Carnegie Mellon University

Center for Informed Democracy & Social - cybersecurity (IDeaS)

CMU's center for disinformation, hate speech and extremism online

IDeaS Center for Informed Democracy & Social-cybersecurity

Knight Fellows

Daniele Bellutta (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Daniele Bellutta (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Graduate Research Assistant, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
TCS Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Daniele Bellutta was raised in both the Los Angeles area and the Trentino province of Italy, where he was born. He holds bachelor's degrees in computer science and political science from The Ohio State University as well as a master's degree in computer science from Dartmouth College. He has interned at such places as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has conducted research in diverse fields, including radar mapping and terrorist network analysis. Currently, he is a doctoral student in the societal computing program in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where his research applies network science to topics such as online disinformation.

Description of Research:

Daniele Bellutta's recent research has focused on assessing the influence of bots in Twitter conversations about national elections. His project for the fellowship seeks to model user actions as a vehicle for measuring the effects of online misinformation on user behavior. Such research strives to fill in the gap of knowledge surrounding misinformation's actual impact on people.

Cori Faklaris (Fall '20)

Cori Faklaris (Fall '20)

Doctoral Student Researcher, Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Cori Faklaris is a Phd candidate at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in CMU's School of Computer Science (expected graduation: 2022). She holds a master's degree in human-computer interaction from Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing in Indianapolis, and a bachelor's degree in journalism (news-editorial sequence) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Media. 
Prior to graduate studies, Faklaris spent nearly 20 years in the news industry in a variety of roles, some public-facing (reporter, digital news personality, engagement producer) and some behind the scenes (editor, designer, IT analyst, UX researcher). She has worked for a variety of nonprofit and industry clients as a freelancer, intern and/or consultant.

Description of Research:

Faklaris' thesis-directed research lies in the human factors of cybersecurity, in two parallel tracks. The first track is understanding people’s security attitudes and behaviors (such as predicting whether they will update software or explaining ignorance of UX cues to “fake news”). The second track is empowering people to keep themselves and their networks secure in a social context (such as defining needs and creating tools to better enable account sharing by couples or workgroups). 

Catherine King  (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Catherine King (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Graduate Student Researcher, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
TCS Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Catherine King is a Ph.D. student in Societal Computing at Carnegie Mellon University advised by Dr. Kathleen Carley. Before coming to CMU, she earned a BS in Mathematics and an MS in Computational Operations Research at The College of William and Mary. She worked for a few years in industry before deciding to attend CMU to obtain her Ph.D. While her research interests have changed over time, she has always been interested in understanding technology's impact on society and applying her modeling skills to real-world systems.  

In her free time, Catherine enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with family and friends, and practicing her Italian.
Description of Research:
Catherine's research interest focuses on the societal challenges associated with social media misinformation and polarization. In particular, she is working on understanding why individuals share misinformation on social media and what effects this misinformation and polarization have on society. While social media platforms have improved our lives in many ways, it is essential to understand if and how the spread of misinformation is affecting political outcomes, such as election results, the efficacy of public policy, or trust in political institutions and the media. 

Christine Lepird  (Fall '20)

Christine Lepird (Fall '20)

Graduate Student Researcher, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
TCS Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Christine Sowa is a Societal Computing PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University where I’m advised by Dr. Kathleen Carley in CASOS.  Prior to CMU, she worked for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab where she earned my masters in Computer Science at night and as a data scientist at Wayfair where she created recommender systems. Christine earned her BS from MIT where she double majored in Math and Management Operations Research. 

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming with her Masters team, doing house repair projects, and spending time with her dog, husband, and two cats. She is originally from Media, Pennsylvania. 

Description of Research:

Christine's primary area of research is in social network analysis - a field of study that investigates social structures through ties of various strengths. I investigate suspicious network behavior on platforms like Reddit and Facebook in order to differentiate between organic communities and malicious networks that post fake news.

Thomas Magelinski (Fall '20)

Thomas Magelinski (Fall '20)

Graduate Student Researcher, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
TCS Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Thomas Magelinski is a fourth-year PhD. Student in Societal Computing advised by Professor Kathleen Carley. His research falls at the intersection of Network Science, Dynamical Systems, and Machine Learning. Specifically, his work seeks to leverage network dynamics to better understand social media discourse. He received an ARCS foundation scholarship in 2017 to support this work. He obtained the Honors Baccalaureate Degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech in 2017, with minors in Math and Physics. His undergraduate thesis focused on computational models of military air drop systems.

Description of Research:

Tom is currently working on developing and applying dynamic community detection methods for multipartite networks to Twitter discourse. The goal is to find and characterize communities propagating misleading information. Specifically, he is the investigating the spread of untrustworthy news articles in the COVID-19 discussion, and the Reopen America campaign.

 

James Michelson (Spring '21)

James Michelson (Spring '21)

PhD candidate in Logic, Computation and Methodology, Philosophy

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

James Michelson is a PhD candidate in Logic, Computation and Methodology at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Philosophy. His interests include decision and game theory, ethics of AI, and philosophy of social science. Before doing his PhD James was a senior data scientist at Civis Analytics, where he developed distributed machine learning software and researched new methods for individual-level election turnout modeling. He is originally from London, UK and holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a BSc in Government from the London School of Economics.
Description of Research:
James is interested in designing resilient democratic institutions using techniques from economic and political theory. He believes that leveraging the developments of mechanism design, an economic paradigm for designing institutions, we can insulate democratic institutions from the pressures of misinformation. Furthermore, James is interested in using new ideas from political theory about the nature of randomness in democratic processes to further this goal. Using the institution of 'Lottocracy' as a point of departure James will investigate how to design institutions that are robust to potentially dangerous cyber-mediated changes in society.

Isabel Murdock (Spring '21)

Isabel Murdock (Spring '21)

Graduate Student Researcher, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Isabel Murdock is a Ph.D. student in Electrical and Computing Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and is advised by Dr. Kathleen M. Carley and Dr. Osman Yağan. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from CMU, while completing Air Force ROTC at the University of Pittsburgh. She has interned at the Software Engineering Institute and National Reconnaissance Office, and enjoys volunteering with STEM-focused outreach programs for local middle and high school students.

Description of Research:

Isabel's research focuses on the multi-platform spread of information over social media. Specifically, she is interested in building models that accurately reflect how information propagates between social media platforms and analyzing the potential impact of different intervention strategies on the spread of misinformation.  

Jack Parker (Fall '20)

Jack Parker (Fall '20)

PhD Candidate, Philosophy

  • Doherty Hall 4301-F
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Jack Parker is a PhD student in the CMU Philosophy Department, researching the ethics of behavioral influence via operant conditioning. They are broadly interested in ethical issues related to changing technology, as well as topics in political philosophy and philosophy of disability. Previously, they have worked on questions related to scientific and statistical inference.

Description of Research:

My research explores the ethical significance of using reinforcement learning to influence human behavior, by cultivating or distorting preferences. I focus on two potential sources of cyber-mediated influence: preference cultivation by online services seeking to increase user engagement, and preference distortion by recommender systems. 

 

Christopher Rodriguez (Spring '21)

Christopher Rodriguez (Spring '21)

Graduate Student Researcher, Behavioral Marketing & Decision Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Chris Rodriguez is a PhD student in Behavioral Marketing & Decision Research at Carnegie Mellon University in the Tepper School of Management and the Department of Social and Decision Sciences where he is advised by Danny Oppenheimer. His interests revolve around how people make judgements and decisions in a variety of contexts, from everyday life to large financial decisions. Prior to this, he received his BA in Economics from Yale University.

Description of Research:

Chris' current research aims to develop better bot detection techniques. Bots can propagate information of dubious reliability and contaminate data in online social science research. With the advancement of bots, more and more bots are able to pass standard detection methodologies. With an approach grounded in psychology, Chris aspires to design better procedures to differentiate between humans and bot.

Mansi Sood (Fall '20)

Mansi Sood (Fall '20)

PhD Candidate, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Mansi Sood Mansi Sood  is a PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University since Fall 2018 advised by Prof. Osman Yağan.  Prior to this, she completed her Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Design from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India. Her research interests broadly include modeling and analysis of networks using tools from probability, graph theory, learning and optimization. In addition to her research, she is extremely passionate about teaching science and painting.

Description of Research:

Mansi's research at CMU focuses on developing mathematical frameworks to model real-world networks such as communication networks and social networks. Her current research in network science focuses on: i) mitigating the spread of misinformation over social networks and infectious diseases over contact networks;  ii) designing reliably connected network topologies with applications in sensor networks, cryptocurrency networks and distributed learning.

Aman Tyagi (Fall '20)

Aman Tyagi (Fall '20)

Graduate Student Researcher, Engineering and Public Policy

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Aman Tyagi is a Ph.D. student in Engineering and Public Policy, CMU, where he is advised by Prof. Kathleen M. Carley. He is part of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) and Center for Informed Democracy & Social - cybersecurity (IDeaS). His research interests lie in the intersection of network analytics, natural language processing, and political science. Previously, he has worked on targeted advertisements in next-generation TV. He completed his Masters from CMU and did his undergraduate in ECE from IIIT-H. 

Description of Research:

Aman Tyagi's research work focuses on polarization, fake news, and media bias on social media. As part of his thesis, he is developing tools to find bias and polarization in climate change debate on social media to inform policymakers about appropriate messaging.

Joshua Uyheng (Spring '21)

Joshua Uyheng (Spring '21)

Graduate Student Researcher, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Joshua Uyheng is a third-year PhD student in societal computing at Carnegie Mellon University. He is advised by Dr. Kathleen Carley at the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS). His research combines machine learning, network science, and social and cognitive psychology to examine the large-scale dynamics of hate speech and disinformation on social media platforms. He is especially interested in comparative work focused on the Asia-Pacific and the Global South. Previously, he has conducted research on human-in-the-loop modelling and computational social systems at Heidelberg University and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology. He holds an MS in societal computing from Carnegie Mellon University, and undergraduate degrees in mathematics and psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. He hails from the Philippines.


Description of Research:

Josh’s current research uses social identity theory and constructural theory to conceptualize online hate speech in terms of the narrative and network dynamics of groups. His work develops computational methods which characterize the prevalence and targets of hate speech, the properties of hateful communities, and how these processes are exploited by bots and trolls in the context of information operations. He specifically investigates these issues across diverse online conversations around national elections, natural disasters, social unrest, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his research, he aims to expand global and interdisciplinary understandings of the problem of hate speech, and ultimately illuminate new directions for making digital platforms more resilient to violence and conflict.

Ramon Villa-Cox  (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Ramon Villa-Cox (Fall '20, Spring '21)

Graduate Student Researcher, Institute for Software Research

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
TCS Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Ramon Villa-Cox is a graduate student researcher at the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University. His advisor is Kathleen M. Carley.