The emergence of a functionally flexible brain during early infancy

I’m excited that our latest collaborative network neuroscience paper has now appeared in PNAS. Working closely with Weiyan Yin in Weili Lin‘s group and many others in the Biomedical Research Imaging Center at the UNC School of Medicine, we use the notion of flexibility, previously introduced for functional magnetic resonance imaging data in terms of the multilayer network community detection tools developed in our group, to study brain activity in typically developing infants. I find it very gratifying to see that these multilayer community detection tools continue to find important applications, and I hope to continue to see further developments as we continue to improve the available methods for such network science tasks.

Press Release:

Update: Our paper appeared in the Highlights in PNAS for September 2, 2020.

Network analysis of languages

I’m very excited to have played a small part in new work led by UNC Psychology graduate student Josh Jackson and others in Kristen Lindquist‘s lab that appeared last week in Science analyzing patterns of colexification through network analysis. Congratulations to Josh, Kristen, and everybody else involved on the very interesting work and all of the great attention this paper has been getting!

Jackson, Joshua Conrad, Joseph Watts, Teague R. Henry, Johann-Mattis List, Robert Forkel, Peter J. Mucha, Simon J. Greenhill, Russell D. Gray, and Kristen A. Lindquist. “Emotion Semantics Show Both Cultural Variation and Universal Structure.” Science 366, no. 6472 (December 20, 2019): 1517–22.

UNC University Communications
Los Angeles Times
Scientific American
Smithsonian Magazine
Science News
The Guardian
Daily Mail

MURI Annual Review 2019

As noted when it was awarded, I’m exceptionally excited to be part of the ARO MURI project “Multiscale integration of neural, social, and network theory to understand and predict transitions from illness to wellness” with Emily Falk and Dani Bassett at Penn and Kevin Ochsner at Columbia.

Here at UNC, this grant now partially supports the work of all three current postdoctoral associates in the lab: Zach Boyd, Eun Lee and Emma Smith. The four of us just got back from a our annual review in Philadelphia. It’s a pleasure and honor to work with all of these awesome people from the four labs. We have a bunch of great work to publish soon!

In case it isn’t obvious to all readers: Kevin and I are the two nearly-identical hairstyles in the back row in the center, with Dani and Emily standing in front of us. Zach is just to my left in front of me. Emma and then Eun are immediately on Dani’s right.

Feature-Based Classification appears in Network Science

I’m of course biased because it’s a project that I was part of, but I think this paper of ours is a wonderfully simple and powerful idea. There’s a ton of great work in the literature on network classification. In this “end note” in Network Science, we show that you can do a really great job on some network classification problems by picking descriptive measures that we’re all used to using in social network analysis and network science.

EndNote: Feature-based classification of networks
Ian Barnett, Nishant Malik, Marieke L. Kuijjer, Peter J. Mucha and Jukka-Pekka Onnela

Our new paper in Nature Genetics

I’m thrilled to see our new paper in Nature Genetics: Functional classification of long non-coding RNAs by k-mer content led by BCB graduate student Jessime Kirk in Mauro Calabrese’s lab.

And it was even enough to motivate Mauro to post his first lab account tweet:

(I’m a mostly lurking, occasional retweeter on an account you are unlikely to find, even if you cared to try.)

See also: Scientists Create Method to Map Vast Unknown Territory of Long Non-coding RNA

New MURI award

I am very excited about our new MURI award from the ARO, “Multiscale integration of neural, social, and network theory to understand and predict transitions from illness to wellness.” Working with Emily Falk and Dani Bassett at Penn and Kevin Ochsner at Columbia, our project aims toward “A proof of concept with mindfulness, hypnosis and alcohol use disorders.”

Working on this project with me at UNC is new postdoctoral associate, Dr. Emma Smith. Emma joins us having just completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at UC-Irvine, where she worked with Carter Butts.

We just returned from Philadelphia, visiting Penn for the Kickoff Meeting for this project, and look forward to these exciting collaborative activities in the coming months and years.

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.

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…

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 and Henderson present at OSSD 2014

OSSD2014Mucha presents today at the annual meeting of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences in a joint presentation with Jeffrey P. Henderson of Washington University. The presentation, titled “Virulence Network Detection in a Mixed Male and Female Urinary Tract Infection Population,” describes recent work using biclustering of data and community detection of network representations to uncover clusters within this patient group.

The manuscript detailing this work is currently in preparation. When it is finally submitted this summer, it will only have been 27 years since Mucha and Henderson first met before they finally coauthored a paper together. You never know who you might end up working with…