Symposium for the Society of Young Network Scientists

June 20, 2017 // Indianapolis, Indiana

The 1st Symposium for the Society of Young Network Scientists (SYNS) is being organized by Network Science Institute at Northeastern University (NetSI) and Indiana University’s Network Science Institute (IUNI).  One of the goals of the meeting is to initiate the Society of Young Network Scientists (SYNS).  The meeting will provide the opportunity for students to discuss, explore and design the new society of like-(network science)-minded colleagues. By the end of the meeting, students will have made decisions about how the organization should be run, and identify who will carry out what roles. Our hope is that this meeting will recur annually for years to come, providing an important forum for building a cohesive and diverse community to ensure next generation of network scientists can build the essential collaborative community required for developing solutions for the major problems facing the 21st century workforce.


The goal for this meeting is to help young network science scholars gain both a common foundational training in network science (including approaches, languages, problems), as well as a theoretical and substantive foundation in a particular discipline. The symposium will be designed in a way to facilitate the exchange of information, build community, and establish a core set of faculty and NS advisors and mentors. Our target is to both expand the quality of the cohort, and to build the basis for future collaborations.


If you are a PhD student /young scientist working on network science, and you would like to help planning and organizing the symposium or to be part of SYNS, contact us at


Follow us on twitter: @NetSciPhDs

Welcome to the 1st Annual Consortium for the Society of Young Network Scientists (SYNS)!


Network Science is a diverse field of study that engages students from virtually every disciplinary field. While a few research centers are dedicated to network science, many young scientists often discover the field through deep inquiry in their own discipline. These researchers are often based within a department where they may be the only network scientist in their graduate cohort, or even in their entire graduate department.


This inaugural gathering of the Society of Young Network Scientists (SYNS) will bring together researchers who come from a variety of disciplines but are united by their common interest in network science. These scholars will need to be able to leverage massive data sets, understand scalability of tools, methods, and theories, in order to better understand, predict, influence, and design systems. This founding cohort will be the first in a professional network of transdisciplinary scholars who will serve as a foundation for the next generation of network scientists. Exposure to multiple disciplinary perspectives and diverse frameworks and applications will become critical for our next generation of network science thought leaders.  


By the end of the workshop, students will be familiar with new tools, techniques, methods, and theories, and will be able to identify common themes (and major differences) across applications and disciplines. Importantly, the exchange is expected go well beyond the technical aspects by opening dialogues about courses, advisor and qualifying criteria, fellowship and grant opportunities, and challenges of interdisciplinarity. In the end, we hope this meeting will help to empower these students to be more agile thinkers, both in how they define major scientific challenges and develop inventive solutions for real world problems.

The symposium will be designed into six components:

1 // Day 1 NetSci School

2 // Student Lightening Presentations

3 // Tutorials

4 // Group Challenge

5 // Professional Development Session

6 // Social Event

The following provides more detailed descriptions of the design and purpose of each session/event. 

Day 1: June 19

NetSci School 

Students are strongly encouraged to attend two introductory sessions in the NetSci School: Network Structure (instructor Alex Arenas) and Network Dynamics (taught by Alessandro Vespignani). 

SYNS Coordination Event

Students will have an opportunity to meet one another and hear the vision for SYNS.  Postdoctoral researchers associated (and founders of) the Young Researchers Network on Complex Systems group (YRNS) provide motivation and guidance for how to create and sustain such a group.  Details TBA.

Day 2: June 20

Lightning Presentations

Students will present a short 5-minute summary of their work. Faculty will give individualized “lightning feedback” to foster insights on the cross-disciplinary translation and relevance of their work in the broader research community.

Network Tutorials

We plan to have two introductory level tutorials on relevant topics such as network visualization techniques, data scraping strategies, statistical or mathematical algorithms or models. The tutorials will support a set of skills and tools that are highly relevant to the chosen problem selected for the Group Data Challenge.

Group Data Challenge

There will be a team activity to the meeting to give hands on experience following the tutorial.  The specific project is TBA -- as either a hackathon-style data activity or a more project based challenge.  At the end of the session, teams will present their work and the faculty members will provide brief feedback to facilitate core learning objectives.

Professional Development Panel 

In collaboration with the NetSci School, we will offer two 45-minute panels appropriate for Network Scientists at all levels. The panels will cover topics on the perspectives and strategies gained from network science, and the specific challenges that result from interdisciplinary endeavors. The panels may cover topics such as (a) perspectives on coursework, mentors, fellowships, grants; or (b) unique difficulties of communicating across disciplinary boundaries; or (c) understanding the professional options across opportunities in academia, industry, and government.  This session will take place in coordination with the NetSci School – where PhD Consortium Students will join the larger School session.

June 20, 2017 NetSci Satellite - one-day


See here.


For the Social Event, see here {}

Selection of participants will be announced April 1, 2017.  Student attendees will be listed here.

Materials will be posted to provide fundamental background on network science, and to support the tutorials.

A social event will be scheduled in the evening that will be open to all graduate students and young scholars.

One of the goals for this symposium is to challenge participants to apply their skills in network science to real world problems. This may be though modeling network processes, dynamics, or growth, or we may try to collectively solve a problem in a real dataset. Stay tuned for more details about this, and if you have any suggestions for datasets or modeling tasks, reach out at

The implementation of this symposium is built on a partnership between Northeastern University and Indiana University.  Over the last few years, both Universities have invested significantly into Network Science, resulting in one of the first PhD minor (since 2014, at IU), and the first U.S. based PhD program (at NU since 2013) in Network Science. We hope to extend this PhD Student community to many other Universities across the globe.


Kate Coronges, Northeastern University 
Patricia Mabry, Indiana University 
Evangelia (Evelyn) Panagakou, Northeastern University
Brooke Foucault Welles, Northeastern University

Student Organizers 

Brennan Klein, Northeastern University
Sarah Shugars, Northeastern University 
Leonardo Torres, Northeastern University

Kate Coronges, Northeastern University

Dr. Coronges is the Executive Director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University.  In this position, she provides administrative leadership to the institute by contributing to long-term strategic planning and vision for its role in the larger scientific community. She joined the Institute in April 2015. Before that, she worked for the US Army for over six years as Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the US Military Academy, and more recently as a Program Manager in the Information Science Directorate at the Army Research Office. She received her PhD in health behavior from the University of Southern California in 2009. Coronges was the Managing Editor for Connections journal, International Network of Social Network Analysis for a decade. Her research has focused on social structures and dynamics of teams and communities and their impacts on communication patterns, behaviors and performance.

Patricia Mabry, Indiana University

Dr. Mabry is the Executive Director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute (IUNI) and is a Senior Research Scientist in the IU-Bloomington School of Public Health. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, educational offerings, methodological innovation, theoretical development, and provision of supercomputing and IT resources, IUNI nurtures 21st century network science among over 150 affiliated IU faculty. Prior to joining IU in October of 2015, Dr. Mabry had a 15-year career at the National Institutes of Health serving in the National Cancer Institute’s Tobacco Control Research Branch, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP). At NIH Dr. Mabry established and led a systems science program in the behavioral and social sciences and served on the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Executive Committee. She also led ODP’s portfolio analysis tool development team. Her expertise spans obesity, tobacco control, diabetes, mood disorders, systems science, scientific rigor, and big data. Her work has been published in Science, the American Journal of Public Health, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and PLoS Computational Biology. Dr. Mabry is a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and was a 2008 recipient the Applied Systems Thinking Prize. Dr. Mabry holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia.

Evangelia (Evelyn) Panagakou, Northeastern University

Evelyn is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the MOBS (Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems) Laboratory of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Previously she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Nonlinear Dynamics Group at Brandeis University. She received her PhD in Physics from the University of Athens in collaboration with the National Center for Scientific Research "Demokritos" in Greece, her MS in Applied Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and her BS in Physics from the University of Athens in Greece. She has been one of the founders of the Young Researchers Network on Complex Systems and the Chair of its Advisory Board from Oct 2013 to Oct 2015. She has co-organized many satellites, workshops and schools on Complex Systems and is greatly interested in the education of complex systems and network science.

Brooke Foucault Welles, Northeastern University

Dr. Foucault Welles is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and core faculty member of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Combining the methods of network science with theories from the social sciences, Foucault Welles studies how online communication networks enable and constrain behavior, with particular emphasis on how these networks facilitate the pursuit of individual, team, and collective goals. Much of her work is interdisciplinary and collaborative, with co-authors from computer science, political science, digital humanities, design, and public health. Her recent contributions include a series of studies of the transformative power of networked counterpublicstechniques for the longitudinal analysis of communication networks using event-based network analysis, and guidelines for the effective use of network visualizations in scientific and lay publications. Her work is funded by grants from the US Army Research Office and US Army Research Lab, and has been featured in leading social science journals such as the Journal of CommunicationInformation, Communication and Societyand The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She serves on the editorial board of the journal Web Science and was part of the team that developed the Network Literacy Essential Concepts and Core Ideas. Dr. Foucault Welles holds a Ph.D. in Communication from Northwestern University. 

Brennan Klein, Northeastern University

Brennan is a 2nd year PhD student in Network Science at Northeastern University. He received his BA in Cognitive Science and Psychology from Swarthmore College in 2014, focusing on the relationship between perception, action, and cognition. Currently, in his work with Professor Chris Riedl, he studies human decision making, complex problem solving, and group behavior. This primarily involves running online experiments with human participants, as well as simulations of collective human behavior using agent-based modeling. Brennan likes to draw. | @jkbren

Sarah Shugars, Northeastern University

Sarah received her BA in Physics from Clark University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 2004. She received her MA in Integrated Marketing Communications from  Emerson College in 2009, and participated in Tisch College's Summer Institute of Civic Studies in 2013. An active member of the Somerville, MA community, Sarah serves as clerk of The Welcome Project board and on the board of the OPENAIR Circus. Sarah is interested in applying network science to questions of civil society and political deliberation. | @shugars

 Leonardo Torres, Northeastern University

Leo is interested in the intersection of Network Science, Complexity Science, and Neuroscience. By using different approaches from Computer Science, like graph mining and machine learning, he is trying to uncover the underlying principles governing the interplay between structure and function of dynamical networks. Leo has a B.S in Mathematics from a top-rated Peruvian Mathematics department, and is a self-taught programmer, having attended the Recurse Center, a programmer retreat in NYC, to focus on algorithm design and high-quality code writing standards. | @leorrot

We welcome applications from PhD students from any department who are interested in applying network science based tools, theories, and methodologies. We anticipate enough funding to admit 20 applicants, with scholarships that will cover the costs of the workshop attendance, lodging, and reduced registration fee at the NetSci2017 Conference.

The deadline to apply is March 15, 2017.

Participant Selection

Participant selection will be based on the quality of the student’s application and the overall relevance of their research interests. We are not looking for a specific “type” of applicant-- instead we are looking for applicants who have diverse interests, who are from many disciplinary backgrounds, and who have unique sets of skills. In addition, we will evaluate how well-aligned the goals of the symposium are to the student’s interests and research trajectories. Our hope is to facilitate the creation of a cohesive and complementary graduate student community.


We invite you to join us with an open mind to learn from and teach your future peers various concepts, coding skills, and tools.  We are hoping to have a teach-and-learn session where attendees share skills for ~20 minutes with one another. In addition, we will ask participants to present 5-minute lightning talks on their current research interests. For students with more developed research trajectories, we anticipate being able to offer space at a poster session (please indicate on your application if this applies to you).

There are NetSci2017 student scholarship awards available (learn more here).

2017 Symposium application

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