Category Archives: Team change

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.