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Political Networks Conference (POLNET) 2015

Thursday, 5:30pm-6:30pm: Twohy-Benezet Lecture*

Opening Plenary                                    Room: Columbia Falls                       Speaker: Martina Morris 

Network connectivity thresholds and HIV disparities by race in the US

An African American today is 10 times more likely than a white American to be living with HIV/AIDS. The disparity has been present since the start of the epidemic 30 years ago.  It begins early in life, persists through to old age, and is evident among all risk groups: heterosexuals, men who have sex with men (MSM), and injection drug users. Similar disparities are found among other sexually transmitted infections, stretching back to the earliest reports in the 1960s. Empirical studies repeatedly find that these disparities cannot be explained by differences in individual risk behaviors, and no race-linked biological differences have been identified that could explain disparities across this wide range of pathogens.  But all of these pathogens share an underlying transmission network.  This talk will explore how small differences in partnership patterns can cumulate up to produce profound differences in network connectivity and epidemic potential.  The analysis will showcase new statistical methods for the application of Exponential Random Graph Models to egocentrically sampled network data.  These methods make it possible to empirically ground large-scale population dynamic models in a principled framework, leveraging big insights from small data.

Martina Morris, Ph.D. holds a joint appointment as professor in the departments of Sociology and Statistics at the University of Washington, and is the founding director of the Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research Core in the UW CFAR. Her recent research has focused on the development of statistical methods for network epidemiology.  She co-leads an NIH-funded interdisciplinary team of statisticians, epidemiologists, and demographers who develop and implement innovative methodology and software for network modeling using the R statistical platform. They have been releasing these as the open-source software packages “statnet” for over a decade, and are committed to providing public access to these methods. The most recent package is “EpiModel,” a platform that provides a single interface for all mathematical modeling of infectious diseases:  from deterministic compartmental models to stochastic network models (the latter grounded in empirical estimation from egocentrically sampled network data).

*Established in honor of Mildred Twohy, a Political Science major at Reed College. Using this fund, the Department of Political Science brings important figures who shape or research public policy to Reed College to share their perspectives on a variety of issues.    

Friday, 5:00pm-6:00pm

Keynote Plenary                                     Room: Columbia Falls                       Speaker: Kathleen Carley

Twitter, Terror and Terms:  Network analytics for assessing large scale media data
Social conversations are carried out online in both social media, e.g., Twitter, and traditional media, e.g., BBN Breaking News. These conversations can be tracked and analyzed to identify both who has influence, who is concerned with what, and how the influence and concerns shift over time in response to events. Findings from a series of case studies are presented, in which advanced social-network focused text-mining and big data analytic techniques are used to identify groups and topics of concern. Studies covered include insider threats, human-trafficking after major disasters, the Arab Spring, and the growth of ISIS.  Results suggest that traditional network metrics need to be modified for a big data environment and covert activity, and that we need to move beyond social networks to high-dimensional dynamic networks.

Kathleen M. Carley, Ph.D. is a Professor of Computer Science in the Institute for Software Research, IEEE Fellow, and Director of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems at Carnegie Mellon University. She joined Carnegie Mellon in 1984 as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Information Systems.  In 1990 she became Associate Professor of Sociology and Organizations, in 1998 Professor of Sociology, Organizations, and Information Technology, and in 2002, attained her current role as Professor of Computation, Organization, and Society.  She is also the CEO of Carley Technologies Inc. aka Netanomics. Dr. Carley’s research combines cognitive science, sociology, and computer science to address complex social and organizational issues. Her most notable research contribution was the establishment of Dynamic Network Analysis (DNA) – and the associated theory and methodology for examining large high-dimensional time variant networks. Her ORA system is one of the premier network analysis and visualization engines supporting geo-temporal analysis of social network and meta-network data. It is used worldwide and at several of the combatant commands.
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Key Dates
March 11 – Deadline for Paper Proposals and Fellowships
April 27 - Early Registration ends
May 15 - Last day to reserve hotel room
June 9 - Last day to register