End of Year Summary, 2013-2014

Dear Warren Center Faculty Affiliates —

We hope this note finds you settling in for a productive and enjoyable summer. Much has happened this academic year, and particularly in recent months, in the Warren Center. So we wanted to close the term out with some updates and also let you know about future activities and opportunities.


First, we’d are happy to announce that the Warren Center has hired four stellar and interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellows for the 2014-15 academic year. We thank everyone who nominated what was a tremendous slate of candidates, all of whom exceeded the requirements for excellence and serious hosts/collaborators across two or more departments. The first cohort of Warren Postdoctoral Fellows is:

  • Dr. Julia Kwan, who will be jointly hosted in Physics (Bhuvnesh Jain) and Statistics (Shane Jensen). Julia will be working on data science applied to astronomy and cosmology, and is coming to us from Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Dr. Chad Giusti, who will be jointly hosted in Bioengineering (Dani Bassett) and Mathematics (Rob Ghrist). Chad will be working on network science and topology as applied to the study of the brain. He will be coming from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Dr. Grigory Yaroslavtsev, who will be jointly hosted in Computer and Information Science (Sanjeev Khanna, Michael Kearns) and Statistics (Elchanan Mossel). Grigory will be working on algorithms and combinatorics of large data sets and privacy. He will arrive from Brown University.
  • Dr. Mariann Ollar, who will be hosted jointly in Economics (Mallesh Pai, Ricky Vohra) and Computer and Information Science (Aaron Roth). Mariann will work on problems at the intersection of economics and game theory, computer science, and data science. She will arrive from the University of Wisconsin.

Please join us in welcoming all of them; we’ll provide an opportunity to do so in person at a social gathering in the Fall. All four of them will be arriving at various points over the summer.


The Warren Center Speaker Series got off to a strong start in recent months. We hosted our first two speakers, and in a habit we plan to continue, we had the talks physically held in the most natural hosting department, in an effort to move WC activities around campus and get people to visit other departments. Both talks were very well attended and provided a nice catered lunch. Our speakers were

  • Prof. Matthew Salganik of Princeton’s Sociology department, who spoke on “Wiki Surveys: Open and Quantifiable Social Data Collection”. The talk was hosted in the Annenberg School and organized by WC faculty affiliate Damon Centola.
  • Prof. Michael Macy of Cornell’s Sociology deparment spoke on “Why do Liberals Drink Lattes?”, which was held in Wharton and organized by WC faculty affiliate Shawndra Hill.

Thanks to all of you who attended. We already have a strong and diverse roster of great speakers for the Fall and beyond, including

  • Christos Papidimitriou, UC Berkeley
  • Eva Tardos, Cornell
  • Susan Athey, Stanford
  • Cynthia Dwork, Microsoft Research
  • Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon

These are just the ones already committed, with more in the wings. So we hope to see many more of you going forward. And we welcome further speaker suggestions as well.


In the Fall we are planning a Warren Faculty Symposium, about which all of you should have received mail on April 30. As that email said: “The symposium will provide an opportunity for affiliated members of the Warren Center to speak briefly (10 mins) about their current projects, and suggest directions for connections and possible collaborations with others in the Center.” …and it went on to make a call for participation and attendance. We’ll send out periodic reminders about this — we know how hard it is to think 4 months ahead with a summer in between 🙂 — but we hope many of you will join us to make this a great scientific and social event to kick off the next academic year.


Over the past months, a number of you nominated current doctoral students for WC support. We recently sent out an email saying that for now, we have decided not to provide full doctoral fellowships, as we feel the “bang for the buck” is higher for postdocs, visitors, speakers, special events, workshops etc. But depending on budget we will still consider partial support and should make some decisions over the summer.

Although we do not have (nor feel the need for) a formal process, we remind all of you that the WC remains highly receptive to proposals for special events — workshops, visitors, conferences, summer schools, etc. — that we can provide support or partial support for. Mercifully there are few constraints or rules here, just relevance to the broad topic areas and missions of the center. Please contact us informally any time about your ideas in these directions (or others we’re not even thinking of).

That’s all for now. We want to thank all of you for your participation in the Warren Center, and for your patience as we have been working out various logistics and the like in our first real year of operation. And we of course give warm and special thanks to our generous donors, Fred and Robin Warren, who have been just fantastic partners at every step. It has been an exciting year, and much more lies ahead.
Best Regards,
Michael Kearns
Rakesh Vohra
Directors, Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences