Scott Emmons wins Goldwater Scholarship

scott_emmons-200x300A no-April-fooling congratulations to sophomore Scott Emmons, for his selection as a 2017 Goldwater Scholar!

Scott joined our networks research group in his first year, bringing substantial previous experience about community detection in networks from his high school experiences working at IU in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a Robertson Scholar and an Honors Carolina student, the Robertson piece meaning we haven’t seen as much of him recently while he’s away at Duke. But he is still active in the group, and he is part of an upcoming paper we are getting ready for submission later this Spring.

Congratulations Scott!

Natalie Stanley on Graduate Women in Computer Science panel

All of us in the group are proud of our colleague graduate student Natalie Stanley, who participated in last night’s panel discussion of the Women in Computing Research Symposium 2017, sponsored by the Graduate Women in Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Thanks to Saray Shai for taking this photo of Natalie (second from the left) on the panel.

Dane Taylor in SIAM News Blog

Congratulations to postdoctoral associate Dane Taylor for the recent profile on him in the SIAM News Blog.

Dane was in Atlanta for the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, where he presented at a minisymposium on Modeling and Computational Methods in Network Science and Applications. Dane’s talk brought together different elements of our work on detectability of communities in multilayer network data, including these two papers coauthored with Natalie Stanley and Saray Shai, along with more recent work with Rajmonda Caceres.

Congratulations to Dane for this great coverage of his work!

Granell and Shai at NetSci-X

Congratulations to postdoctoral associates Clara Granell and Saray Shai for both getting selected to give contributed presentations at this week’s NetSci-X conference in Tel Aviv.

Clara discussed some of our recent work on “Epidemic spreading in localized envrionments with recurrent mobility patterns” while Saray presented on “Warping the urban space: geometry and dimensionality of urban transportation systems.”

Amusingly, they somehow managed to get assigned the same speaking time in parallel sessions. Thanks to Jesus Gomez-Gardeñes and Daniel Goldsmith for posting these pictures of Clara and Saray.


Mucha and Shai both recognized at Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence Ceremony

It is with enormous pride that I get to further publicize that Dr. Saray Shai is one of the 10 recipients of the Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence for the 2016-17 academic year, awarded by the UNC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. At any given time, there are roughly a thousand postdoctoral associates associated with UNC. So this is quite an honor for her, recognizing the very interesting work that she’s been doing.

As part of today’s Postdoctoral Research Award Ceremony, Saray gave a fantastic short overview talk about some of her work on transportation networks.

Saray joins her fellow postdoc, Dr. Dane Taylor, who received this same award last year. I am exceptionally proud of both of them.

I was also excited when I heard that they and others nominated me and I was selected for the Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award, a new award this year. Of course, it’s easy to be a good mentor to such great postdocs!

We are each very grateful to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for these recognitions!

img_1098Photo credit to Natalie Stanley.

Natalie Stanley presents SIAM Student Paper Prize talk

As announced previously, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Ph.D. candidate Natalie Stanley is one of the winners of this year’s SIAM Student Paper Prize. She and her fellow winners were officially presented with their awards earlier this week at the SIAM Annual Meeting in Boston. Today, their recognition continued in a special minisymposium at the meeting, where they presented talks about their winning papers.

Congratulations to Natalie on this honor and on giving a wonderful talk.

2016 Political Ties Award

We are excited and honored to learn that our paper, “Kantian fractionalization predicts the conflict propensity of the international system,” coauthored with Skyler Cranmer and Elizabeth Menninga and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has just been selected for this year’s Political Ties Award, given annually by the Political Networks Section of the American Political Science Association for the best article published on political networks the prior year. We are grateful to the section officers and selection committee for recognizing our contribution.

More about this paper is available here and here.

Graduation Day 2016

Congratulations to all of the graduates who particpated in yesterday’s ceremonies here at Carolina. From our research group, Charlie Ramsey and Jessica Davis both graduated with their B.S. degrees yesterday, while Hsuan-Wei “Wayne” Lee was recognized as he nears the completion date of his Ph.D. (with final defense expected this Summer).

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Charlie and Jessica, it’s been a pleasure to have you in the group over this past year. Best wishes to both of you in your future endeavors.

And Wayne, it’s been a pleasure too; but we’ll save the final congratulations until you finish! (smile)

2016 SIAM Student Paper Prize awarded to Natalie Stanley

Congratulations to Natalie Stanley for receiving one of the three 2016 SIAM Student Paper Prizes!

Natalie, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, was selected for this prestigious award based on her paper “Clustering network layers with the strata multilayer stochastic block model,” to appear in an upcoming issue of IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering (also available from With this work co-authored with Saray Shai, Dane Taylor, and Peter Mucha, this award recognizes Natalie’s pivotal contribution leading this paper.

The Prize will be awarded at the 2016 SIAM Annual Meeting (AN16), to be held July 11-15, 2016, in Boston. There will be an award ceremony during the Opening on Monday and she has been invited to present her winning paper in a special minisymposium for the student paper prize winners that Wednesday. She will also receive a cash prize of $1,000 along with reimbursement toward her travel expense to attend the meeting.

Separate from Natalie’s paper prize, she will also be presenting some of her latest research in a 5-minute lighting talk in the “Ignite” format at the 2016 SIAM Workshop on Network Science, July 15-16, also in Boston, for which she has also won a SIAM Student Travel Award.

In addition to Natalie’s activities in our research group and in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Curriculum, she plays an important role as one of the first funded cohort of trainees in the NIH BD2K Biomedical Graduate Training Program at UNC.

Congratulations to Natalie for this wonderful and well-deserved recognition!

Jessime Kirk awarded a 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Jessime-Kirk-500x313Congratulations to Jessime Kirk for winning an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! A Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Jessime works in Mauro Calabrese’s lab in the Department of Pharmacology and collaborates closely with our group to do the data analysis that is central to his thesis research.

More information about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) and its history is available from