More press coverage for Mars Mission Research

National Geo Mars Journey

EurekAlert! EurekAlert! – “Northwestern study of analog crews in isolation reveals weak spots for Mission to Mars.”

The Globe and Mail The Globe and Mail – “NASA experiments suggest problems lie ahead for astronauts during Mars mission.”

ScienceDaily Science Daily – “Weak spots for Mission to Mars revealed.” 

The Times of India The Times of India – “Weak spots for Nasa’s manned Mars mission revealed.” New Atlas – “Simulated space journeys to help keep the peace on manned trips to Mars.”

The Daily Galaxy The Daily Galaxy – “Super Humans – NASA Tackles Perils of Astronaut Mission to Mars: 250 Million-Mile Journey.”

Image result for the economist logo The Economist Babbage Podcast – “Joker AAAStrounauts.” 

Livestream AAAS Annual Meeting – “Building a Winning Team for Missions to Mars.” 

Image result for the economist logo The Economist  – “The problems of flying to Mars – Astronauts will have to worry about space radiation – and also each other.”

Tech2 Tech2 – “NASA developing models to predict conflicts among crew members for manned Mars missions.” 

Global Science Global Science – “Pensiero creativo e problem solving: gli umani sfidano Marte.”

El Comercio El Comercio – “Marte | Científicos trabajan en modelo para evitar “fallos psicológicos” en futuros viajes.”

EuropaPress – “Un modelo para predecir fallos psicológicos en el viaje a Marte.”

Electronic Component News Electronic Component News – “Mars Mission Gets Help from Predictive Model, Helps NASA Anticipate Conflicts.” – “Astronauts Struggle with Finishing Tasks on Mock Space Missions.”

CBC CBC Radio – “It’s like a hall of mirrors: In a spacecraft, personalities work better than others.” Northwestern News – “Northwestern study of analog crews in isolation reveals weak spots for Mission to Mars.” 

cnBeta.COM – “西北大学开展模拟太空旅行计划 帮助宇航员更顺利抵达火星” – “Space agencies preparing for 3-year round-trip journey to Mars.” – “Lot na Marsa będzie jeszcze trudniejszy…”

The Daily Northwestern The Daily Northwestern – “Northwestern professors build model for NASA Mars expedition.” North by Northwestern – “On a mission to Mars, teamwork makes the dream work.”

The Times of India The Times of India – “Mental health of Mars’ crew to be monitored.”

WBEZ WBEZ – “Who Can Handle Trip To Mars? Northwestern Helps NASA Predict Strains On Astronauts.”

SONIC Speaker Series Presents: Céline Rozenblat

The SONIC Speaker Series presents

Céline Rozenblat

University of Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland

A Multi-Level Network Perspective on Complex Urban Systems

SONIC Lab is proud to welcome Dr. Céline Rozenblat of the University of Lausanne. She will speak on Tuesday, May 21st at 10 am in Frances Searle Building, Room 1-483. Please contact Brent Hoagland with any questions.

Abstract: In the context of knowledge and information societies, new tendencies in the long/medium term evolution of urban systems, together with new data and methods, require that existing theoretical assumptions and conceptualizations be challenged as global urban hierarchies are reconfigured. The connection between urban systems at different levels of organization becomes more and more relevant for understanding urban systems and their transformations. But the current inter-urban perspective is not sufficient to encompass these dynamics. Other cognitive, social, and institutional proximities in the innovation processes combine with spatial proximities. It leads us to consider cities in several dimensions of proximities in a multilayer perspective. The evolution of power distributions inside and between cities reshapes the world organization of central/peripheral cities and the complexity of the global urban system. Actors as multinational firms, or high-level innovation centers, participate actively in these reconfigurations that concentrate wealth, control, innovation, and attractiveness in a few cities. In the complexity of this multi-level system, how is regionalization of the world reshaping in a multipolar urban world? How does the multi-level perspective highlight some resilience properties? The methodologies derived from complex systems sciences bring new forms of intelligibility to worldwide urban dynamics.

Céline Rozenblat, is professor of Urban Geography at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and president of the urban commission of the International Geographical Union (IGU). She studies systems of cities at European and world scales, multinational firm networks, inter-urban dynamics, comparative urban data, mapping and visualization of networks in geography, and spatial analysis. For several years she has worked on the relations between the evolution of multi-level urban processes and dynamics in city-system networks. To study these topics comparatively, she has built many databases on large European and worldwide cities and the networks they form. In particular, she has dealt since 1990 with databases on multinational firm networks and on city properties and evolution in a multi-dimensional and long temporal approach. Diachronic and dynamic studies supply materials to develop spatial and dynamic models and visualizations. She participated in European projects like ESPON FOCI 2008-2011, FP7 FET Insite (2011-2013) and Multiplex (2012-2016). She also participates to the EuropeAid project with China MEDIUM (2015-2019) on medium size cities in China and launched two projects LOGIICCS (FNS 2015-2018) and MEDIUM (SWISS-Conf. 2016-2018) on modeling Indian and Chinese cities’ integration in global networks of multinational firms and innovation.

Research Lab Manager Position

The SONIC research group and ATLAS laboratory at Northwestern University invite applications for a research lab manager to support lab directors Noshir Contractor (SONIC) and Leslie DeChurch (ATLAS) on administrative and operational aspects of their research portfolios here at Northwestern University – Evanston Campus.

The lab manager will be responsible for supporting a variety of lab operations, including reporting and compliance requirements, communication of findings through digital displays and online materials, and organization and updating of research materials and files. In addition, the lab manager will assist in training new lab members and other research related activities.

  • Preparation and submission of grant reports and other administrative documents needed for compliance.
  • Preparation of materials to promote our research on digital displays and lab websites.
  • Regularly update lab databases tracking publications, presentations, personnel, and other information needed for laboratory operations.
  • Oversee IRB procedures and maintain confidentiality of participant information; ensures compliance with institutional, state and federal regulatory policies, procedures, directives and mandates.
  • Miscellaneous laboratory management tasks such as ordering supplies and maintaining equipment.
Required Competencies:
  • Strong project management skills with exceptional attention to detail.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and ability to maintain positive relationships with various stakeholders.
  • Strong time management skills with a proven ability to multitask and to prioritize activities to successfully complete projects on tight deadlines with little supervision.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office, Dropbox, and Google Drive required.
  • Willingness to learn scientific formatting requirements (e.g., APA format) in preparing research materials.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
Education and Experience:
  • Bachelor’s degree required, preferably in Communication, Psychology, Sociology, Business, Industrial Engineering, or a social science field.
  • Experience in an interdisciplinary research environment preferred.
  • Experience with IRB or grant-writing preferred.

Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and three references (i.e., contact details) to Brent Hoagland ( Additionally, Northwestern University will have a formal application process.

Contractor presents at Network Science Institute, Boston – “People Analytics: Understanding and Enabling the Future of Work.”

To bring the performance of people analytics up—and in line with the hype— organizations need to do more than analyze data on demographic attributes.  They need to employ relational analytics, which examines data on how people interact, to identify “high potentials,” who has good ideas, who is influential, what teams will get work done on time, and more. Companies can mine their “digital exhaust”—data created by employees every day in their digital transactions, such as e‐mails, chats, “likes,” “follows,” @mentions, and file collaboration—for insights into their workforce. Drawing from our ongoing research on space missions, as well as from a large body of other scholars’ research, we identify structural signatures to help organizations address challenges they face with issues such as team conflict, team assembly, diversity and inclusion, succession planning, team assembly, and post-merger integration.


Citation: Contractor, N. (2019, April). People Analytics: Understanding and Enabling the Future of Work. Speaker at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, Boston, MA.

SONIC Speaker Series presents: Jake Fisher

The SONIC Speaker Series presents

Jake Fisher

Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research

Social Space Diffusion: Applications of a Latent Space Model to Diffusion with Uncertain Ties

SONIC Lab is proud to welcome Dr. Jake Fisher of the University of Michigan. He will speak on Monday, April 15th, 2019 at 10 am in Frances Searle Building, SONIC Conference Room 1-459. Please contact Brent Hoagland with any questions.


Social networks represent two different facets of social life: (1) stable paths for diffusion, or the spread of something through a connected population, and (2) random draws from an underlying social space, which indicate the relative positions of the people in the network to one another. The dual nature of networks creates a challenge: if the observed network ties are a single random draw, is it realistic to expect that diffusion only follows the observed network ties? This study takes a first step toward integrating these two perspectives by introducing a social space diffusion model. In the model, network ties indicate positions in social space, and diffusion occurs proportionally to distance in social space. Practically, the simulation occurs in two parts. First, positions are estimated using a statistical model (in this example, a latent space model). Then, second, the predicted probabilities of a tie from that model—representing the distances in social space—or a series of networks drawn from those probabilities—representing routine churn in the network—are used as weights in a weighted averaging framework. Using longitudinal data from high school friendship networks, the author explores the properties of the model. The author shows that the model produces smoothed diffusion results, which predict attitudes in future waves 10 percent better than a diffusion model using the observed network and up to 5 percent better than diffusion models using alternative, non-model-based smoothing approaches.

The forthcoming paper is available online at:

Jacob C. Fisher is a research investigator in the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. His research focuses on developing and testing better network diffusion models, to understand how ideas, innovations, and information spreading through a group of people help to create and maintain a common culture over time.  He obtained his doctorate in sociology and his master’s in statistical science from Duke University.   His work has appeared in Sociological Methodology, Network Science, Social Currents, and other venues.