Panel Discussion

Wednesday, July 28, 17:00-18:30 UTC+2

Science during Crises: Quick! But Dirty?

What characterizes science during a crisis, and why and how do researchers engage with it? What are the risks and opportunities for science during a crisis? 

This panel brings together experts from different CSS-related subject areas to discuss these and other questions. While the Corona-Crisis will be – naturally – a central topic, the panel also seeks to find general insights that apply to science (and particularly CSS) in times of societal crises. This includes for example setting research agendas, funding, collaboration, time pressure, sharing of methods, data and results, as well as publishing modes, including to a wider audience. The panel will also discuss inequalities exacerbated by crises, for example the unequal opportunities for committing time to research.

The Panelists

David Lazer (Ph.D University of Michigan, 1996) is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences, Northeastern University, and Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. His scholarship focuses on computational social science and social networks, with a particular focus on misinformation and political communication. He co-founded and is co-leading the COVID states project, a 50 state survey of attitudes and behaviors during the COVID crisis in the United States. His research has been published in such journals as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and the American Political Science Review. His most recent book is Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy (Cambridge, 2018), authored with Michael Neblo and Kevin Esterling.

Sune Lehmann is a professor of complexity and network science at the Technical University of Denmark and a professor of data science at the University of Copenhagen. Sune’s work focuses on quantitative understanding of social systems based on massive data sets. A physicist by training, his research draws on approaches from the physics of complex systems, machine learning, and statistical analysis. He works on large-scale behavioral data and while my primary focus is on modeling complex networks, his research has made substantial contributions on topics such as human mobility, sleep, academic performance, complex contagion, epidemic spreading, and behavior on twitter. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have served as a member of the task force established by the Danish government to model the spread in Denmark, and also supporting the Danish Contact Tracing App.

Katja Mayer is a sociologist at the University of Vienna, Department of Science and Technology Studies. Her research examines the interactions between computational methods and their public spheres, focusing on the cultural, ethical and socio-technical challenges at the interface of computer science, social sciences and society. In addition, she is Senior Scientist at the Center for Social Innovation in Vienna and Associate Researcher at the University of Vienna’s ‘Governance of Digital Practices’ platform. She is also a member of the Open Access Network Austria’s core team, co-heading the ‘National Strategy for the Transition to Open Science’ working group.

Mary Elizabeth Sutherland is a senior editor at Nature where she handles papers whose topics span the behavioral sciences. Initially trained in cognitive neuropsychology at McGill, she continued integrating neuroscience and psychology in her postdoc at the Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile. She then spent a brief stint as a professor at that same institution before moving to an editorial position at Nature Communications. After two years, she joined the editorial team at Nature Human Behaviour; she moved to Nature nearly two years ago to take over a new editorial position for the behavioural sciences on Nature’s biological sciences team. In this role, she publishes cutting edge research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, sociology, computational social sciences, education, among others, and works with these various communities to uphold a high standard of scientific rigor.

Ludo Waltmann is professor of Quantitative Science Studies and deputy director at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. He is also associate director of the Research on Research Institute. His work focuses on developing new infrastructures, algorithms, and tools to support research assessment, science policy, and scholarly communication. Ludo serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Quantitative Science Studies.

The Organizers

Fabian Flöck is a tenured researcher at the Computational Social Science department at GESIS where he leads the Data Science team. His research concerns open and rigourous data science and natural language processing in the context of CSS, as well as human computation. He is particularly interested in quality and understandability of ML methods and the data they are applied to when measuring social constructs.

He is a lecturer at RWTH Aachen and GESIS, and has built several services and tools for making data and methods more accessible for CSS researchers from heterogeneous disciplines, and has published quality guidelines for CSS research.

Jana Lasser is a PostDoc at the Computational Social Science lab at TU Graz. Her reserach interests span the modelling and understanding of complex societal phenomena, such as the spread of misinformation. After obtaining a PhD in physics with a focus on nonlinear dynamics and complex systems at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, she shifted her research focus to Data Science and Computational Social Science in her PostDoc. During the first year of the pandemic, she worked at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, developing models of small communities such as schools and nursing homes and investigating the most effective way to implement measures to curb the spread of the virus. She recently followed Prof. David Garcia to TU Graz to start the new Computational Social Science lab and teach in the novel master’s program for Computational Social Systems at TU Graz. Next to her research interests, Jana is a vocal advocate of Open and transparent research practices as well as good working conditions in academia. She frequently gives talks and workshops about topics such as mental health of early career researchers, power abuse in academia and ways to foster good research practices.