NetLab is Dr. John McLevey’s lab group at the University of Waterloo. The lab is funded in part by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Students working in NetLab are primarily focused on developing Python packages for computational social science research on science and technology.
Dr. John McLevey
John is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Knowledge Integration at the University of Waterloo, and is cross-appointed to Sociology & Legal Studies, the School of Environment, Resources, & Sustainability, and Geography and Environmental Management. He’s also an Affiliated Researcher at the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation and a Policy Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
John is a sociologist by training, but his work is increasingly interdisciplinary. He primarily works in the areas of social network analysis and computational social science, with substantive interests in the sociologies of science, education, technology, and the environment. He is involved in a variety of projects that combine established sociological theories and methods (e.g. surveys, interviews) with computational methods (e.g. statistical network models, natural language processing, automated text analysis) to address debates in social science, informatics, and public policy. He research is currently funded by 8 research grants, including an Early Researcher Award from from the Ministry of Research and Innovation in Ontario and 5 Grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Outside of work, John is interested in photography, hiking and cycling, board games, weird podcasts and music, cats, and craft cocktails.
Alexander (Sasha) Graham
Alexander (Sasha) is a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Waterloo. His undergraduate degree was in Knowledge Integration, focusing on computer science and mathematics. His research interests include social network analysis, computational sociology, quantitative methods, sociology of science, bibliometrics, and diversity. His Master’s thesis was on measuring the associations between intellectual diversity in research areas, impact, and productivity. He is currently involved in research projects on the structure of intellectual fields in the science and humanities, collaboration between organizations related to Aboriginal youth health, improved estimation methods for directed acyclic graphs using ERGMs, and evolutionary game theory.
Brittany is currently completing her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Waterloo. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation research is focused on the educational and labour market aspirations and outcomes of recent graduates, with a specific focus on graduate education. In particular, her research examines changes in the nature of graduate education in the knowledge based economy, and on non-academic career trajectories. Brittany’s research is mixed-methods in nature. She relies heavily on quantitative methods (e.g. multi-level modelling, multinomial logistic regression) to assess broad trends in educational and occupational outcomes. However, she also employs in-depth interviews to further explore respondents’ experiences. Brittany also serves as editor-in-chief of the Canadian Graduate Journal of Sociology & Criminology (CGJSC), and is the co-chair of the Applied Sociology Cluster for the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA).
Pierson is a 2nd-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies. He often uses the euphemism ‘diverse’ to describe his academic interests; they include international relations, game theory, embedded ethnography, social network analysis, and – most saliently – the human act of play. Instead of abandoning any of these focus areas, Pierson threw paradigmatic parsimony to the wind and cobbled them together into a Frankenstein’s Monster of a dissertation project, the aim of which is to examine the generation, diffusion, and permutation of strategic thought in communities of play – a range of phenomena collectively referred to as “metagaming.”
Substantively and methodologically, Pierson’s time at Netlab has greatly contributed to his dissertation research. Since joining Netlab in the Fall of 2016, he has been involved in the lab’s research on the evolution of collaboration networks in Linux development, disciplinary divides between sciences and the philosophy thereof, and inter-institutional collaboration in the study of infectious diseases. He is also a founding member of the cult of Brad (the NetLab Linux server).
Pierson is an active member of the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute, where he serves as Essays Editor for the institute’s weekly open-access game studies publication First Person Scholar. He has also contributed to a number of projects, including The MindCraft Project (an interactive installation in the New Museum’s Ideas City exhibition which re-purposed a popular play platform to explore issues surrounding intergenerational communication and environmental sustainability), and Geek Girls, Gina Hara’s 2017 documentary exploring the practices and perspectives of women in fandom communities.
As part of NetLab’s software development team, Jillian has contributed to projects such as gitnet, mkD3, tidyextractors, and recordlinkage. Additionally, as part of her Bachelor of Knowledge Integration Honours Thesis, Jillian developed cydr, an open source R package for cleaning agricultural yield data. This was a perfect project for Jillian (who grew up on a family farm in Saskatchewan), because it enabled her to apply her data cleaning skills to “automate the boring stuff” and address a problem for agricultural producers in Western Canada. Now that her undergraduate degree is finished, Jillian is starting a professional masters in Big Data (MSc Computer Science) at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. She plans on supplementing class on topics such as machine learning and data visualization with plenty of hiking and cycling, preferably on a near 1-to-1 ratio.
Joel is an early career data scientist and a recently graduated Bachelor of Knowledge Integration. As an undergraduate, he combined his interests in organizational psychology, computer science, and interdisciplinarity to research scientific collaboration networks, student disillusionment, and the effect of intersectional identity on workplace supervisors’ experiences of discrimination. When not developing software for NetLab, he sings for the Da Capo Chamber Choir, plays the blues, settles Catan, and escapes to the forest as much as possible!
Steve is a software developer and research assistant. He is interested in a huge variety of topics in programming and technology, from natural language processing to cryptocurrency. He contributes to Networks Lab software packages that aim to make computational social science easier and more accessible to sociologists and scientists. He writes code in Python and R, and he also spends time tending to the lab’s fickle Linux server Brad. When he is not working Steve can be found reading his favourite blogs like Lewis and Quark and Coding Horror, or following the Toronto Maple Leafs. Steve holds an Honours Bachelor of Knowledge Integration and a minor in economics from the University of Waterloo. In September 2017, Steve started a new journey in programming, becoming part of a small team of data scientists at the Canadian Government’s department of Employment and Social Development.
Reid is a Masters student in computational social science at Knowledge Lab at the University of Chicago. He is primarily interested in machine learning and natural language processing. Before that he was a student in mathematical physics at the University of Waterloo, where he became interested in computational social science, social networks, and the sociology of science after taking a seminar with John McLevey. Reid and McLevey continue to collaborate on the Python package metaknowledge.