Knowledge Lab

James A. Evans

Director, Knowledge Lab; Professor, Sociology, University of Chicago; Faculty Director, Masters Program in Computational Social Sciences; External Professor, Santa Fe Institute

I am Director of Knowledge Lab, Professor of Sociology, Faculty Director of the Computational Social Science program, and member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. I am also an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. My research focuses on the collective system of thinking and knowing, ranging from the distribution of attention and intuition, the origin of ideas and shared habits of reasoning to processes of agreement (and dispute), accumulation of certainty (and doubt), and the texture--novelty, ambiguity, topology--of human understanding. I am especially interested in innovation--how new ideas and technologies emerge--and the role that social and technical institutions (e.g., the Internet, markets, collaborations) play in collective cognition and discovery. Much of my work has focused on areas of modern science and technology, but I am also interested in other domains of knowledge--news, law, religion, gossip, hunches and historical modes of thinking and knowing. I support the creation of novel observatories for human understanding and action through crowd sourcing, information extraction from text and images, and the use of distributed sensors (e.g., RFID tags, cell phones). I use machine learning, generative modeling, social and semantic network representations to explore knowledge processes, scale up interpretive and field-methods, and create alternatives to current discovery regimes. My research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, Facebook, IBM, the Sloan Foundation, Jump! Trading and other sources, and has been published in Science, PNAS, Nature Human Behavior, Nature Biotech, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Studies of Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, PLoS Computational Biology and other journals. My work has been featured in Nature, the Economist, Atlantic Monthly, Wired, NPR, BBC, El País, CNN and many other outlets. 
At Chicago, I sponsor the Computational Social Science workshop. I teach courses on augmented intelligence, computational content analysis, the history of modern science, science studies, and Internet and Society. Before Chicago, I received my doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, served as a research associate in the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets group at Harvard Business School, started a private high school focused on project-based arts education, and completed a B. A. in Anthropology and Economics at Brigham Young University. In the course of these events, I married Jeannie Evans and we now have four (fabulous) children, Noah, Ruth, Anna and Kate.
Read More

Alexander Belikov

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago

Alexander Belikov is interested in applications of machine learning and natural language processing to social phenomena and texts. Of particular interest to him are the relation extraction and the convergence of social consensus, which can be studied in conjunction. 
Alexander received his B.S. and M.S. from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago.
Prior to joining the Knowledge Lab, he held a two-year postdoc at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris. He also worked as a quantitative researcher in wholesale risk modeling at JP Morgan Chase and later at the exotic equity derivatives desk at Barclays Capital in New York.
Read More

Austin Kozlowski

Graduate RA, University of Chicago

I am a doctoral student in the Chicago sociology department. My research focuses on the questions of how belief systems are structured and why certain ideas seem to “go together.” By applying state-of-the-art computational methods, I attempt to shed new light on these age-old questions from the sociology of knowledge and culture.
At Knowledge Lab, I am currently engaged in a project utilizing word embeddings to discover cultural associations and categories in text. This project aims to advance an analytical and relational approach to the study culture, building-up our understanding of how meanings are situated with respect to one another in a cultural system.
Before coming to the University of Chicago, I earned my BA in Sociology at the University of Michigan and worked as a research associate with the Chitwan Valley Family Study at the UM Institute for Social Research. During my time at Michigan, I conducted research on the effects of agricultural technology adoption among subsistence farm households in Nepal.
Read More

Molly Lewis

Postdoctoral Scholar, UChicago

My research focuses on understanding how linguistic meaning--semantic space--is acquired in cognitive development, changes over historical time, and varies cross-linguistically. I am also interested in issues related to scientific replicability and reproducibility. I received my PhD in Developmental Psychology from Stanford University, where I worked with Michael Frank. Before that, I received a BA in Linguistics from Reed College.
At the Knowledge Lab, my work examines cross-linguistic variability in the alignment of linguistic meaning using large scale corpora. I am co-advised by James Evans at the Knowledge Lab and Gary Lupyan in the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Read More

Candice Lewis

Assistant Director, Knowledge Lab, University of Chicago

Candice Lewis has a Ph.D. in Genetics and is the Assistant Director of the Knowledge Lab. She is the strategic and operational manager for the group, coordinating research activities, asset allocation, publicity, educational and training opportunities and managing grant proposals and deadlines. She also organizes Knowledge Lab events such as conferences and symposia.

Read More

Lingfei Wu

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago

My research interest is the sciences of collaboration and innovation. I apply mathematical models and machine learning techniques to analyze collective knowledge production systems, including Web of Science, U.S. patents, Stack Exchange, GitHub. My works were published on journals including Physical Review E, Scientific Reports, PloS ONE, and also generated broad interested among diverse audience in New Scientists and Science Daily. I got my PhD in Communication from the City University of Hong Kong in 2013. Overlapping with the PhD program I spent a year in Baidu as an algorithm engineer (internship). I joined Knowledge Lab in 2016 after working two years in the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment at Arizona State University as a post-doc researcher. I am a core member of Swarma Club, a research network in Beijing with a vision to bridge academic, industry, and government. I love dogs but never got a chance to keep one. I am hosting Lu Gu (meaning yesterday once more in Chinese), a Podcast to encourage guests (mostly junior scientists) to share awkward moments and tough times of life. Find me at lingfeiw AT if you are not a robot and got real questions to ask.

Read More

Brendan Chambers

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago

Brendan is a creative data scientist specializing in complex interconnected systems. He performed his PhD research in the MacLean Laboratory for Cortical Circuits and Network Neuroscience, studying emergent activity patterns in the neurons of neocortex. His current work is situated at the intersection between machine learning, communication networks, and the sociology of science.

Brendan has been recognized as an NSF S-STEM Fellow in Computation & Modeling and an NSF IGERT Fellow in the Neural Control of Movement. His work in collaboration with Dr. Jason MacLean was nominated for a Hot Topic Award by the Society for Neuroscience and distinguished as a Top 50 Most-Downloaded Article by PLOS Computational Biology.

Brendan grew up in Iowa and studied computer science at Oberlin College. He is a hobbyist electronic musician and climber. You can find him on Twitter via @societyoftrees.

Read More

Eamon Duede

Special Advisor, Knowledge Lab, University of Chicago

Eamon served as the Executive Director of Knowledge Lab from 2013 - 2017. He held a key leadership role in strategic and operational planning and management. He was responsible for coordinating day-to-day research activities, asset allocation and distribution (including a major regranting program), supporting and driving key negotiations, as well as acting as a high-level interface between the Center, its partners, and industry.

Eamon holds a B.A. and M.A. in philosophy and has served as an instructor of various logics, and a lecturer in philosophy (ethics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy) and is currently persuing a Ph.D in the Philosophy and Sociology of Science from the University of Chicago's Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science.

His academic interests are focused on the constellation of problems fixed around the concepts ‘perception’, ‘belief’, and ‘knowledge’. Philosophy and Sociology of Science; Bayesian Epistemology; the Science of Data; the Role of Mathematical and Statistical Models in Knowledge Creation, Ratification, Propagation, and Rejection; Statistical Inference (Deduction, Induction, and Abduction).

Read More

Xiaoshuang Jia

Graduate Student, Sun Yat-sen University

I'm interested in social interactions, connections, and their outcomes. From the perspective
of social network, I use computational methods such as network analysis, text analysis, and
Agent-based Modeling to study sociological questions in the field of mobility, survey
methodology, and the sociology of knowledge. As a computational sociologist, I also
interested in the study of the state-of-the-art computational methods and techniques.
At Knowledge Lab, I participate in a project which attempted to use machine learning to
make simplicity-description and causality-prescription of individual-level data generated from
Agent-based Modeling.
I have been visiting the Knowledge Lab at the University of Chicago since Dec 2017. I'm a
doctoral student in the sociology department of Sun Yat-sen University, where I received my
B.A. and M.A. in Sociology.

Read More

Linzhou Li

Graduate Student, University of Chicago

I am a PhD student in Chicago Sociology Department. My research interest is mostly related to economic and cultural change. More specifically, I made efforts in understanding questions such as the substitution and generalization of social, cultural and ideological values; reasoning based upon (and constrained by) the cultural system; and the self-organization of local financial and economic behaviors. 

I employ intensively state-of-the-art computational methods as well as traditional ethnographic tools to guide my research. A most recent project of mine applies a new embedding technique to embed words and tags into hyperbolic space to uncover the hidden hierarchical structure of 21st century physics. I am also collaborating with my colleague Shilin Jia to uncover cultural and ideological autonomy using China’s newspaper People’s Daily from 1946 to 2003.

Before coming to Chicago, I received my BA and MA degree from Tsinghua University. 

Read More

Bhargav Desikan

Graduate Student, University of Chicago

Bhargav is currently a student in the MA in Computational Social Science program at UChicago. He spent the last two years working in France on statistical learning and doing a lot of work using python - He has published a book on doing Natural Language Processing using python, and has also published in the Journal of Machine Learning Research. He is very broadly interested in how ideas propagate, how technology and the internet has changed the way we live our daily lives, and in using Computer Science for Social Science research. He is currently working with the Knowledge Lab on understanding innovation in cities, and particularly how syllabi and publication data can be used to measure this.

Read More

Donghyun Kang

Graduate Student, University of Chicago

Donghyun Kang is a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago Sociology Department. His overarching academic interest centers on the hybridization of ideas across disciplinary boundaries. Using cutting-edge network and text analysis methods, he aspires to shed light on the social conditions, processes, and consequences of interdisciplinary research. He is also interested in employing experimental designs to study the social processes that generate consensus or dissonance when conflicting theories and evidence coexist.

Prior to coming to the University of Chicago, Donghyun received a B.A. in Business Administration and M.A. in Sociology at Seoul National University. He also worked as a research assistant/associate at Social Network Computing Center (SNCC) in Seoul National University, where he collaborated with researchers from Cyram Inc. During his time at SNCC, he analyzed Twitter data to study the online mobilization of protests in South Korea.

Read More