Virtual NCA 2020 Convention Highlights

Last weekend, current and former SONIC members had the pleasure to present at the Virtual National Communication Association (NCA) Convention 2020. Here’s some highlights from the convention:



If you missed the live session last weekend, watch the recorded conference presentation here:

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ASONAM acceptance!

Sharing another great news – We have a paper accepted to The 2020 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM)! Congrats to authors Aditya Tyagi, Diego Gomez-Zara, and Dr. Noshir Contractor.


The conference is virtual and will be live 7-10 December. More information about the conference can be found here:


Please find the title, abstract and citation of the paper below:

Title: How do Friendship and Advice Ties Emerge? A Case Study of Graduate Student Social Networks

Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the factors that are most likely to explain the formation of friendship and advice ties among 44 students from a professional STEM graduate program.
To answer our research questions, we investigate how students’ characteristics influence the formation of their friendship and advice networks using descriptive network analysis, community
detection, and Exponential Random Graph Models. The results show that the formation of friendship and advice ties is mostly driven by demographic homophily and prior group activities. Our findings also suggest that female students were more constrained in their friendship and advice networks than male students. We discuss the implications of these results for how graduate
students’ social networks form at the beginning of their program.

Index Terms—Homophily, personality, community detection, exponential random graph models, network analysis, minorities.


Gómez-Zará, D., DeChurch, L. A., & Contractor, N. S. Do I Know You? The Effects of Offline Social Capital on Self-Assembled Teams Online. Accepted at the NCA 106th Annual Convention.

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Jasmine and Carmen presents at NCA 2019

Our lab members, Jasmine and Carmen are going to present at NCA 2019 for a paper they wrote on how avatar gender affects female participant’s negotiation style and outcomes in an online environment. This work was based on their undergraduate research at Cornell University. The presentation will be Sunday 11/11, 11am, and the paper was awarded the Best Student Paper at the Organizational Communication Division!

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Noshir Presents “Some Assembly Required” for University of Florida’s CTSI Team Science Talks


Lab Director Noshir Contractor presented his lecture “Some Assembly Required: Organizing in the 21st Century” on Oct. 26, 2015 for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Team Science Talks at the University of Florida. His talk illustrated how comprehensive digital trace data provide an unprecedented exploratorium to model the socio-technical motivations for creating, maintaining, dissolving, and reconstituting into teams – arguing that Network Science is foundational in advancing our understanding of effective team emergence and that these insights are building a new generation of recommender systems that leverage our research insights on the socio-technical motivations for creating ties.

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SONIC Alumnus Featured in NU Alumni Association Spotlight Series

NeelThe Northwestern Alumni Association chose to highlight former SONIC Research Assistant, Neel Kunjur, for his post-college achievements at SpaceX. In his profile, Neel reflects on how his undergraduate education in McCormick prepared him to work at the cutting edge of space technology.

For his full profile, check out:

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Alina Lungeanu Successfully Defends Dissertation: Assembly Mechanisms of Interdisciplinary Scientific Teams and Their Impact on Performance

Alina Lungeanu successfully defended her dissertation proposal titled “Assembly Mechanisms of Interdisciplinary Scientific Teams and Their Impact on Performance” on September 7th, 2015. The committee it was presented to included Noshir Contractor (chair), Darren Gergle, Brian Uzzi, Uri Wilensky, and Teresa Woodruff. Alina is currently a Research Associate at the Population Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University. Congratulations Alina!

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The SONIC Speaker Series: Arno Scharl on Sept. 23rd, 2015

SONIC Lab is proud to welcome Arno Scharl, who will present a talk on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 AM in the SONIC Lab in the Frances Searle Building 1-459. All are welcome to attend. To schedule a one-on-one meeting with Dr. Scharl please schedule a time here. Please contact Meghan McCarter with any questions or comments.


Prof. DDr. Arno SCHARL, Department Head MODUL University Vienna (, innen, sitzend, Interview
Prof. DDr. Arno SCHARL, Department Head MODUL University Vienna (

Web Intelligence and Visual Analytics to Reveal the Impact of Online Communication


The visual analytics tools of the webLyzard Web intelligence platform show the lexical, geospatial and relational context of topics and entities referenced news and social media coverage. This talk illustrates the platform’s capabilities with examples from the Media Watch on Climate Change, the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and the NOAA Media Watch. These applications aggregate environmental Web content from a wide range of online sources, visualize patterns identified in the gathered content, and have led to the development of the webLyzard Stakeholder Dialog and Opinion Model (WYSDOM). Going beyond bipolar assessments of sentiment, WYSDOM provides real-time insights into the success of marketing and public outreach activities. It enables scientists and communication professionals to better understand how different stakeholders perceive observable risks and policy options, how specific media channels react to new insights, and how journalists present scientific knowledge to the public.

Three ongoing research projects advance the presented methods for knowledge extraction [2] and visualization [3]: ASAP increases the scalability of these methods; PHEME enriches their functionality by adding veracity detection to reveal online myths and rumors; DecarboNet extends and applies them to build a knowledge co-creation platform [1] that combines content analysis and social network analysis to identify information diffusion patterns within and across online communities.


Prof. Arno Scharl heads the Department of New Media Technology at MODUL University Vienna, and is the managing director of webLyzard technology. Prior to his current appointments, he held professorships at the University of Western Australia and Graz University of Technology, and was a Visiting Fellow at Curtin University of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley. Arno completed his doctoral research and habilitation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Additionally, he holds a PhD from the University of Vienna, Department of Sports Physiology. Having authored more than 160 refereed publications and edited two books in Springer‘s Advanced Information and Knowledge Processing Series, his research interests focus on Web intelligence and big data analytics, human-computer interaction, and the integration of semantic and geospatial Web technology.


  1. Scharl, A., Hubmann-Haidvogel, A., Sabou, M., Weichselbraun, A. and Lang, H.-P. (2013). “From Web Intelligence to Knowledge Co-Creation – A Platform to Analyze and Support Stakeholder Communication”, IEEE Internet Computing, 17(5): 21-29.
  2. Scharl, A., Herring, D., Rafelsberger, W., Hubmann-Haidvogel, A., Kamolov, R., Fischl, D., Föls, M. and Weichselbraun, A. (2015). “Semantic Systems and Visual Tools to Support Environmental Communication”, IEEE Systems Journal: Forthcoming (Accepted 31 July 2015).
  3. Weichselbraun, A., Gindl, S. and Scharl, A. (2014). “Enriching Semantic Knowledge Bases for Opinion Mining in Big Data Applications”, Knowledge-Based Systems, 69: 78-86.
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