Past CNS Talks

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| 12:30 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Katy Börner

Science Observatory R&D

Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing

Abstract: Many sciences have managed to create sociotechnical infrastructures that monitor, manipulate, and communicate the state of our world in near real time. Weather forecasts in the United States alone, as performed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have an annual budget of $5 billion. The Large Hadron Collider cost $4.1 billion (£2.6 billion), paid by CERN’s 26 nations. The Hubble Space Telescope cost about $10 billion over the last 30 years, including expenses for five shuttle-servicing missions. An international science and technology (S&T) observatory able to measure, simulate, communicate, and proactively steer global S&T would likely cost less. This talk presents research and development (R&D) work led by IU faculty toward the creation of (1) a global S&T data monitoring system, (2) novel algorithms and easy to use plug-and-play macroscopes able to run multilevel S&T studies, (3) effective visualizations that render analysis and modeling results into insights, and (4) (in)formal science education places that many can visit to "observe and make" S&T visualizations.

Bio: Katy Börner is the Victor H. Yngve Professor of Information Science in the Department of Information and Library Science, School of Informatics and Computing, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, Core Faculty of Cognitive Science, Research Affiliate of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and Biocomplexity Institute, Member of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, Leader of the Information Visualization Lab, and Founding Director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and Visiting Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in The Netherlands. She is a curator of the international Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit. She holds a MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Technology in Leipzig, 1991 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Kaiserslautern, 1997. She became an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in 2012.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Eric M. Meslin

Strategies for Addressing Society’s ‘Wicked’ Bioethics Problems

Indiana University Center for Bioethics

Abstract: For more than five decades bioethics has studied ethical, legal and social problems in science and medicine. It often approached these problems – e.g., end-of-life decisions, the conduct of research in developing countries, genetic discrimination – either by applying moral principles to problems or by collecting empirical data from which informed policy could then be developed. Both approaches enjoyed success in the form of better hospital policies, improved federal research regulations, and a more informed public. But many emerging social problems are ‘wicked’ in the sense employed by Rittel and Weber (1973) where even agreement on the problem is elusive. The value of genomic science, Ebola preparedness, global conduct of health research are current examples. This talk will discuss two approaches being used by IU researchers to anticipate and address such wicked problems: (1) mapping translational science policy’s ‘valley of death’; (2) deploying an international global bioethics “collaboratory” designed to leverage the diverse strengths of investigators, publics, and governments.

Bio: Eric M. Meslin is founding Director of the Indiana University Center for Bioethics which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011. He is also Associate Dean for Bioethics in the Indiana University School of Medicine, and is Professor of Medicine; of Medical & Molecular Genetics; of Public Health; and of Philosophy. In 2012 he was appointed as Indiana University’s first Professor of Bioethics. Among his other leadership positions at IU he directs the Indiana University-Moi University Academic Research Ethics Partnership, an NIH-funded bioethics training program in Eldoret, Kenya; the Bioethics and Subject Advocacy Program of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute; and co-directs the Indiana University Center for Law, Ethics and Applied Research in Health Information (CLEAR). Born in Canada, Dr. Meslin received his B.A. from York University (Toronto), and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University. Prior to coming to Indiana, he was director of bioethics research for the ELSI program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (1996-98), and Executive Director of the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1998-2001) appointed by President Bill Clinton. Read more at

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Filippo Radicchi

Optimal strategies in mental searches

Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS)

Abstract: Levy flights are a special class of random walk whose step lengths follow a power-law tailed distribution. They have been proved to be the most efficient type of space exploration that can be adopted by a random searcher looking for scarce resources in an unknown environment. Probably for this reason, there are plenty of empirical evidences that movement patterns are compatible with Levy flights in many different contexts where efficiency matters. In particular, Levy flights appear recurrently in the description of the motion of animals in real space. Animals explore the environment mainly for searching food resources, and it is therefore plausible to ascribe the optimality of their search strategies to a selective evolutionary process. Levy flights have been also used to describe the movement patterns of humans, but these movements, however, do not correspond to search processes. There is still a lack of knowledge about the statistical properties of search processes performed by humans, and it is not clear weather humans adopt search strategies similar to those of animals or not. In this talk, I will present empirical evidence that Levy flights describe searches performed, in mental abstractions of the physical space, by humans in online games. I will consider bid histories of online auctions and show that players, when looking for unknown winning bid values, follow trajectories in the bid space that can be statistically described as Levy flights. The power-law scaling can be measured over several order of magnitude and represents the most genuine observation of Levy flights in nature reported so far.

Bio: Filippo Radicchi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing, and a member of the Center for Complex Systems and Networks Research. He obtained a M.Sc. in Physics at University of Rome "Tor Vergata" and a Ph.D. in Physics at Jacobs University Bremen. Before joining IU, he has been "Ramon y Cajal" researcher at the University "Rovira i Virgili", Senior Researcher at Northwestern University, and Research Scientist at ISI Foundation.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Peter Todd

Foraging for resources in complex spaces

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Abstract: People search for resources in a variety of complex, high-dimensional spaces: what to listen to next out of all the songs available in “music space”, what to eat next from the huge range of dishes in “cuisine space”, what to recall next from the concepts in our memory’s “semantic space”. How do we control this search, and decide when to search for something new or stick with a familiar option? People, like other organisms, adaptively trade off between exploring and exploiting their environment to obtain the resources they seek. We use some of the same heuristic strategies to decide when to keep looking and when to give up searching for resources in patches in space (e.g., for fish in a pond), in memory (e.g., for words in a category), and in networks (e.g., for music or information on the Web), as predicted by optimal foraging theory from evolutionary biology. In this talk, I will describe how new studies are uncovering these connections among search strategies in different domains.

Bio: Bio: Peter Todd is a Provost Professor in IU’s Cognitive Science Program, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Center for Complex Systems and Networks Research. He grew up in Silicon Valley, received a PhD in psychology from Stanford University, and in 1995 moved to Germany to help found the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC), based at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. The Center's work on decision making was captured in the books Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (OUP, 1999) and Ecological Rationality: Intelligence in the World (OUP, 2012). Todd moved to Indiana University in 2005 where his research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms that people use to make decisions about adaptively important resources—including information, mates, and food—in space and time. His most recent book is Cognitive Search: Evolution, Algorithms, and the Brain (Todd, Hills, and Robbins, eds.; MIT Press, 2012).

| 4:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

CNS Center

2014 Open House

Abstract: Each year, we invite our friends, colleagues and invited to join us for two hours of enlightening talks, hands-on demos, snacks and drinks! We work hard to make our Open House a fun and educational soirée. Guests are free to roam about, explore our visualizations, enjoy snacks and drinks, and of course ask questions! Learn more about our open house here.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Alessandro Flammini

The study of social phenomena via social media

Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing

Abstract: The diffusion of social media has reached levels that were simply unimaginable few years ago. Hundreds of million people every day rely on social media to discuss issues, coordinate activities, form opinions, get information, and express their thoughts and feelings. Mining social media exchanges, therefore, potentially provides a wealth of information that can be leveraged to study a variety of social phenomena. In particular, I will discuss work from our group to characterize the nature of political discourse on Twitter and the evolution of social protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Gezi Park.

Bio: Prof. Flammini received a PhD in Physics of Condensed Matter from the Institute of International Studies in Trieste, Italy in 1996. Since August 2004 he is Associate Professor in the School of Informatics, adjunct to the dept. of Physics and a member of the BioComplexity Institute at Indiana University. Prof. Flammini background is in Statistical Mechanics, and, presently, his main research interests are in the area of Information and Transportation Networks. Since his PhD, Dr. Flammini has held research position in different institutions, including the Cavendish Lab at the University of Cambridge, the Ralph Parson Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Center for Ultra-structural Analysis at University of Lausanne, and visiting positions at the Institute for Scientific Interchange (Turin, IT) and at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (CH).

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Andrew J. Saykin

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Network Perspective

Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center

Abstract: Alzheimer’s disease is a complex disorder that develops over one or more decades with the initial manifestation usually being loss of episodic memory function. At present there is no proven disease modifying therapy. Current research is focused on early detection of disease and identification of novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Multiple genes, proteins and biological processes have been implicated in AD. Structural, functional and molecular brain imaging, blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and cognitive measures are being employed to elucidate early changes in the years prior to dementia diagnosis. Network science approaches are increasingly being applied to Alzheimer’s disease and aging to investigate alterations in gene pathways, the brain’s connectome, memory and semantic processing, and social networks. This talk will provide an introductory overview of these areas, large-scale and smaller multi-modal data sets, and opportunities for collaborative transdisciplinary research on network changes in Alzheimer’s disease.

Bio: Since February 2013, Dr. Saykin is the Director of the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center. He is the Raymond C. Beeler Professor of Radiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and also directs the Indiana University Center for Neuroimaging. Dr. Saykin's leads an NIH- and foundation-sponsored research program, which focuses on the use of brain imaging and genomic methods to study mechanisms of memory dysfunction and treatment response in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Current projects examine advanced imaging methods for early preclinical detection of Alzheimer's disease (NIA R01 AG19771), the neural basis of cancer chemotherapy-induced cognitive changes (NCI R01 CA101318), and alterations in brain activity and connectivity in schizophrenia (U54 EB005149). Each project includes a component examining genomic correlates of brain imaging phenotypic markers.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Luis M. Rocha

Redundancy, control and collective computation in network dynamics

Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS)

Abstract: The structure of networks has provided many insights into the organization of complex systems. The success of this approach is its ability to capture the organization of multivariate interactions, and how it changes in time (network evolution) without explicit dynamical rules for node variables. As the field matures, however, there is a need to move from understanding to controlling complex systems. This is particularly true in systems biology and medicine, where increasingly accurate models of biochemical regulation have been produced. More than understanding the organization of biochemical regulation, we need to derive control strategies that allow us, for instance, to move a mutant cell to a wild-type state, or revert a mature cell to a pluripotent state. In this talk I will highlight ongoing work in our group aimed at supporting this goal: 1) identification of redundant edges in network evolution via the computation of the distance backbone of weighted graphs; 2) the schema redescription methodology, used to remove redundancy from automata rules to reveal their canalization properties, thus simplifying the characterization of control in large models of natural networks, such as models of biochemical regulation; 3) a study demonstrating that canalization (measured as effective connectivity) is an order parameter of Boolean Network (BN) dynamics; 4) a study of the relationship between network structure and controllability through the analysis of dynamical ensembles of BN.

Bio: Luis M. Rocha is Professor of Informatics and Cognitive Science at Indiana University. He is director of the Complex Systems graduate Program in Informatics, member of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems, and core faculty of the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. He is also the director of the Computational Biology Collaboratorium and in the Direction of PhD program in Computational Biology at the Instituto Gulbenkian da Ciencia, Portugal. His research is on complex systems, computational biology, artificial life, embodied cognition and bio-inspired computing. He received his Ph.D in Systems Science in 1997 from the State University of New York at Binghamton. From 1998 to 2004 he was a permanent staff scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he founded and led a Complex Systems Modeling Team during 1998-2002, and was part of the Santa Fe Institute research community. He has organized major conferences in the field such as the Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems (Alife X) and the Ninth European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2007). He has published many articles in scientific and technology journals, and has been the recipient of several scholarships and awards. At Indiana University, he has received the School of Informatics Teaching Excellence Award for 2006 after developing a new syllabus for an introductory undergraduate course on Informatics and a new graduate course on biologically-inspired computing.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Giovanni L. Ciampaglia

Toward computational fact-checking

Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS)

Abstract: We live in an age of abundant information, but much of it is of doubtful veracity. Traditional fact-checking, performed manually by expert journalists, does not scale with the increasing volume of claims spreading online. In parallel, massive amounts of structured knowledge are now collected online, for example by DBPedia, which extracts information from the infoboxes of Wikipedia entries. These knowledge bases can be seen as large-scale instances of semantic networks, enabling one to apply the standard toolbox of network science for their analysis. As a proof of concept, in this talk I will show how simple network search techniques can be leveraged for the purpose of automatic fact-checking. Such a tool could aid in the daunting task of protecting the public from the harm of misinformation, urban legends, conspiracy theories, and rumors.

Bio: Giovanni Ciampaglia is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS), Indiana University at Bloomington in the group of Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Flammini. He obtained his Ph.D. in Informatics from Università della Svizzera Italiana (also known as University of Lugano) in December 2011. His research was supervised jointly by Luca Maria Gambardella (IDSIA), Alberto Vancheri (co-advisor, SUPSI) and Paolo Giordano (co-advisor, Uni Wien). Before joining CNetS, he was previously research analyst contractor at the Wikimedia Foundation, working on editor engagement issues, and research associate at the Chair of sociology, in particular modeling and simulation, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. His research is about collective social phenomena on the Internet, in particular large-scale collaboration platforms such as Wikipedia. He is also interested in other complex social phenomena such as emergence of social norms, cultural dynamics. Prior to his Ph.D. studies he also worked on models of urban growth. You can find more information in his curriculum vitae and software developer portfolio.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Armando Razo and Markus Dickinson

Linguistic Corpus and Ontology for Comparative Analysis of Networks

Indiana University

Abstract: We discuss an ongoing natural language processing (NLP) and web ontology project based on an original corpus of theoretical and applied scholarly work on political networks and international development.

Bio: Armando Razo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. His research interests are in the field of comparative politics, with a concentration on the political economy of development. His research and teaching center around two themes: (1) how political institutions in developing countries affect economic performance; and (2) the study of political institutions and political organization in dictatorships. He teaches courses in comparative politics, positive political economy, and Latin American politics. He is currently working on a book manuscript about social networks and political institutions in dictatorships. He is co-author with Stephen Haber and Noel Maurer of The Politics of Property Rights (2003). He has published articles in World Politics, the Journal of Economic History, and the Journal of Latin American Studies.

Markus Dickinson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics, specializing in computational linguistics. His research focuses on the intersection between linguistic annotation and natural language processing and on automatically analyzing the language of second language learners.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Bill K. Barnett

Ceramics, cultivation, and community – how agriculture spread in the Old World

Indiana University

Abstract: Understanding the past is an exercise in synthesizing a variety of networks at multiple scales. The paucity of data requires an integration of technological, social, political, economic, geographical, and environmental data in order to construct any reasonable model of the agricultural transition. The appearance and spread of agriculture in the old world represents a seminal change in the trajectory of human society. Dr. Barnett will discuss the dynamics and competing models of agricultural spread and and layer them over continent-wide patterns of the appearance and spread of domesticates and ceramics across Eurasia. William Barnett oversees the life sciences research IT practice at Indiana University, both for basic research and for health care research including the IU School of Medicine, where he is an adjunct associate professor in Medical and Molecular Genetics. He is the Co-Director of Translational Informatics at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). Bill is the Director of the National Center for Genome Analysis Support (, which provides bioinformatics and computational support for genomics research. He also oversees the Grid Operations Center for the Open Science Grid. Prior to his tenure at IU, Bill was the Vice President and CIO of the Field Museum in Chicago. His research expertise is in ceramic analyses and in the agricultural transition in the Old World.

Bio: William Barnett oversees the life sciences research IT practice at Indiana University, both for basic research and for health care research including the IU School of Medicine, where he is an adjunct associate professor in Medical and Molecular Genetics. He is the Co-Director of Translational Informatics at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). Bill is the Director of the National Center for Genome Analysis Support (, which provides bioinformatics and computational support for genomics research. He also oversees the Grid Operations Center for the Open Science Grid. Prior to his tenure at IU, Bill was the Vice President and CIO of the Field Museum in Chicago. His research expertise is in ceramic analyses and in the agricultural transition in the Old World.

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Olaf Sporns

Mapping and modeling human brain networks

Indiana University

Abstract: Recent years have seen a rapid expansion of empirical and theoretical studies in connectomics – the emerging science of structural and functional brain networks. In this talk I will survey some of the recent advances and a few of the challenges for connectomics research, with an emphasis on human brain connectivity. Of particular interest are studies that employ network science methods for analyzing and modeling connectivity patterns. These studies have shown the existence of highly connected hub regions that play crucial roles in brain communication and the integration of information. Future applications of brain modeling and computation for understanding brain function and dysfunction will also be discussed. Overall, the new field of connectomics offers a unique opportunity for building a theoretical understanding of the function of the human brain.

Bio: Provost Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Computational and cognitive neuroscience; functional integration and binding in the cortex; neural models of perception and action; network structure and dynamics; applications of information theory to the brain; embodied cognitive science; robotics. Educational Background: 1986 - B.A., Universitat Tubingen (Germany); 1990 - Ph.D., Rockefeller University. Areas of Study: Neuroscience, Cognitive Science. Research Topics: Computational and cognitive neuroscience, Functional integration and binding in the cortex, Neural models of perception and action, Network structure and dynamics, Applications of information theory to the brain, Embodied cognitive science, Robotics. Read more at

| 12:00 PM | Woodburn Hall 200

Bernice Pescosolido

The Social Symbiome Framework: Linking Genes-to-Global Cultures in Public Health Using Network Science

Indiana University

Abstract: “Helix to health,” “neurons to neighborhoods,” “base pairs to bedside,” “compound to clinic”, and “cells to society” have become metaphorical blueprints for the next stage of basic and translational science. However, hundreds, if not thousands, of factors have been documented as etiological candidates underlying illness, disease, and treatment. We propose a parsimonious theoretical guide to scientific progress, clinical practice, and improved population health by embracing the interactive, contextual, and dynamic assumptions of Systems Science but narrowing its scope through Network Science’s focus on connections as the unifying mechanism of action. Specifically, a genes-to-global cultures conceptual framework draws on classic and contemporary health research documenting the explanatory power of network ties across the natural, social, and biological sciences. Using alcohol dependence as an illustrative case, empirical findings build the Social Symbiome and introduce unique issues in team formation, study design, and analytic tools for rigorous, feasible studies with adequate human protections.

Bio: Bernice A. Pescosolido is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and Director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research. Professor Pescosolido received a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island in 1974 and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1982. She has focused her research and teaching on social issues in health, illness, and healing. Pescosolido’s research agenda addresses how social networks connect individuals to their communities and to institutional structures, providing the "wires" through which people’s attitudes and actions are influenced. This agenda encompasses three basic areas: health care services, stigma, and suicide research. In the early 1990s, Pescosolido developed the Network-Episode Model which was designed to focus on how individuals come to recognize, respond to the onset of health problems, and use health care services. Specifically, it has provided new insights to understanding the patterns and pathways to care, adherence to treatment and the outcomes of health care. As a result, she has served on advisory agenda-setting efforts at the NIMH, NCI, NHLBI, NIDRR, OBSSR and presented at congressional briefings. Read more at

| 7:00 PM | Indiana University Cinema

Ying-Fang Shen, Norbert Herber, and Katy Börner

Humanexus: Knowledge and Communication Through the Ages

Indiana University Cinema

Abstract: This animated semi-documentary visualizes the evolution of human communication from the Stone Age to today and beyond—from storytelling, to the contemporary humanexus of billions of biological brains and many more technological artifacts, to multiple possible futures—showing enormous changes in the quantity and quality of our collective knowledge. The film is the product of collaboration between artist Ying-Fang Shen, former IU Fine Art student and now professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; IU professor Katy Börner, an expert in the theory and practice of data mining and information visualization; and Norbert Herber, a musician and sound artist from IU’s Media School. (Digital. 12 min. Not Rated.)

The film will be followed by a panel discussion between the collaborators: Shen, Börner, and Herber.

More information can be found here and here.

Bio: Shen; Börner; Herbert

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