliveira Cunha!

Tiago is a thriving computer scientist joining us from University of Michigan. He is interested in success and health issues online, and he has both research and industry experience. At NERDS, Tiago will research social dynamics and success using his expertise in computational social science, data mining, machine learning, social network analysis, and health informatics.

This friday he will give an introductory seminar to his research from 12:15-13:00 in the 4E wing, titled: Are All Successful Communities Alike? Characterizing and Predicting the Success of Online Communities.
Link to event:



NERDS founded

NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS), a new research group at ITU’s Computer Science Department was just founded by Roberta Sinatra, Michael Szell, Luca Rossi, and Michele Coscia.

The agenda of the group is to apply jointly for funding opportunities, have a seminar series, host research visitors, outreach activities, and in general be a reference point at ITU for the research on network and data science applications to social systems.