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!

Back from lockdown with 2 papers

NERDS are back from the lockdown with two three new papers published today:

  1. Distortions of political bias in crowdsourced misinformation flagging, by Michele Coscia and Luca Rossi, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface

    Luca writes more about the paper here:
    And here Michele’s take:

  2. Extracting the multimodal fingerprint of urban transportation networks, by Luis Guillermo Natera Orozco, Federico Battiston, Gerardo Iñiguez, and Michael Szell, published in Transport Findings

    In this paper we analyze urban transport network layers of multiple cities and come up with a multiplex-network based method to construct a “fingerprint” of how these layers connect. This gives insights and a classification on the multimodal potential of cities (how their modes of transport are connected).

Update June 11th: Make that one more:

3. Generalized Euclidean Measure to Estimate Network Distances, by Michele Coscia, published in ICWSM-2020

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:



Six months of NERDS

We have founded NERDS exactly 6 months ago to be a reference point at ITU for the research on network and data science applications to social systems. At 6 months old, we have already learned to sit up, to roll both ways, and soon we expect to crawl and also grow some teeth. More of our achievements so far:

  • Publications: We published five papers and three preprints:
    Paper 1) Multi-Party Media Partisanship Attention Score. Estimating Partisan Attention of News Media during election. Link
    Paper 2) A sociological study on fake news Link
    Paper 3) A mobility analysis of visitors to the Louvre Museum Link
    Paper 4) Discovering Communities of Community Discovery
    Paper 5) The Impact of Projection and Backboning on Network Topologies
    Preprint 1) An analysis of optimal bicycle network growth strategies: Link
    Preprint 2) A historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers: Link
    Preprint 3) A quantitative analysis of success and luck in creative careers: Link
  • Events: We got invited to/visited/presented at numerous events:
    Roberta: May 4 – Monte Carlo Prix Femme de l’année, July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Aug 29 – Cambridge Network Day, Sep 4 – Metascience Conference (Stanford), Sep 25 – Colloquium at SISSA (Trieste)
    Michele: July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Aug 27 – ASONAM (Vancouver)
    Luca: May 21 – Mandag Morgen talk (Bornholm), Sep 7 – Techfest Copenhagen
    Michael: May 23 – DataBeers Copenhagen, July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Oct 16 – Funders Forum on Sustainable Cities (Turin)
  • Organization: Together with KU ad DTU we brought DataBeers to Copenhagen and held two successful (booked out) events so far with 150 attendants each
  • Scientific exchange: We invited 4 expert speakers in the field to ITU, kicking off successfully our ongoing NERDS lunch seminar series
  • Editorial activities: Apart from our ongoing program committee activities, we co-edited a special issue on Science of Stories in PLOS ONE and on Human-Centric Data Science for Urban Studies in the International Journal of Geo-information
  • Outreach: Michael’s award-winning data visualization project “What the Street!?” got incorporated into the permanent exhibition of Futurium, Berlin, on Sep 5th. We are also maintaining an active Twitter account, connecting internationally with researchers and industry: @nerdsitu

What does the future hold?

  • We will welcome a new postdoc joining us on January 1st 2020
  • We look forward for our PhD student Obaida Hanteer to complete his thesis soon
  • We are awaiting and continually submitting grant applications to expand our group
  • We are waiting for reviews for multiple submitted papers
  • Organizing more DataBeers

Our long-term goal is 1) to build up a flourishing network of Denmark-based network/data science research groups, connecting ITU, KU, DTU, and others, 2) continue active collaboration with funding agencies and public stakeholders to solve societal problems with our research, and to further convey its importance to help us grow faster.

Live long and prosper 🖖
Roberta, Michael, Michele, Luca

First DataBeers Copenhagen was a smashing success

On May 23rd, the first DataBeers took place in Copenhagen, featuring 7-minute informal “data story” talks by five data scientists from academia and industry. The event, co-organized by NERDS members Roberta Sinatra and Michael Szell, became a smashing success with over 120 participants and 400 units of free beer consumed, filling up the historic Byens Lys cinema in freetown Christiania. Michael Szell’s first talk on the data visualization project What the Street!? was particularly well received by the energized crowd. From anarchist commune now to high society in Monaco two weeks earlier, NERDS are relentlessly spreading their research all over the world. 

DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative (currently in 31 cities), 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.

The Copenhagen edition is sponsored by SODAS @ KU and DTU Compute. We are always happy about sponsors, especially for beer – talk to us at
The next DataBeers Copenhagen is scheduled for Fall 2019. Follow us at @databeers_cph for updates. Stay tuned, and cheers! 🍻

Postdoc wanted!

Update 2019-06-21: This application is now closed.

We are looking for a postdoc in data/network science, to start in fall 2019. The postdoc will work in the NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) group at IT University of Copenhagen with Roberta Sinatra and Michael Szell. The group currently focuses on quantitative projects at the boundary of computational social science and network science, including science of science, social dynamics, urban sustainability, data visualization, and fundamental questions in complex systems.

We seek a researcher with strong quantitative background in fields such as statistical physics, applied mathematics, machine learning, network analysis, complex systems, urban computing, or other closely related fields. Our priority is to attract technically strong researchers who are interested in asking bold, new questions with data. A stated passion and experience in data analysis is a must, including excellent programing skills in Python or a similar language and experience handling large data sets.

The initial length is 12 months, full-time, with possibility to extend up to 3 years. Apart from research, a moderate amount of co-teaching is expected within the Data Science program. Postdoc salaries in Denmark are determined according to the collective agreement for academic staff employed by the State Sector. Researchers from abroad can request a reduced researcher taxation scheme.

If you are interested please contact Roberta Sinatra at