Assistant Professor and PhD Program Director Jana Diesner is a sessions chair and presenter for the 38th Sunbelt Conference, which will be held on June 26-July 1 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The conference provides a venue for social scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, ethnologists, epidemiologists, public health experts, and others to present current work in the area of social networks.
Diesner co-organized the "Words and Networks" sessions, which are dedicated to innovative research at the intersection of text analysis (including discourse analysis, content analysis, text mining, and natural language processing) and network analysis. Previous research has shown that without considering the content of text data for certain types of network analysis—e.g., when studying communication networks and social media networks—we are limited in our ability to understand the impact of language use on networks and vice versa. This year, the "Words and Networks" track consists of five session with a total of 19 presentations.
Diesner also will present "Reliable Construction of Semantic Networks Based on Text Data and Measurement of Effects in Text-based Networks," with doctoral student Ming Jiang and Informatics doctoral student Siva Narisetti. Their study applied various techniques to extract nodes and edges from text data, and evaluates the accuracy of those techniques. According to the researchers, "The ultimate goal of this work is to identify best practices for generating reliable text-based network data while also considering context, e.g., genre and domain. This research can mature and advance semantic network analysis and is extensible to measure linguistic effects in social networks."
Diesner's research in human-centered data science and computational social sciences combines methods from network science, natural language processing, and machine learning with theories from the social sciences, humanities, and linguistics to advance knowledge and discovery about interaction-based and information-based systems. Recognition for her research expertise includes appointments as the CIO Scholar for Information Research & Technology at Illinois (2018), a faculty fellow at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois (2015), and a research fellow in the Dori J. Maynard Senior Research Fellows program (2016), which is a collaboration of The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. She holds a PhD from the Computation, Organizations and Society (COS) program at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science.