The University of Massachusetts Amherst

DACSS - LARP Spring Research Symposium 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Students in the Data Analytics and Computational Social Science (DACSS) program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were among the 70 graduate and undergraduate students who participated in a poster session in partnership with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) at the end of the spring semester.

The May 5, 2022 event was the largest poster session hosted by DACSS to date, with five classes participating: Professor Doug Rice’s LEGAL393E Empirical Legal Studies class, Professor Justin Gross’s DACSS 695M Machine Learning for Social Science class, Lecturer Eunkyung Song’s DACSS 697D Text-as-Data class, Professor Meredith Rolfe’s DACSS 697E Network Analysis class, and Professor Henry Renski’s REGIONPL 625 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Planning class. Guests included College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) alumni Adam Rodell and Mike Sullivan, and SBS Dean Karl Rethemeyer.

Noah Milstein, a student in the DACSS program, created a poster detailing his networks research on conflicts from 1000 to 1200 A.D. Entitled, “Crusades, Community, and Canon”, Milstein used “dyadic centrality analysis, equivalence, and hierarchical clustering to understand the importance of individual factions” as well as “community clustering to detect ‘communities’ of conflict.

Five undergraduate students from Legal 393E presented a poster entitled “Understandings of Femicide and the Limits of ‘Easy’ Definitions.” The students included Kenneth Bufford, Austyn Demers, Chris Johnson, Sean O’Leary, and Jared Henry. The group looked at survey data to gauge “respondents' recognition of femicide within different scenarios.”  They found that “the definition presented to each person plays an important role in the disconnect between different genders, backgrounds, and education levels.”

DACSS hosts a poster session on UMass’s Reading Day every fall and spring semester. The goal of these sessions is to showcase the work of DACSS students while also raising the profile of student research in computational social science.

“One of the best parts of research is to allow communication of diverse viewpoints using a shared language,” Dr. Meredith Rolfe, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and DACSS Program Director, explained. She pointed to the undergraduate research on femicide as an example: the students were interested in a poorly understood phenomenon - public opinion towards gender-based killings - and used skills learned in class to contribute to a deeper understanding of how information can shift public response to femicide.

Faculty and alumni who attended the session can nominate posters, which are then selected to present at similar events during the DACSS New Student Orientation in August and UMass Homecoming. Awards are also presented to some of the selected posters. Awards include Best Data, Best Presentation, Best Policy Implications, Best Visualizations, and Best Overall.

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student who is currently doing computational social science research and is interested in presenting at a future poster session, please contact DACSS at