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!

Math + Political Science collaboration questions ‘Democratic Peace’ theory

KantianCommunitiesUsing a new technique to analyze 52 years of international conflict, an interdisciplinary collaborative team between Political Science and Mathematics suggests that there may be no such thing as a “democratic peace.” The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by Ohio State Political Science professor Skyler Cranmer, University of Iowa Political Science professor Elizabeth Menninga (who recently earned her Political Science Ph.D. from UNC–Chapel Hill), and Peter Mucha from Carolina Mathematics.

Read more here…

Bring the noise

In a wonderfully titled research highlight in Nature Physics, Abigail Klopper discusses our recent publication “Topological data analysis of contagion maps for examining spreading processes on networks” (also available on our Networks reprints page).

Led by postdoctoral associate Dane Taylorcontagions, our former summer Fulbright visitor Florian Klimm, and working with collaborators at Oxford and Rutgers, we study the spread of contagions on networks using tools of topological data analysis and nonlinear dimension reduction. Focusing on a specific model of complex contagions, we explore the settings under which the contagion spreads by wavefront propagation versus spread by the appearance of new clusters.

Congratulations to Dane, Flo, and all involved.

Identifying virulence strategists in uropathogenic E.coli

UPECsiderophoresOur first paper from our collaboration with the Henderson Lab in Infectious Diseases at Washington University in St.Louis recently appeared in ACS Infectious Diseases. In this work, we applied tools of community detection in networks and data biclustering to identify virulence gene patterns in a population of UTI-causing clinical E.coli isolates. Using these methods, we showed that siderophore genes appear in virulence “strategists” groups and that these groups correspond with variations in antibiotic resistance and patient sex.

This collaboration has been both personally and professionally rewarding for me. Professionally, it is exciting to see our data analysis methods translated closer to clinical relevance, and we will continue to push this direction to make it even more so. Personally, it’s been a lot of fun to write a paper with an old friend: Jeff and I first met probably in 1987 (I think) but this is our first joint publication together. I just have to guess that this nearly 28 years is going to be my lifetime personal record for time to first publication (conditional of course on there being a publication—spoken like a mathematician).

With congratulations to all involved, we look forward to continued output from this interdisciplinary collaboration!

Mucha presents at GraphEx 2015

A big thank you to the organizers of the Graph Exploitation Symposium, hosted by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, for inviting me to speak there. I greatly enjoyed my two days at the symposium, which was full of interesting talks, posters, and conversations. It was a wonderful workshop.

Postdoc activities at SIAM DS15

Congratulations to Drs. Nishant Malik, Saray Shai and Dane Taylor for their successful minisymposium organizations and presentations at this week’s SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems (DS15).

Nishant organized a twopart minisymposium on Complex Network Theory Based Approaches in the Analyses of Complex Systems and Data, kicked off Wednesday morning by his presentation on the Role of Network Topology in Collective Opinion Formation and closed out Wednesday afternoon by Saray’s presentation on Revealing Collectivity in Evolving Networks: A Random Matrix Theory Approach.

Dane spoke Sunday morning on Topological Data Analysis for and with Contagions on Networks in a session on Dynamics on Networks and Network Topology in Ecology and Epidemiology, before hosting the minisymposium he organized on Structural and Functional Network Dynamics and Inference on Monday morning.


Dr. Nishant Malik speaks in the minisymposium he organized at SIAM DS15

Group invasion of SIAM NS15

Our research group has descended upon the SIAM NS15 workshop on Network Science, co-located this year with the dynamical systems meeting at Snowbird, outside Salt Lake City. Held over two days, this year’s Network Science workshop includes 21 single-track contributed talks selected through a competitive process and 27 posters across two sessions, including 3 talks and 3 posters from our research group. (Full disclosure: Mucha was on the organizing committee for the workshop, but had no say in the selection of any of our group work.)

Postdoctoral associate Dane Taylor is speaking on “Contagions for Topological Data Analysis of Networks,” in collaboration with Florian Klimm, Heather Harrington, Miroslav Kramar, Konstantin Mischaikow, Mason Porter, and Peter Mucha.

Graduate student Sam Heroy is presenting his work on “Network Representations of Mechanical Percolation,” in collaboration with Taylor, group alumnus Feng “Bill” Shi, Greg Forest, and Mucha.

Graduate student Hsuan-Wei “Wayne” Lee is speaking on “Social Clustering in Epidemic Spread on Coevolving Networks,” in collaboration with postdoctoral associate Nishant Malik, Shi, and Mucha.

Presenting posters about their research are graduate student Alexis Sparko, postdoctoral associate Saray Shai, and Malik (describing recent work of his with undergraduate student David Spencer).

Meanwhile, postdoctoral associates Malik, Shai & Taylor will each also be busy presenting and organizing minisymposia at the dynamical systems meeting later in the week.

Congratulations to all for so strongly representing the research group!


Group members Saray Shai, Alexis Sparko and Sam Heroy pose in a photo designed to make very hungry the group members who didn’t make the trip to the workshop.

Article selected for Chaos collection

We are honored that our paper “Robust detection of dynamic community structure in networks” by Bassett et al. has been selected as the representative for calendar year 2013 in the new collection 25 Articles for 25 Years, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the journal Chaos.

“The Chaos collection 25 Articles for 25 Years celebrates the Journal’s contributions to the nonlinear dynamics community and to the advancement of science. Editor-in-Chief David Campbell has chosen one article from every year of the Journal’s publication to represent the depth and breadth of nonlinear science historically and today. Articles were chosen for their importance to the community, for their impact on the direction of nonlinear science, and to reflect the variety of exciting research in nonlinear science undertaken all over the world.”

Saray Shai presents at DNAC

IMG_2604 Postdoctoral associate Saray Shai presented in today’s seminar in the Duke Network Analysis Center (DNAC), continuing our group’s long-standing association with the DNAC. Saray’s presentation on Attacks of modular networks described her recent work towards understanding the relationship between modular structures in multilayer networks and their vulnerability to failure.

Open postdoctoral position

We currently have a position open for a postdoctoral associate focused on structures and dynamics in networks.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work interdisciplinarily with a wide range of networks activities at UNC and Duke, and with other national and international collaborators of Mucha’s networks research group. If desired, applicants with the requisite teaching experience will be considered for a teaching assignment in Mathematics. The position is renewable based on satisfactory performance and availability of funding.

Previous research experience in the study of networks is required. Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated expertise in clustering, community detection, modeling infections, information spread, and/or networked dynamical systems.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes all to apply, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Applicants should submit their application through, including: (i) a current vita including all publications and submitted articles, (ii) a current research statement, and (iii) three reference letters that address research qualifications for the position.

The current round of applications closes on Wednesday, March 4th.