39 women doing amazing research in computational social science

13 minute read

This post originally appeared on SAGE Ocean

Three months ago, I embarked on a new product manager role within SAGE Ocean, an initiative that supports social scientists to do better and more computational research. I had an idea of what that entailed, but like any new starter, I began exploring and organizing my knowledge in notes and mind maps. I was surprised and terrified when, one day, I discovered that all the research and researchers that I explored were men. Nothing bad about that, but I wondered where are the women in computational social science and why I did not come across them on my learning journey. 

I set out to find them! And I want to share with you this list of 39 female researchers that I was quite impressed with. They are all crushing it in the social sciences and humanities with their innovative use of computational methods and very cool explorations of cutting edge tech. Follow them, read their papers and collaborate! 

We know there are more women doing some fantastic research using computational methods. Help us add to this list by nominating people for inclusion in the comments section.

1. Agnes Horvat is a professor at Northwestern and has a varied background in physics, computer science, film, and media, she studies the behavior of crowds and maps the complex network connections in peer-to-peer platforms. Watch her keynote speech at IC2S2 2017 about collective intelligence in crowdfunding. 

2. Alexandra Balahur is a researcher with the European Commission Joint Research Center and a member of the Europe Media Monitor team of the Text and Data Mining Unit. She has a special interest in extracting and classifying sentiments, opinions and emotions expressed in documents written in different languages. Follow her on twitter @alexyys13.

3. Alexandra Olteanu, is a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, part of the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency, and Ethics (FATE) group in Montreal. Alexandra investigates the online world and pushing computational analysis to understand ethical behaviors and uses during crises @o_saja

4. Cecilia Mascolo is a full professor of mobile systems at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science in London. In a recently published paper, Cecilia and colleagues used large scale data sets to investigate the impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the regeneration of East London. Follow her on twitter @cecim.

5. Ceren Budak is a professor at the University of Michigan and researches social networks, news consumption and charity giving. In a recent paper, Ceren and colleagues looked at the effect of a simple design change (adding a level of threading for comments) on engagement with online newspapers. Follow her on twitter @cerenbudak or medium: ceren budak.

6. Christina Maimone is not exactly an academic researcher, but she has a key role in this ecosystem because she helps researchers working within data science to overcome technical obstacles, and she has done this for more than 10 years. She is definitely the expert of computational social science tools and methods and you can follow her on twitter @maimonecr.

7. Claire Cardie a professor at Cornell University mainly working on Natural Language Processing, especially the computational analysis and extraction of opinions in online communication. A recent piece of research that attracted my attention is an attempt of Claire and colleagues to create an intelligent machine that can paint! They combined Vision/Graphics and NLP to generate images in a series of steps, pretty much similar to what a human being would do when asked to produce an image of, say, a forest. Follow her on twitter @clairecardie.

8. Claudia Wagner a professor in Computer Science at University of Koblenz-Landau and the head of Data Science team at GESIS. One of the papers that attracted my attention was a 2016 study of gender asymmetries in Wikipedia; spoiler alert, there is a big gap. Follow her on twitter @clauwa

9. Cuihua Shen is a professor at the University of California, Davis, studying social dynamics in digital games and other online communities. In a recent study that attracted my attention, Cuihua explored two massive multiplayer online games to understand whether men advance faster than women. I was very pleasantly surprised— there is NO gap. Follow Cuihua Cindy Shen on medium.

10. Diane Litman is a professor of computer science at the University of Pittsburgh and co-director of the Intelligent Systems Program. She focuses on artificial intelligence and its application to a variety of areas including linguistics, education, reasoning and behavior. I’ve bookmarked to read one of her latest papers that examines whether speech recognition technologies are any good for evaluating those that are learning a second language. Follow her lab’s latest updates on @LRDC1.

11. Diyi Yang is still in her early research career as PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, but she already has several papers under her belt. Wishing her good luck with the viva, and to give you a flavor of her research, have a look at her thesis where she proposes the use of social theories and computational text analysis to define new and emergent roles that people take in online communities. Follow her updates on twitter @diyiy_cmu.

12. Donna Hoffman is professor of marketing at the George Washington School of Business, focusing on areas such as social media, online consumer behavior, and digital marketing trends. She co-founded and co-directed “one of the premiere research centers in the world for the study of electronic commerce” (New York Times). In a recent paper she explores how the Internet of Things is revolutionizing consumer behavior. Follow her on twitter @profhoff and medium Donna L. Hoffman.

13. Giulia Andrighetto is the coordinator of the Laboratory of Agent Based Social Simulation in Rome and her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on the nature and dynamics of social norms and the mechanisms fostering their compliance and diffusion. If you want to find out more about why some countries are more honest than others, read one of her recent papers comparing tax evasion tactics in Sweden and Italy. Follow her lab on twitter @LABSS_CNR.

14. Hanna Wallach is a senior researcher at Microsoft and adjunct associate Professor, UMass Amherst. Her research focuses on computational social science and in her own words, she develops machine learning and natural language processing methods for analyzing the structure, content, and dynamics of social processes. She is an avid promoter of the field, and if you want an intro into the difference between computer scientists and social researchers, check out her viewpoint piece: “Computational Social Science ≠ Computer Science + Social Data”. Follow her on twitter @hannawallach and medium Hanna Wallach.

15. Helen Margetts is a professor of society and internet and she was the Director of the Oxford Internet Institute until earlier this year. Her research focuses on digital era governance and politics. There is one article that I will definitely read and is quite pertinent to my current role — “The Data Science of Politics”, where she discusses methodologies in political science and how these could be expanded further with tool kits of large scale analysis from data science. Follow her on twitter @helenmargetts.

16. Huina Mao is a Liane Russell Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In a recent paper with colleagues, she used Natural Language Processing and geospatial clustering to extract place names from housing adverts online and mapping these out to the correct coordinates. Follow her on twitter @huinamao.

17. Hyunjin Seo is an associate professor at the University of Kansas, specializing in social media, network analysis and strategic communication. She’s had a most interesting life before she became an academic, working as a foreign correspondent for North Korea and other international media outlets. In a 2016 study, she looked at visual propaganda on Facebook and how Syrian government and the opposition used images to promote their agendas. Follow her on twitter @HyunjinSeo.

18. Inês Amaral is an associate professor at University of Coimbra and she wrote a chapter on Computational Social Science in the Encyclopedia of Big Data. Follow her on twitter @ciberesfera and medium: Inês Amaral.

19. Jana Diesner is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and leads the social computing lab. Her lab applies computational methods to analyze all kinds of corpora and understand human behavior. In a 2016 study, for example, she explored the coverage of documentaries in media outlets vs social media and found that within social media tweets and conversations, the discussions covered much more of the documentaries’ key topic than the news articles did. Follow her on twitter @janadiesner

20. Janet Pierrehumbert is a professor of language modelling at Oxford University and one of the founding members of the Association for Laboratory Phonology. She uses statistical analyses of large corpora, and computational modeling to understand how a variety of factors affect the shape and evolution of language. A fascinating study that Janet and a colleague just published, shows that we are very able to associate English words with the speaker gender, including novel words.

21. Janine Aronson is a professor in management information systems at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses around artificial intelligence (in finance), decision making, business intelligence, business analytics, knowledge management, and network optimization; and who would have thought, she is also a professional magician among many other skills and hobbies. A most excellent review she has worked on with colleagues explores the best examples of knowledge management systems to understand how these can transform modern organizations. 

22. Kadija Ferryman is a post-doctoral researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute and she studies how new and very available health data (like DNA sequencing) impact on moral and ethical claims. Her dissertation was named as one of the top 50 in her field and in her current project, she will be publishing about bias and discriminatory outcomes of big data health research. Follow her on twitter @KadijaFerryman or medium Kadija Ferryman, PhD.

23. Kathleen Carley is a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems. Together with 3 colleagues, she recently defined the emerging discipline of social cyber-security, which focuses on the study of social influence and group manipulation. Follow her group’s work on twitter @CMU_CASOS.

24. Katrin Weller is the head of Social Analytics and Services research team at GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, with her research focusing on social media analysis. Back in 2016 she invited fellow researchers to publish and share the data collected and used in their research from social media to enable reproducibility. Follow her on twitter @kwelle.

25. Kristina Lerman is a research associate professor at the University of Southern California and her research focuses on applying network- and machine learning-based methods to problems in social computing. In a high level study, Kristina and colleagues looked at emotions from twitter interactions overlaying US Census data to uncover how the strength of the ties between people is linked with level of income, education and language. Follow her on twitter @KristinaLerman and medium Kristina Lerman.

26. Lada Adamic is a computational social scientist at Facebook, and probably the only woman on the collective list of authors that have contributed to the 2009 Computational Social Science paper that refined the discipline. Apart from authoring and co-authoring more than a hundred papers on the subject, she’s also written a few books for children, breaking the stereotype one book at a time! Follow her on twitter @ladamic and medium Lada Adamic.

27. Laura Fortunato is a professor at Oxford University and an external professor at Santa Fe Institute. She combines her background in biology and anthropology to understand human behavior. Laura is a most active proponent of reproducible research, version control and provenance tracking for software and data; and probably one of the first in her field. Partnering with Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, she set up Reproducible Research Oxford as a change agent for better use of computational tools in research. Follow her on Twitter @anthrolog

28. Lillian Lee is a professor of computer science at Cornell University. Her research focuses around the relationship between natural language processing and social interaction. A very intriguing paper from her publication list investigates the gender bias in sports journalism and finds that journalists ask male players more questions focused on the game than they do female players. 

29. Lorien Jasney is a lecturer at University of Exeter in political and environmental network analysis. Her research focuses on public involvement in environmental decision making. In a recent study, she looked at how much the strategies of NGOs are affected by what their peers are doing. Follow her on twitter @LorienJasny.

30. Maria Pereda is a postdoctoral researcher at RWTH Aachen University and a punk rock fan. She uses simulation modelling, machine learning, network theory, and game theory in her research of society and human behavior. In a recent study, she explored the impact of expectations on our behavior and how that impacts our perception of being nice, watch her presentation at IC2S2 2017. Follow Maria on twitter @MariaPereda.

31. Martha Stone Palmer was the first woman to get a PhD in Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh and is currently a professor of linguistics at University of Colorado Boulder. Her research is aimed at building domain-independent and language independent techniques for semantic interpretation based on linguistically annotated data used for training supervised systems. For example, in a recent study with colleagues, she developed a schema for annotating tweets about natural disasters, releasing this and the data publicly to help develop appropriate algorithms that would classify such tweets automatically. 

32. Marti A Hearst is a professor in the University of California Berkeley, and her research focuses on search engines, computational linguistics, social technology and teaching at scale, among others. If you are interested how large scale analysis can be applied to undergraduate exams to understand trends in structure and what professors really think, have a look at a recent paper she published with colleagues.

33. Milena Tsvetkova is an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and in her research she uses large-scale online experiments and network analysis to understand social phenomena. In a recent study with colleagues, she explored how the structure of our interactions can increase inequality in social networks. Follow her on twitter @tsvetkovadotme

34. Mirta Galesic is a professor and Cowan Chair in Human Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute and studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce seemingly complex social phenomena. In a recent paper with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, she investigated whether individuals, moderately sized groups or large groups are better at difficult tasks, with clear implications for decision-making processes. 

35. Munmun De Choudhury is an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, where she leads the Social Dynamics and Wellbeing Lab. Her research focuses on the use of social media to improve mental health and wellbeing. In a recent study with colleagues, she used statistical modeling and natural language analysis of reddit and twitter channels to quantify the changes in behavior and wellbeing of students on college campuses after student deaths. Follow her on twitter @munmun10.

36. Sali Tagliamonte is a professor of linguistics at University of Toronto. Recently she worked on a most fascinating project, employing text analysis tools to trace the origins and evolution of the addition of -ly to adverbs in the English language in the UK. Follow her on twitter @SaliTagliamonte.

37. Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also leads the research group DiMeNet: Digital Media, Networks, and Political Communication. I would definitely recommend reading her latest book, Decoding the Social World to find out why sometimes our tweets can get out of control totally unexpectedly. Here’s a trailer and follow her on twitter @sgonzalezbailon

38. Suzy Moat is a Fellow of The Alan Turing Institute, and a professor of behavioral science at Warwick Business School, where she co-directs the Data Science Lab. In a recent study with colleagues, she crowd-sources data to map how scenic some areas are perceived to be. Among many more research papers, she also co-authored the manifesto for Computational Social Science. Follow her on twitter @suzymoat.

39. Yu-ru Lin is an associate professor at University of Pittsburgh, where she leads the PITT Computational Social Dynamics Lab (PICSO LAB). Her research focuses around the ways we become more informed and how that affects our behavior. For example, in a recent study with 2 co-authors, she looked at 10 years of US Census data to evaluate how exposure to information via social media affects the amount of money raised/donated for political parties in different areas. 

We know there are more women doing some fantastic research using computational methods. Help us add to this list by nominating people for inclusion in the comments section.