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).

2016-05-08 13.58.53 HDR

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

Mucha, Shai & Taylor present at MBI workshop

A big thank you to all of the organizers of this week’s workshop at MBI on Generalized Network Structures & Dynamics. It was a pleasure to interact with so many colleagues and friends. And we’re grateful that we had the opportunity to present three different presentations. Mucha opened the workshop with an overview talk on “Communities in Multilayer Networks.” Dr. Saray Shai spoke on “Generalized network representations of multimodel transportation systems.” And Dr. Dane Taylor presented our work on “Contagion maps for examining spreading processes on networks.”

Photo credits go to Saray, with apologies that it means we don’t have any photos of her giving her talk!



Taylor receives Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Research Excellence

A big congratulations to postdoctoral associate Dr. Dane Taylor for being named as one of the 10 recipients of this year’s Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Research Excellence from the UNC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. For context, there are approximately 1,000 postdocs at UNC at any given time, so this is an incredibly competitive honor for Dane, recognizing his many scientific accomplishments. The awards “are designed to assist postdoctoral scholars in their continued professional development” and include both a plaque and a monetary award.

As part of today’s awards ceremony, Dane gave a great short talk about some of his work in the mathematical analysis of cascades on networks. Not only was I proud of him for winning the award, but many attendees commented to me about how much they enjoyed his talk, commending him for making his presentation accessible and interesting.

Congratulations Dane!

Saray Shai’s new paper on multiplex metropolitan networks

Congratulations to current postdoctoral associate Dr. Saray Shai and her collaborators for their recent paper in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Remarkably, they were able to show that increasing the speed of subway trains doesn’t always make for better outcomes. With a great result like that, it shouldn’t be surprising that their work has garnered some nice press coverage.

Congratulations Saray!