Research Co-op Program

for Northeastern University students

Want to experience how research is done in some of the most advanced and successful research groups in the US and the world? Are you interested in learning how network science can model social, technical, physical, and epidemiological systems and solve applied societal problems?

Examples of the diverse topics you could work on include: disease spreading, effects of public policies and health interventions, drug efficacy, improvement of health and security of human populations, science of success, shaping of social behavior, formulation of political beliefs, group decision making, geometry of networks, topological data analysis on graphs, anomaly detection, algorithmically infused societies, unifying the physics of networks with the mining of graphs.

At NetSI we are looking for highly motivated scientists from all fields to join us for a mentored research experience. We are hoping to create a cohort of talented co-op students per co-op term. You will receive hands-on experience working to answer one or multiple research questions our researchers are tackling at the time.

Before assigning you a research project, we will take into account your prior experience to make sure the tasks requested from you will be appropriate for your level while giving you the opportunity to grow as a scientist and feel rewarded. Concurrently with your research co-op placement at our Institute you will have the opportunity to participate in educational and social activities as our regular members do. Such activities are:

Speaker series. In this series we have high profile guests, external and from Northeastern. These guests give talks about their work and meet with our researchers and students. We also have some of our published doctoral students present their work to acquire experience and gain visibility within the institute and the university. You will have the opportunity to attend all these talks and seminars.

Professional development and science communication workshops. We organize workshops on the academic application process, fellowships and grants, promotion of research findings in social and traditional media, career path options, service to the profession, managing collaborations, ethics in research, maintaining balance in academic life, etc. You will have the opportunity to attend all these workshops.

Schools, workshops, and conferences at the institute. These are educational activities we organize either internally or with our collaborators in a broader context. You will be able to join such activities as well as present your work in these venues.

Key components of the program:

Mentoring (scientific and professional)
Exposure to cutting edge research opportunities
Problem solving, independent thinking, and collaborative mindset
Team building (with professors, researchers, doctoral students, and staff members)
Networking with mentors and collaborators
Presentation of results (internally and outside the institute)
Access to educational activities

By the end of the co-op you will:

Have acquired knowledge and skills on network science pertinent to your particular discipline but also more broadly
Have developed collaborative relationships with a number of very distinguished researchers in the field
Have gained valued experience in a research setting as preparation for graduate school
Have opened up the possibility of further collaboration in the future while on your graduate studies or later in your career - if you a graduate student
Have acquired skills on science communication and professional advancement

Opportunities for continuing training and education

The Institute offers a competitive Doctoral Program in Network Science as well as a Minor in Network Science. After your co-op at the Institute, you could choose to take one of the undergraduate courses for the Minor in network science or even choose to apply to our graduate program. We will be very happy to contribute to your scientific advancement and to also discuss possible future research collaborations.

Participants in the NetSI Research Co-Ops program are expected to work 35-40 hours/week for a period of four to six months, to be agreed with the candidate before the start of the program. Occasionally, on a case-by-case basis, eight months could also be a possibility. The Education, Outreach, and Diversity Coordinator of NetSI will be your mentor for the duration of the program, to oversee your overall progress. Once matched with a research project and/ or a research lab, you will be matched with a research mentor for the duration of your stay in the particular lab, as well as a peer mentor, who will be one of our doctoral students.

Trainees will attend an orientation workshop at the beginning of their co-op training, to learn about basic concepts of network science, working at the Institute, research ethics and program expectations. At least once per month you will be required to attend one of the additional academic activities open to you at the Institute. Depending on your research and career interests we will choose which of these activities are best suited for you and we will make a personalized plan with you at the beginning of your assignment. Some of these activities you will be able to attend individually and some of them you will need to attend as a cohort.

Program Deliverables

You will have to write a one page summary of each of the educational activities and by the end of the program you will have created a portfolio of these summaries and of possible additional materials and resources you will have acquired by then.

Related to your research work, you will have the following responsibilities:

Keep a journal with weekly entries on how your work is progressing

Depending on the nature of your project you may have to:

Write an abstract, literature review, short report of project’s findings
Complete particular research tasks relevant to your research project

Showcase your results at the end of the program. To this end you will need to create:

A poster
A short (5-10 minutes long) presentation

Depending on the nature and tasks of your research project we may assign to you some additional tasks to help you build research related skills that will be useful to your future career. Such tasks will include working on literature reviews, developing synopses of research manuscripts, contributing to research proposals, etc.


We are looking for students from any major, with interest in the type of research work we do at
the Institute. Previous experience in network science is a plus, but not having such prior
experience is not an issue. Similarly, previous research experience is not required. However,
having some quantitative/computational experience is required, as you may need to do some
work with data at least at a basic level. We will make sure to give you appropriate tasks and
scaffold your skills, so that you can progress well in the program and that this experience is
fulfilling to you.

Required Documents

We ask that you submit your updated CV, your unofficial transcript, and a cover letter of
300-500 words, explaining why you would like to do a research co-op at the Network Science
Institute, how you think that this experience will help you, what your scientific interests are, as
well as your current career goals. It would be preferable if you could also designate at least one
laboratory/research group/faculty member/Institute member that matches your research
interests. Also, you can indicate your preferred duration of the position. In case you have
research experience you can mention it in the letter and you are welcome to also share with us
a research work sample if you have one. However, a work sample is only optional.

You can access the application here.

Open projects include but are not limited to:

Project at Lazer Lab

The Lazer Lab has a data resource called the Twitter Panel; it consists of a panel of Twitter users whose Twitter accounts have been linked to state voter records (the data is on a protected server and cannot leave the server in disaggregated format). We are in the process of upgrading and streamlining the data collection processes for the panel data as well as building a website that will make the panel dataset searchable in aggregate. By the summer, much of the data infrastructure underlying the website will be in progress or finished, but the data engineering for maintaining and making use of the panel data will need work. There may also be opportunities for data visualization work or some light data science work depending on the progress we make and the individual candidate’s skill set. The candidate will work with postdocs and senior doctoral students in the Lazer Lab.

We are looking for a candidate who is good at big-picture thinking, is comfortable coding in Python and using the Unix command line, and has some basic understanding of databases/data engineering tools. The successful candidate will be a strong communicator and place an emphasis on the documentation and longevity of the code they write. You can expect to become proficient in tools/workflows that are used frequently in industry settings, like Elasticsearch, Apache Airflow, and Docker; we will incorporate opportunities to practice skills like presenting technical content to non-technical stakeholders or conducting informational interviews with other professionals.

Project on Infodemics

The work focuses on developing and empirically testing different models of information spreading, with the goal of innovating how we think about health misinformation spreading in networks.

    A co-op student could participate in a number of ways:

  • Assisting with the theoretical development of the project through literature reviews on spreading models, misinformation, and/or information theory.
  • Creating and running synthetic models of various types.
  • Interpreting existing data to create parameter estimates to include in models.
  • Possibly, developing stimuli and running experiments to test various theories about information spreading.

These are just two of the many projects you can work on at the Network Science Institute. Please check all our labs and let us know if you have a particular research interest.


Evelyn Panagakou, PhD

Education, Outreach, and Diversity Coordinator