NO. 2 • SPRING 2009
VOLUME XXXI • NO. 2 • SPRING 2009 E d it o r Lauren J. Bryant De s i g ne r Kelly Carnahan Advisory Board John Carini Associate Professor of Physics IU Bloomington Claude Cookman Associate Professor of Journalism IU Bloomington Deborah Finkel Professor of Psychology IU Southeast Kirsten Grønbjerg Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs IU Bloomington Shanker Krishnan Associate Professor of Marketing IU Bloomington Arthur Liou Associate Professor of Fine Arts IU Bloomington Portia Maultsby Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology IU Bloomington Eric Schoch Science Writer, Office of Public and Media Relations IU School of Medicine Published by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research Sarita Soni Vice Provost for Research Indiana University
f Henry H.H. Remak had had a Facebook page, it likely would have crashed the system. As anyone who ever met him knows, Henry was an instant friendmaker, and over his 60+ years as a citizen of Bloomington and an Indiana University faculty member, he made a lot of friends. Henry Remak died on February 12, 2009, at age 92. A professor emeritus of comparative literature, Germanic studies, and West European studies, he also served the university as a dean, vice chancellor, institute director, and a member of countless committees and boards, among them the advisory board for this magazine. Henry was an ever-thoughtful contributor to discussions about the magazine’s scope and content. He responded to each issue with one of his signature typewritten memos, assessing everything from the composition of the photographs to size of the type to the substance of the stories. He was an unstinting advocate, recommending the magazine to administrators new to IU and supporting its publication with random “surprise donations” over the years. In the years I knew him, Henry Remak was a man of boundless energy, good humor, and profound commitments. Crisscrossing campus each day wearing quirky hats and colorful pants, Henry believed in movement. “Move a lot, talk a lot, travel a lot,” he told an interviewer for this magazine in 2001. “Lack of stimulation and lack of company can have a terrible effect.” He adored music and was proud of the fact that he’d appeared in seven IU operas, though he often joked that he was forbidden to sing in any of them. Above all, Henry was dedicated to protecting the “heart and soul of our alma mater,” as he put it. As competitive pressures began to challenge universities, he worried about the fragmentation and alienation that might ensue. He valued collaboration, long before it was an academic buzzword. We must “protect the idea and reality of the university community, the university family,” he once wrote. IU, he argued, is “a community for rather than against each other.” As I said, Henry was a friendmaker. Toward the end of his 2001 interview, Henry worried about something else — having to stop teaching. When he finally did, at age 88, he had already retired at least twice and had been in the classroom longer than any other IU Bloomington faculty member. He taught, gratis, for all those decades because he truly loved it, and the thought of quitting depressed him. “The great fear in aging is that you’ll be forgotten,” he said. Henry H.H. Remak need never have worried about that. –L.B.
Railroad Crossing by ozgurdonmaz, photographer, from www.istockphoto.com
[ F ront cover ]
[ I n s i d e f r o n t c o v e r ] Image of a functional gene network in flies. The dots represent genes, and the lines indicate that the connected genes share a common function. Image courtesy of Justen Andrews [ TA B L E O F CONTENTS ] Top, Birds on a Wire by Steinner, photographer, from www.istockphoto.com; Bottom, photo of Nicole Jacquard’s Oxford Star Red and Blue Teacups by Kevin Montague
Research & Creative Activity is published by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. It is intended to stimulate greater awareness of and appreciation for the diverse scholarly and creative activities conducted across the campuses of Indiana University. For permission to reprint material from the magazine or for inquiries regarding its content, please contact the Editor, Research & Creative Activity, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Indiana University, Franklin Hall 116, 601 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405-7000; phone (812) 855-4152; e-mail email@example.com. Research & Creative Activity is a member of the University Research Magazine Association (www.urma.org). All contents Copyright © 2009 The Trustees of Indiana University. Visit research.iu.edu/magazine to read R&CA online.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 Abstracts
26 THE NETWORK FORMATION GAME
Titanic snake, the world in central Indiana, elevator speeches for Obama, weird life at the center of the Earth, awards to explore new frontiers, restoring our nationâ€™s honor
by Lauren J. Bryant
28 A SECOND LIFE, VIRTUALLY SPEAKING
5 empowering people cyberinfrastructure at iu
by Ryan Piurek
by Brad Wheeler
8 Science on Ice
32 WHY IT PLAYS IN PEORIA by Zak Szymanski
by Julie Creek
34 archaeology in the in-between
12 MAPPING THE FUTURE OF KNOWLEDGE
by Lauren J. Bryant
by Steve Kaelble
16 spotting the patterns that information makes
41 untangling the brain by Jeremy Shere
by Greg Ruhland
44 REASSEMBLING THE ELEPHANT
20 analyzing social networks by Tracy James
by Mary Hardin
47 what our genes do
23 CONNECTING THE DOTS FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
by Jeremy Shere
by Karen Garinger
49 STRETCHING THE BOUNDARIES OF ART by Jennifer Piurek
© Jason Head et al.
© Jason Bourque, University of Florida
cientists have recovered fossils from the largest known snake in the world — a 60-million-year-old South American snake whose estimated size dwarfs today’s anacondas and pythons. Named Titanoboa cerrejonensis (“titanic boa from Cerrejón”) by its discoverers, the size of the non-venomous snake’s vertebrae suggests it weighed 1,135 kilograms (2,500 pounds) and measured 13 meters (42.7 feet) from nose to tail tip. A report describing the find appeared in a February 2009 issue of Nature. “At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips,” says paleontologist David Polly, an associate professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. Polly identified the position of the fossil vertebrae, which made a size estimate possible. At its thickest point, the diameter of the snake would probably have been 60-75 centimeters (about 23 to 27 inches), according to Polly. “The size is pretty amazing,” he says. “But our team went a step further and asked, how
warm would the Earth have to be to support a body of this size?” Paleontologists have long known of a rough correlation between a time period’s temperature and the size of its poikilotherms (cold-blooded creatures). Poikilotherms need heat from their environment to keep going. As the Earth’s temperature increases, so does the upper size limit on poikilotherms. “There are many ways the anatomy of a species is correlated with its environment on broad scales,” Polly says. “If we understand these correlations better, we will know more about how climate and climate change affect species, as well as how we can infer things about past climates from the morphology of the species that lived back then.” Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute geologist Carlos Jaramillo and University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch discovered the snake fossils in the Cerrejón Coal Mine in northern Colombia. The Nature report’s lead author, paleontologist Jason Head of the University of TorontoMississauga, used information gleaned by his
collaborators to make an estimate of Earth’s temperature 58 to 60 million years ago in an area encompassed by modern-day Colombia. Head estimated a snake of Titanoboa’s size would have required an average annual temperature of 30 to 34 C (86 to 93 F) to survive. By comparison, the average yearly temperature of Cartagena, a Colombian coastal city, is about 83 F. “Tropical ecosystems of South America were surprisingly different 60 million years ago,” says Bloch. “It was a rainforest, like today, but it was even hotter, and the coldblooded reptiles were all substantially larger. The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen ... and hopefully ever will.” Also contributing to the report were Alexander Hastings, Jason Bourque, Fabiany Herrera, and Edwin Cadena, from the University of Florida. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, Carbones del Cerrejon LLC, the Geological Society of America, and the Florida Museum of Natural History.
New Faces at the Crossroads: The World in Central Indiana
© Jeffrey A. Wolin, Courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
his photo of Philippine immigrant Kristine Verayo Camano is included in a collection of 30 portraits by award-winning photographer Jeffrey Wolin published last year by Indiana University Press. Photographs from the book were also on display when the Indianapolis International Airport opened its new terminal in late 2008. To identify subjects for the portraits, Wolin worked with the International Center of Indianapolis, a nonprofit organization that is also co-publisher of the New Faces book. “I had to give up my Filipino citizenship,” says Camano in the text that accompanies her portrait. “I had really mixed emotions about it, but I’m really glad I made the choice. … Mainly, it’s the right to vote. I’m really excited about that.” Wolin is Ruth N. Halls Professor of photography in the School of Fine Arts at IU Bloomington.
arlier this year, 30 IU faculty were asked to imagine they had the length of an elevator ride to advise President Obama on topics they’ve spent their careers studying. Here are selections from some of those “elevator speeches”:
On energy and environmental protection Reach out to the Asian powers. Make a breakthrough with China and India on the problem of climate change. China and India have the power to neutralize — or, alternatively, reinforce — anything good that comes from America’s efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. Matthew R. Auer, professor of public and environmental affairs and dean of the Hutton Honors College
On health policy Improve public health, not just health care. We now spend four times more on health care than on defense. By 2016, we’ll pay $4.3 trillion — 20 percent of gross domestic product — for health care. We couldn’t pay for health care in 2008; we certainly won’t be able to pay for it in 2016. We urgently need public health and health care reform — combined together — if we are to reduce ever-increasing costs of health care. Lloyd J. Kolbe, associate dean for global and community health and professor of applied health science
On education Recommendations for leaving no child behind: Focus on getting the best candidates with strong academic credentials to pursue a profession in teaching. Promote a seamless P-16 system, beginning with your Zero to Five Plan and ending with high school graduation requirements aligned with college admission standards. Ensure all states uniformly calculate their graduation rates using a cohort methodology. Assist states in providing substantial technical assistance to turn around low-performing schools. Encourage use of an entrepreneurial business model to keep what works in public education, and reform what isn’t working. Support reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act with modifications to the testing and accountability provisions to deemphasize minimum competency. Renew an emphasis on applied knowledge and creativity. Jonathan Plucker, director of the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy at the IU School of Education, and Terry Spradlin, associate director for education policy at CEEP
On the arts Let your daughters dance. Through the outreach programs of many ballet companies, we know that schoolchildren of all economic levels are captivated, entertained, and educated through our process of training the body to become strong and flexible. I ask you to, first, send your two adorable girls to ballet class. It will send such a powerful message to children all over the world. And, second, please invite the great American ballet stars of today to perform at the White House, just like John F. Kennedy did. Thanks to his invitations, the names of those dancers became part of the list of great American artistes and thus part of the subconscious of the American people. Michael Vernon, chair of the Department of Ballet and a professor at the Jacobs School of Music
On cybersecurity Restore protection for individual privacy. Personal privacy has been significantly eroded in the name of national security. One important first step would be to take up the National Academy of Sciences’ recommendations for a framework of legal requirements to ensure that surveillance programs are effective and legal. Fred Cate, Distinguished Professor, C. Ben Dutton Professor of law at the IU Maurer School of Law — Bloomington, and director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research
On taxes Look to make fundamental changes in the tax system. The administration should be prepared to introduce bold and ambitious new proposals, including the adoption of a progressive consumption tax to supplement income tax revenues. Restructure our tax system to make it simpler, fairer, and more effective in raising revenue.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less … —Meditation XVII, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne
n his meditations, John Donne must have realized humans are not unique in their connectedness. He compared our inseparability to the bedrock of continents, human societies to the “clods” of dirt that are the substance of Europe. In a world where everything seems networked, from rocks to brains, surely the truly independent entity is an oddity. The newly named bacterium Desulforudis audaxvia- D. audaxviator tor does not disappoint. Micrograph by Greg For years, Indiana Wanger, J. Craig Venter Institute, and Gordon University Bloomington Southam, University of biogeochemist Lisa Pratt Western Ontario, used with permission and Princeton University geoscientist Tullis Onstott have descended into mines in Gauteng, South Africa, and northwestern Canada, coring rock under dangerous conditions, in search of weird life. In 2006, Pratt and Onstott, along with colleagues from seven other institutions, confirmed the presence of a naturally occurring bacterium that insinuates itself into the cracks of solid rock 1.7 miles below the Earth’s surface. These cracks are routinely visited by — if not permanently awash in — near-scalding water. (“If a clod be washed away,” indeed!) What the scientists didn’t know was what else, exactly, was in their samples. So Pratt and Onstott, who are long-time collaborators, brought in an environmental genomics expert, Dylan Chivian of the LawrenceBerkeley National Laboratory, to characterize the DNA in their water samples. Improvements in DNA sequencing technology make it possible for scientists to piece together the genomes of multiple organisms from a mystery sample. In late 2008, the scientists reported that their samples contained at least 99.9 percent DNA from a single organism, which they named D. audaxviator. Chivian chose an inspired species name. In Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, the unlucky explorer Arne Saknussemm implores still-living spe-
Ajay Mehrotra, associate professor at the IU Maurer School of Law — Bloomington continued, page 4
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Elevator speeches for Obama
Living on radioactivity at the center of the Earth
continued from page 3
lunkers to “descende, Audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges” or, “descend, bold traveler, and you will attain the center of the Earth.” Perhaps transformation into the world’s most bizarre bacterium was Saknussemm’s fate. As inner-Earth explorers Pratt and Onstott have learned, D. audaxviator is the only organism on Earth known to depend on radioactivity to live. That’s not quite as scary as it sounds. The bacterium doesn’t eat radiation, but rather a byproduct of it. Sulfurcontaining molecules in the bacterium’s environment become food after absorbing high-energy radiation from surrounding rocks. The bacteria eat radiogenic molecules and siphon the energy into cellular processes. The bacterium’s habitat — deep underground — effectively expanded our planet’s “biosphere,” the thickening shell of space in which Earth’s organisms live. If a radioactivity-eating organism isn’t weird enough, Dylan Chivian’s detailed analysis of D. audaxviator’s genome points to something weirder: the bacterium lives alone because it absorbed parts of its companions. The bacterium possesses genetic material not associated with its lineage, including genes that are especially good at procuring carbon and fixing nitrogen. It appears likely D. audaxviator avoided interspecies collaboration by stealing its competitors’ best DNA and edging them into obsolescence. John Donne may have been right — no man is an island — but he never said anything about subterranean bacteria. — David Bricker media specialist, university communications
Awards for New Frontiers
wenty-eight faculty from various Indiana University campuses have received awards in the latest round of IU’s New Frontiers in Arts and Humanities grants. This is the fifth and final year for the original New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, which was funded by the Lilly Endowment for five years with $5 million. IU will continue to support the program after this year, with administrative oversight and organization provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. As the program enters its fifth year, the impact of New Frontiers funding is evident, according to Geoff Conrad, associate vice provost for the arts, who coordinates the program. “Awards have been made to faculty members on all eight campuses of IU,” Conrad says. “Through the end of Janaury 2009, we’ve received 658 applications and made 369 awards.” As a result of New Frontiers funding in the first years of the program, Conrad says that grant recipients have already “published nine books and monographs, with 32 more in press or nearing completion; given 127 conference presentations; and contributed to 44 art exhibitions and 37 performances. They also have 67 journal articles published or nearing completion, along with a variety of critical editions, special issues of journals, new works of art, musical compositions, novels, short stories, poems, films, and videos.” Brigitte Le Normand, a professor of history at IU Southeast, will use her 2009 New Frontiers grant to explore the impact of labor migration on Yugoslav society and culture. During the 1960s and 1970s, a significant proportion of Yugoslavia’s labor force worked abroad, saving most of their income to spend on goods at home. “How did a socialist society deal with a population that challenged its very premises by earning high salaries in capitalist countries and then returning home to flaunt their conspicuous consumption?” Le Normand asks. “This project offers a unique opportunity for examining the meeting of capitalist and socialist practices and values.” The New Frontiers program offers four types of grants to support independent work, conferences, visiting scholars, and travel. Other topics to be explored with 2009 New Frontiers funding include Divine Healing and Deliverance in America, 1860-2010. Candy Gunther Brown, associate professor of religious studies at IU Bloomington, is completing a book manuscript that explores why, despite advances in biomedical science, there continues to be growing U.S. interest in miraculous healing and deliverance practices. Mothers’ L.A.N.D. — History, Heroines, Housewives and Homeland. This exhibition by Matthew Groshek, assistant professor and public scholar of civic engagement, exhibition planning, and design at IUPUI, will provide an opportunity for visitors to learn the grass-roots story of the League Against Nuclear Dangers, a social resistance organization formed by citizens in 1973 to oppose the construction of a nuclear generating facility in central Wisconsin. Requiem for the Innocent. Jorge Muñiz, assistant professor of music at IU South Bend, is creating a work of remembrance for victims of terrorism featuring a baritone soloist, representing the souls of the victims; three vocal groups, representing major spiritual traditions; and a full orchestra. ReActions: Visualizing Climate Change. Betsy Stirratt, director of the School of Fine Arts Gallery at IU Bloomington, will bring two visual artists to the campus to investigate climate change and environmental awareness through seminars and exhibitions. The Writer in the World: The Personal and the Political. Samrat Upadhyay, director of the IU Bloomington Creative Writing Program, will organize a series of lectures and workshops by visiting American writers who will address the general theme of how the personal landscape of literature relates to the larger landscape of social and political issues. The next deadline for New Frontiers grant proposals occurs in October. For information about the program and the application process, see www.research.iu.edu/funding/newfron/index.html.
Dawn Johnsen, nominated to
head the Office of Legal Counsel,
a branch of the Department of Justice considered “the president’s law firm,” is a professor at the Maurer School of Law-Bloomington and has been a frequent contributor to Slate.com
“How do we restore our nation’s honor, as well as our own? … Here is a partial answer … , directed especially to the next president and members of his administration … : We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world. … Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.” Dawn Johnsen, “Convictions” Blog at Slate.com, posted March 18, 2008
s many national reports propose paths to create advanced cyberinfrastructure for communities of research, at Indiana University, cyberinfrastructure begins at home. Researchers in the sciences, medicine, arts, and humanities already apply the university’s cyberinfrastructure to advance their scholarly and creative contributions to knowledge and understanding. The university’s 1998 strategic plan for information technology (IT), Architecture for the 21st Century, foresaw the economic necessity of research cyberinfrastructure (CI) before the term captured the national stage. A decade of focused investment — with the support of the Lilly Endowment; the State of Indiana; the NSF, NIH, DOE, and other federal agencies; and a host of corporate supporters including IBM — has placed IU at the forefront in providing the essential tools of cyberinfrastructure to all IU scholars and artists. Systems such as IU’s Big Red supercomputer or Quarry cluster provide advanced computation alongside massive storage systems like the Data Capacitor or tape robots. Today, IU is building on the last 10 years with the 2009 strategic plan for IT, Empowering People. This plan outlines a new strategic vision for a more productive collaboration between people and technology. Much research today focuses on applying IT to advance human knowledge and improve the quality of life. Empowering People provides a plan for strengthening connections between people and technology and for easing connections among collaborators, across institutions, disciplines, and geographical boundaries. IT can bring people into closer contact with content from a variety of sources, including the digitization of distant, rare, and formerly unseen materials. New methods of digital curation are helping preserve content that is fragile and disintegrating. New models for scholarly publishing are opening access to academic material.
New tools for communication and collaboration are dissolving barriers of time and place. New multimedia and search capabilities are making it possible to preserve film, audio, and print materials for scholars to search using natural-language queries. CI investments are an essential foundation for improving Hoosier healthcare services and education. It offers an opportunity for advancing electronic health records, telemedicine services to underserved communities, and education of students in the health sciences. While cyberinfrastructure is still a new term, CI means more than just IT. IU defines CI as “computing systems, data storage systems, advanced instruments and data repositories, visualization environments, and people, all linked together by software and high performance networks to improve research productivity and enable breakthroughs not otherwise possible.” As I’ve written with others elsewhere, CI also involves “creating a culture of collaboration, both within and across disciplines.” Collaboration is about people. And people are at the center of a new chapter in research and creative activity at IU. Today the work enabled by IU’s CI puts the university and its people squarely on the map of major innovations across the disciplines. Examples abound. Locally, IT-enabled advances in the life sciences have opened new channels for economic development in Indiana. IU’s cyberinfrastructure helps attract leading scientists to the state, making Indiana a magnet for like-minded scholars and researchers. Hastening the pace of research can speed the understanding of disease and cures. For example, IU’s CI enables research into cell metabolism that adds to the understanding of diabetes. The technologies that IU scientists develop in their labs can lead to new marketable devices. The IU Research and Technology Corporation recently granted an Indianapolis company the option to
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by Brad Wheeler
Photo courtesy of Indiana University
Cyberinfrastructure at IU
Images courtesy of Office of Vice President for Information Technology
The Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Hub, developed by IU and Purdue University, creates a collaborative virtual community and provides shared resources to support translational medical research across the state of Indiana. Translational medicine strives to convert work done by medical researchers into practical and applied treatments used by doctors and hospitals.
license an ambient mass spectrometry device that will sharpen scientific, medical, and forensic analysis. Successful technology creation and transfer within Indiana creates jobs and helps grow the state’s economy. IU’s CI is a partner in scientists’ efforts to better understand the natural world. In South Carolina, researchers are using software developed by IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) to study the state’s changing coastal environment. In Greenland, IU’s Polar Grid, developed by the PTI Digital Science Center, is a powerful ally in understanding climate change and its effect on the world’s polar ice caps (see Science on Ice, page 8). Using IU’s Big Red supercomputer and Data Capacitor, environmental scientists collaborate to create and manage the abundant digital resources that fuel their research. As a partner in the national TeraGrid, a massive NSF-supported open infrastructure for scientific discovery, IU makes its CI available to scientists nationally. As part of a federal grant, IU provides computation and storage for research collaborations and develops complexity-hiding tools to open the TeraGrid to easier use by many researchers. The newly established Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University focuses on research that extends what information technology can do not only in advanced research, but also in improving human life. Supported by a recent award from the Lilly Endowment, the PTI conducts IT research at
the edge, creating new inventions, devices, and software that can help accelerate economic growth in Indiana by commercializing inventions and software, and via collaborations with industry partners. In offering students hand-on opportunities to learn, it helps prepare a 21st-century workforce in Indiana. Many activities related to the PTI are reflected in this issue. The following paragraphs highlight some especially timely projects. Environmental challenges — hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe weather — grab headlines, claim lives, and damage land and property. Timely, accurate weather prediction is a national priority. PTI researchers from the Data to Insight Center are increasing human understanding of weather phenomena with the Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD). Developed with NSF support, LEAD equips meteorologists and weather researchers with essential weather monitoring, prediction, and visualization tools in a central, user-friendly web environment. Using LEAD, weather researchers harness highly advanced software and powerful supercomputers, without having to learn techniques in high performance computing. Such “gateway” or “portal” technologies developed at PTI free scientists to do what they do best — focus on the research. The PTI is also a participant in the Indiana Life Sciences Initiative, one of the growing strengths of the Indiana economy. The PTI’s Life Sciences group is developing a portal
[ l e f t ] The ETHOS project, led by the PTI Center for Applied Cybersecurity, helps seniors stay in touch with family and caregivers through the development of easy-to-use technologies placed in the home. Seniors test and provide feedback on the devices at the Living Lab, a simulated senior home environment located on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus.
that will be an asset in medical and life science research, for Hoosiers, and for the nation. The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Hub (CTSI Hub), a collaborative effort between IU and Purdue supported by the National Institutes of Health, provides centralized, easy-to-use online resources for statewide medical research and translational medicine. Translational medicine focuses on translating life science and clinical research into practical treatments doctors and hospitals can put to use. Through the Hub, users can conduct integrated searches of distributed data resources and find information on a range of resources, including laboratory tools and facilities, online medical simulation tools, online educational programs and materials, technology transfer information, public health resources, and funding opportunities. Users become part of a virtual community, sharing resources as they work together toward common health goals. The CTSI Hub and connectivity via the Indiana I-Light high-speed network bring together medical researchers, industry partners, practitioners, and the public, dissolving boundaries of distance. As Baby Boomers age, compassionate senior care is becoming a persistent challenge. The PTI Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR) and the IU School of Informatics are developing ways to make senior care more personal and individualized. IU researchers working on the ETHOS (Ethical Technology in the Homes of Seniors) project are developing
Brad Wheeler is the vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Indiana University.
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[ a b o v e ] The Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) portal, developed by the IU Pervasive Technology Institute’s Data to Insight Center, allows meteorologists to access and easily use highly advanced weather modeling and prediction technology, such as the visualization tool shown here modeling Hurricane Katrina. Weather researchers are using these technologies to predict and model storms to protect lives and minimize property damage from severe weather.
practical and pervasive technologies that help seniors stay safe and secure in their homes, while providing peace of mind for family members and caregivers. ETHOS devices connect seniors and loved ones, while allowing seniors to maintain their privacy and autonomy. In the center’s “Living Lab,” a simulated senior home environment, CACR researchers develop and test technologies such as the Portal Monitor, which monitors the exterior doors of a senior’s home. Unless the resident disarms the device, the Portal Monitor takes a digital photograph when someone enters or leaves the residence. The system sends a photograph and a message to the computer or mobile phone of the caregiver, who can then assess the safety of the senior. The device has applications for those with dementia, who may put themselves in jeopardy by wandering away, and it can alert others to unwanted visitors who may intend to abuse or take advantage of seniors. Another ETHOS device, the Presence Clock, connects a senior with family members through network-enabled clocks. The Presence Clock looks like an ordinary clock, but its special sensors monitor motion and activity in the vicinity of the clock and digitally transmit the information to a second device in the caregiver’s home. This unobtrusive monitoring lets a family member know when the senior gets up and begins moving around. The senior can also see similar information about the family member. The clock provides an unobtrusive two-way connection that can enhance a feeling of security without compromising privacy. In the Living Lab, seniors are invited to provide feedback on the Presence Clock and similar technologies that provide human connections and establish networks of safety. Technology employs networks and creates networks — of people, of ideas, of shared resources, and of common vision and purpose. While much of the nation moves forward building cyberinfrastructure, IU sets itself apart with a comprehensive, shared CI that serves all IU — all campuses and all disciplines. IU delivers resources that are unique nationally, such as our geographically distributed, HIPPA-compliant massive data-storage system that serves members of the IU community, ranging from IU School of Medicine researchers to students in Interior Design at IU Bloomington. The cost savings of managing shared CI allow investments in greater system capabilities and user support. Focused deployment of a shared CI at home leverages Indiana University’s investments in systems that empower the intellectual and creative work of scholars, researchers, artists, and scientists, and their partners in collaborations that serve human ends.
Science on ice by Julie Creek
he great Norse explorer Erik the Red intuitively understood the value of shrewd marketing. To draw settlers to the vast windblown mound of ice he found in the far northern Atlantic Ocean around 1000 BCE, he decided to call it Greenland because he believed, as one Norse historian wrote, that “people would be eager to go there if it had a good name.” It doesn’t take long for even the most casual visitor to realize that the name “Greenland” is a misnomer on a grand scale. Only the southern coastal areas of the world’s largest island are habitable, allowing the 56,000 residents to support themselves with fishing and tourism. More than 95 percent of the island is covered by ice caps that are desolately beautiful— no trees, no vegetation — just ice and sky. Greenland’s interior is even inhospitable to polar bears, penguins, and other arctic creatures
that need access to open water to fish. Ice scientists must trek to this frozen empty place to work on unraveling the mysteries of the world’s polar ice caps. And in the last several years, the work of ice scientists has taken on an urgency that has led scientists in other disciplines to search for ways to help them. The urgency is this: The massive ice sheets in western Antarctica and southern Greenland, which have been melting over the past 10 years, are deteriorating more rapidly than previously thought. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey released in December 2008 estimates that the ice sheets are losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year — equivalent to twice the amount of ice that exists in the Alps. And nobody understands exactly why.
Until recently, polar science — the study of ice sheets and their complex interrelationship with the larger environment — was a scientific backwater that attracted little outside attention. Polar scientists work in some of the most isolated and extreme places the planet has to offer, making it difficult to gather and process the kind of massive data that allow earthquake scientists, for example, to model and predict seismic activity. The prospect of rising sea levels and the potentially catastrophic consequences has changed the profile of polar science. Now, polar science is front and center in the international scientific community’s efforts to understand climate change. Still, polar scientists don’t have the banks of research data that might allow them to interpret recent changes, predict future
Reading GLACIERS in real time When scientists look at glaciers, they don’t just see ice. The ice — which is often more than three kilometers thick — rests on a foundation of bedrock, and scientists believe the interaction between the ice and the bedrock is the key to understanding the behavior of ice sheets. The bedrock is riven by deep channels — the movement and melting potential of glaciers is measured by the movement of ice within those channels. Because the bedrock and its channels aren’t visible under all that ice, ice scientists use radar technology originally developed at the University of Kansas to map glacier flow. Some of the radar sensors are pulled slowly over the surface of the glacier behind small snow tractors. Other radar sensors are flown over the glacier in twin-engine planes. Scientists also place remote sensors at specific spots on the glacier to take longer range temperature readings. The difficulty of gathering large amounts of data in a hostile climate has always been the sticking point for polar scientists. Because of harsh conditions, they’ve never been able to look at their data in “real time” or have the opportunity
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Photo by Matt Link
behavior, and help colleagues in other fields figure out what role ice sheets play in climate change. But in January 2007, Geoffrey Fox met Linda Hayden and the Polar Grid project began to take shape. Two years later, Polar Grid is helping polar scientists use radar mapping to collect and analyze large quantities of data while the researchers are actually on the ice. The project also links scientists, students, and universities in a burgeoning network of informationsharing that is vital in helping scientists grapple with climate change. “The whole field of ice science is not sophisticated in the way that earthquake science is,” Fox says. “Earthquakes have been thoroughly studied, while the glaciers have been chugging away. We decided to look at developing the data-gathering ability to study them thoroughly.” Fox, director of the Community Grids Lab within Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute and an IU professor of computer science and informatics, has long been interested in harnessing the data-gathering and data-crunching capacities of computers to solve practical scientific problems. He is also deeply committed to using cyberinfrastructure to link larger research universities such as IU to smaller schools, especially those serving minority students, to share information and computing power. Hayden, whose background is in mathematics and computer science, is the founder and director of the Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research at tiny Elizabeth City State University, a historically black college in North Carolina. She was drawn to polar science after meeting ice scientist Prasad Gogineni, who directs the Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas.
to flag unusual data and re-measure or re-run a test without a delay. The time lag has made it extremely difficult to assemble enough data quickly enough to draw a detailed picture of what is happening to ice sheets, Hayden says. Ice scientists needed a data collection system that would compile and analyze the data right there on the ice sheets. Fox and Hayden came up with a plan. IU scientists and technicians would design and build a computer grid that included laptops for use in the field linked to a cluster of computers at a base camp. The cluster would collect about a terabyte of data every day, provide instant data to field scientists, and transmit the data by satellite feed back to large-scale computer clusters at ECSU and IU, where it would be analyzed more thoroughly. The project would create a temporary computer grid spanning from the North to the South poles. Through IU’s participation in the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid supercomputer network, the data contained in the clusters would be easily accessible to any interested scientists. The NSF was impressed with the plan and gave the Polar Grid team a $1.96 million grant to build and deploy the system.
Successful science The system was designed to use small amounts of battery power, while the satellite relay system was designed to transmit large amounts of data from a remote area with little available bandwidth. Data storage had to be redundant, including multiple backups designed to prevent data loss. The task of deploying the equipment fell to Matt Link and the team of technicians he directs in the Research Technologies division of University Information Technology Services at IU. Harsh climate gave the team several practical problems to overcome. Link worked with manufacturers to develop cases that would protect the equipment through a long trip and withstand extreme cold, wind, and snow after it arrived. Link and team also tried to anticipate potential malfunctions and send along replacement parts so repairs could be made on the ice sheets. In June 2008, a team of students and researchers from ECSU and the University of Kansas set out for Greenland, where they flew their equipment to the team’s base camp near Ilulissat in the south. The Greenland expedition was designed
Cyber-power to the people Although he’s excited at the prospect of putting polar science on par with other earth sciences, Fox is more excited about what he sees as the larger purpose of Polar Grid: how computers can be made to serve people, especially students and scientists. The cyber-infrastructure link between IU and ECSU gives Hayden and her students access to the research and computing muscle of a major university, helping the school leap forward toward cutting-edge ice science research. Polar Grid also illustrates what Fox calls the “democratizing” power of cyberinfrastructure to give universities, communities, governments, and others the capacity to network and share information quickly and easily. Recently, Fox helped the Navaho Nation in Arizona use cyberinfrastructure to link remote pueblos, bringing them into a larger community. “I spent much of my time building the collaborative part,” Fox says. “Cyberinfrastructure is interesting because of its intrinsically democratic nature. It allows smaller, minorityserving institutions to become more deeply involved in the field.” Fox also believes that Polar Grid technology has important
Photo courtesy of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets
Photos courtesy of Indiana University
to gather radar data using twice-daily plane flights and to work out any kinks in the Polar Grid system’s support of the ongoing work of ice-sheet scientists. By early July, the research team ran into what would turn out to be the mission’s only significant problem — processing “first-look” data from the computer cluster installed at the base camp. A process that should have taken a few hours was taking 24 to 26 hours. More memory needed to be installed, requiring Link and IU team member Rich Knepper to travel to the base camp with just two-days notice. They took an exhausting 24hour commercial flight to Greenland via Copenhagen, arriving at the base camp after another commercial flight across the ice carrying a storage case filled with computer parts. Link and Knepper spent the next 20 hours in the team’s hangar-like base camp expanding the memory of the data-gathering software. Their mission accomplished, they set off again, retracing the route back to Bloomington. The Greenland expedition was doubly successful, demonstrating the pioneering prowess of the Polar Grid equipment and yielding data that is changing the way ice scientists understand the rate of global warning. Members of the IU team returned to help the University of Kansas team compile and interpret radar data from the mission. In September, Link and his team dispatched the Polar Grid equipment on the first step of its long journey to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where it was deployed to a research station on the Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica. It was used to compile and analyze data in real time for the next research phase of the ongoing Polar Grid project, which concluded in February 2009.
Photo courtesy of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets
applications far beyond the ice sheets. The system, designed to operate in harsh climates, uses little electricity, and its satellite communication system can transmit large amounts of data from areas where the bandwidth is small. Those qualities make the technology useful in other unforgiving climates. “I’ve had conversations with people from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” Fox says. “Obviously, they have a need for this type of equipment. Its useful qualities aren’t specific to polar-based environments.” The Polar Grid project illustrates two larger phenomena taking place in science, says Craig Stewart, associate dean and associate vice president of research technologies at IU and chief operating officer of IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute. First, Stewart says, Fox and colleagues are revolutionizing science by taking the lead in helping scientists harness the data-storage and analytical power of technology to solve practical scientific problems. Projects involving the application of cyberinfrastructure to scientific problems are in process all over the IU system, Stewart says, especially in the burgeoning field of genomics. Second, as science has moved into the digital era, IU is modeling a system in which cyberscientists design and build computer applications their counterparts in the physical and social sciences need to do their work. “For a long time, if you wanted to use a supercomputer to
solve a problem, you had to spend a year becoming a computer scientist and figure out how to make it work,” Stewart says. “We’re building an interface that takes away that need to be a computer scientist.” Stewart believes that having collaborative power at their fingertips can be a powerful tool for bringing research scientists to IU in the future. That’s true for faculty in social sciences and humanities as well, Stewart says, or for any researcher who needs to collect and analyze large amounts of data. ECSU’s Hayden has been gratified to see Polar Grid bring different universities and scientists from different disciplines together in search of answers to a critical problem. She believes that scientists are moving rapidly toward a deeper understanding of the urgent mysteries of the world’s ice sheet systems, giving them a far better shot at slowing the global warming crisis before it becomes a catastrophe. “In the past, scientists would have had to bring all their stuff back, and then figure out they didn’t have what they needed,” she says. “I can’t begin to tell you how important and basic it is for scientists to understand what they have while they’re in the field.” Julie Creek is a freelance writer and interim coordinator of the Center for Women and Returning Adults at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.
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The Polar Grid project, a partnership between Indiana University and Elizabeth City State University, is deploying urgently needed computing infrastructure to remote locations such as this field site in Antarctica. These information technology resources are enabling ice scientists to analyze and evaluate real-time data on changes in polar ice.
Mapping the Future of Knowledge by Steve Kaelble If knowledge is power, the human race must be on the verge of blowing a fuse. Every day, thousands upon thousands of pages of research are thrown into the hopper of collective knowledge. Immeasurable stores of medical data are created, and air traffic data and phone call data and financial data and countless other types of information. Sure, the vastness of what we don’t know is astonishing—but so is the immensity of what we do know. How can we possibly make sense of all this knowledge?
[ l e f t ] This visualization explores the activity of science, math, and technology related artcles in the English-language Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). The central image shows 659,388 articles (circles). Overlaid is a 37 x 37 grid of relevant half-inch sized images. Blue, green, and yellow circles represent the 3,599 math-, 6,474 science-, and 3,164 technology-related articles respectively.
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hese are the kinds of questions that fuel the work of Katy Börner, the Victor H. Yngve associate professor of information science at Indiana University Bloomington. Börner and her research team are involved in a wide array of pursuits related to networks of knowledge and information—in essence, using science to learn more about science itself. Börner is founding director of IU’s Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, and she directs the Information Visualization Laboratory at the IU School of Library and Information Science. She’s also adjunct associate professor in informatics, a faculty member in cognitive science, and a research affiliate with IU’s Biocomplexity Institute and Complex Systems Group. Network science — the core of Börner’s work — is about gaining an understanding of both human and natural networks. These are networks in the very broadest sense of the word, from computer networks to social networks to ecological networks. Network science is about developing algorithms and exploring common principles that dictate how such networks function and how function affects the structure of these networks. By definition, it’s a highly interdisciplinary pursuit, which is one reason Börner loves working on the IU Bloomington campus. “I’m very impressed by the diversity and quality of the network science researchers at IUB. We have more than 25 faculty members in more than 10 departments who are engaged in network science research and education,” she says. “This makes Indiana University a unique place.” The field attracts the interest of physicists, psychologists, medical researchers, economists, library science experts, bioinformatics specialists, and computer scientists of all stripes, to name a few.
Map #165, Mapping Science exhibit, http://scimaps.org
Indiana University 14
Making knowledge maps When it comes to getting a handle on the world’s ever-exploding body of knowledge, it helps to have a map, and Börner is a widely recognized expert in what’s known as “mapping knowledge domains”—creating graphical depictions of the networks of scientific knowledge, or as she puts it, “mapping the structure and dynamics of science.” Why is this important? An explanation can be found in a chapter on “Visualizing Knowledge Domains” that Börner co-wrote in 2003. Sorting through mountains of scientific literature is “time-consuming, difficult to repeat, and subjective. The task is enormous in its complexity,” wrote Börner and her co-authors. “Sifting through recently published documents to find ones that will later be recognized as important is laborintensive.” Using the latest technologies and newest theoretical approaches, Börner and her colleagues take a “big picture” approach to visualizing knowledge, aiming to make the task of research more efficient and effective. “This field is aimed at easing information access, making evident the structure of knowledge, and allowing seekers of knowledge to succeed in their endeavors,” she and Richard Shiffrin wrote a few years ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Shiffrin is Luther Dana Waterman Professor of psychological and brain sciences at IU Bloomington.) At the center of Börner’s inquiries is the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center. Housed within the School of Library and Information Science, the center has eight rooms in the Wells Library, occupied by six staff members plus many graduate students and visiting faculty. It is abuzz with network science activity, from studies of Wikipedia to creation of a huge scholarly database to development of navigational tools for scientists. IU created the center in 2005, Börner says, because “there is a large pool of network science research which needed a home, and there was a need to have a shared infrastructure.” One prominent product of the center’s efforts is the Network Workbench, a project led by Börner (working with colleauges Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Santiago Schnell, Alessandro Vespignani, Stanley Wasserman, Eric Wernert, and system architect Micah Linnemeier) that is funded by the National Science Foundation. (Börner is a frequent recipient of NSF funding, as well support from the National Institutes of Health and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.) The NWB is a computing environment that enables large-scale network analysis, modeling, and visualization that advances the work of researchers in fields such as biomedicine, physics, and the social sciences. “It’s a very easy-to-use tool for different areas of network science,” says Börner. Users can download the NWB and use it to access a variety of major network datasets or upload networks of their own for examination. It allows researchers access to more than 100 validated algorithms for network analysis, modeling and visualization, which speed the study of unwieldy sets of data.
What can one accomplish using the Network Workbench and other tools of network science? Consider the field of epidemiology. There’s been a lot of talk about avian flu, and what might happen should this potentially devastating bug find an efficient way to infect humans. If that happens, it will be critically important to figure out where the flu is most likely to spread, so that resources to fight it can be properly directed. Network science allows epidemiologists to dig into the huge databases that track air travel, crunch the data with global census information and existing disease patterns, and generate sophisticated models of what might happen, when and where. That’s the concept behind EpiC, short for Epidemics Cyberinfrastructure, a project co-led by Börner, Steven J. Sherman in IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Alessandro Vespignani, of IU’s School of Informatics. Started in 2007 with $1.2 million in National Institutes of Health funding, the project’s goal is to make it easy for the world’s epidemiologists to share and reuse datasets and algorithms relating to epidemics. (For more on EpiC, see story Page 16). Börner and former Ph.D. student Ketan Mane have also employed network science to examine a large dataset of leukemia patients. Their question was, why do some patients do well following chemotherapy while others don’t? Sophisticated analysis of the data uncovered patterns in the levels of followup the patients received, and the ways that family backgrounds and activities related to the attention given to matters such as medication regimes. This kind of knowledge, Börner says, “has an impact on how you educate patients and monitor them. Visualizations of complex data can have an affect on whether parents return from the hospital with their child or without.” Jesus, Hitler, and Britney Spears Börner has been at the forefront of a massive computational social science project focusing on the knowledge contained in the online resource Wikipedia. IU visualization expert Bruce W. Herr II, data-mining guru Todd Holloway, graphic designer Elisha F. Hardy, and others loaded huge dumps of Wikipedia content into their network science tools, tracked how the articles linked to one another, and gauged which topics generate the most interest in terms of the frequency of updates. The result: a complex mosaic of Wikipedia images, arranged by their linkages, with dots indicating the hottest topics. According to studies by Börner and her colleagues, the most actively updated topics were Jesus and Adolf Hitler. A poster the researchers created includes comments such as these remarks from New York visual artist Daniel Zeller: “The mosaic stunningly illustrates the broad spectrum of what I would call the diffuse focus of the masses. Its value is in its all-encompassing overview, and that it allows one to explore and compare this focus. … My faith in humankind would be restored to someday see that Albert Einstein and Muhammad generated more interest than Britney Spears.” This kind of graphical representation of knowledge is the
and be inspired by one another’s work, Börner says. “We aim to give our clients—governments, researchers, companies— a fishing rod rather than a fish. Ideally, the tools, tutorials, and hands-on expertise we provide empower them to make sense of their ever increasing mounts of data.” Network science promises to have an impact on how diseases and wars are fought, how governments deal with economic calamities and other massive problems, how humans relate to one another on a global scale. These are issues for which the knowledge and solutions may already exist, but buried in a mountain of knowledge, information, and data. “No human being can process all that,” Börner observes. The ultimate aim, she says, is: “How do we create better tools to make sense of what we already know?” Steve Kaelble is a freelance writer and publication manager at Community Health Network in Indianapolis.
Börner Home Page, Center, Lab http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~katy/ http://cns.slis.indiana.edu/ http://iv.slis.indiana.edu/ Cyberinfrastructure Design http://cishell.org/ http://ivl.slis.indiana.edu/ http://nwb.slis.indiana.edu/ http://epic.slis.indiana.edu/ Mapping Science Exhibit http://scimaps.org/ http://scimaps.org/maps/wikipedia/ Talk Series on Networks and Complex Systems
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Teach a person to fish, and … With the right kinds of network science tools in hand, huge stores of information no longer seem so daunting. So Börner’s Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center set out to establish its own clearinghouse of scholarly knowledge. The Scholarly Database (SDB) project, led by Senior Systems Analyst Nianli Ma, amasses more than 18 million publications, patents, and grants, many of which include full text, making it unique in size and scope. The tools of network science allow efficient search and perusal of the SDB in ways that visualize connections emerging across different disciplines. The center also adds to the knowledge and understanding of network science through its talk series that takes place every Monday evening at the Wells Library. All faculty and students with an interest in network analysis, modeling, visualization, and complex systems research are invited. Organized by Börner since 2004, the series features IU researchers as well as experts from other institutions, such as Purdue University horticulture and landscape architecture professor David Salt who discussed how network science aids in “mapping connections between the genome, ionome [all the minerals and trace elements in an organism], and the physical landscape.” An expert from Budapest, George Kampis, recently discussed the analysis of complex ecological networks, such as food webs and RNA structures. The work of Börner and her network science colleagues at IU and elsewhere is diverse and complex. Because it touches so many disciplines, it promises to have implications too broad to predict. It’s all about creating a scholarly marketplace where researchers can effectively interact, share expertise and tools,
Photo courtesy of Indiana University
focus of the Information Visualization Laboratory (IVL) within the School of Library and Information Science. The IVL is a network in and of itself, comprising researchers and students and specialists in everything from graphic design to computer programming to database administration. Among its contributions is the Information Visualization Cyberinfrastructure (IVC), a project initially supported in part through Börner’s fellowship from IU’s Pervasive Technologies Laboratory (now the Pervasive Technologies Institute). IVC is a Web resource that offers a comprehensive set of software packages related to data mining and information visualization. The project bundles software into learning modules and offers access to computing resources and a large repository of data. Börner’s team has also developed the Cyberinfrastructure Shell, described on its Web site as “an open source, community-driven platform for the integration and utilization of datasets, algorithms, tools, and computing resources.” CIShell extends the Open Services Gateway Initiative industry standard and is at the core of NWB, EpiC, and IVC. Börner says CIShell “enables non-computer scientists to plug-and-play datasets and algorithms as easily as we share images and videos using Flickr and YouTube.”
The Internet Solar System This image was created using an algorithm that provides a solar system-like vision of the Internet. At the center is the most inner core of the network with the most relevant Internet Service Providers. The image progresses from the central ISPs to those located on the periphery of the network. The size of each node is proportional to the number of its connections. Analysis and image generated with the Lanet-Vi software package available at http://xavier.informatics.indiana.edu/lanet-vi/; image courtesy of Alex Vespignani.
Spotting the patterns that information makes
rom cells to cell phones, complex networks are just about everywhere in our world. What these complex networks have in common is a particular pattern in which natural or manufactured structures interact. These networks are “complex” because the information within the network is not random, but systematic. It may hardly seem so to the average person, however. Enter Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Vespignani, experts in complex information networks who are anything but average. Menczer and Vespignani thrive on the challenge of identifying and analyzing patterns amid seemingly chaotic data. Both men are on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Informatics. They often collaborate and have been lauded for their individual achievements in the area of information-based networks. The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health recently green-lighted proposals by Menczer and Vespignani, giving large sums of support. Here’s a look at their research on how complex networks work. You Are Here Relaxed in his Bloomington campus office, Filippo Menczer thinks back. “What first excited me academically was artificial intelligence, building intelligent machines,” he says. Menczer began his studies in physics, earning a 1991 Laurea from the University of Rome before moving into computer science at the University of California, San Diego. There he eventually earned a Ph.D. in computer science and cognitive science. A former Fulbright and NATO fellow, Menczer joined Indiana University in 2003, after a stint at the University of Iowa.
Today, as an associate professor of informatics and computer science, Menczer’s research interests focus on social Web applications, the mining of complex information networks, and other complex systems. “Complex” is the right word for Menczer’s research program. At any one time, he may be working on up to eight projects. He is affiliated with IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) and runs the Networks and Agents Network (NaN), a research group of graduate students and colleagues that focuses on topics such as social peer networks, semantic networks, behavioral network and traffic analysis, or vulnerabilities in networks exploited for phishing and spam. Menczer’s latest project, funded by the National Science Foundation, involves something called semantic annotation networks, through which Menczer and his NaN workgroup are building greater understanding of the World Wide Web. Menczer hopes this project can make the Web increasingly manageable and useful. “A computer scientist may think of a computer network,” says Menczer. “Biologists might think about a protein interaction or a metabolic network. I think of the Web.” Basically, semantic annotation networks work like this: Suppose you’re browsing the Web. You navigate to a site you enjoy, one you want to save to go back to later. One way to do this is by “bookmarking” the site in your Internet browser. You can organize your bookmarks according to certain categories, thus building a hierarchical structure with folders and subfolders. The next time you look for that enjoyable site, you will know just where to find it. Another way to save your site, however, is by using social bookmarking. Web sites such as Delicious.com provide an al-
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by Greg Ruhland
Photos courtesy of Indiana University
ternative “bottom up” model to the hierarchical semantics of browser bookmarking. A predefined hierarchy is replaced by keywords you can assign, or “tag,” at your discretion. Using either the tags of social bookmarking sites or folders from browsers, Menczer and his students are designing a framework that allows a Web surfer to view additional information through a contextual social map. This map will list sites and topics related to those a person has tagged, and even other Web surfers who have tagged sites in a similar fashion. In other words, Menczer’s framework leverages everyone’s annotations to reveal new sites and topics of interest through a graphical interface. “In the end, these networks will improve social Web applications such as search, recommendation, spam detection, and exploratory navigation interfaces,” Menczer says. The result is what Menczer calls “community-driven” semantics, meaning the bookmarks and annotations that are shared on sites such as Delicious.com are meaningful. If you find sites tagged by many people with the keyword “networks,” for example, that group of annotated sites will provide a glimpse into what networks mean in a community. Essentially, Menczer and colleagues are looking at emerging semantic networks that connect concepts, resources, and people, using these networks to better understand the information patterns that people build together. If you were driving around lost, you would pull out your map or GPS to find your whereabouts. The same goes for semantic maps relative to Web sites. Menczer believes that creating a “You Are Here”like map of Web topics will better enable people to reach where they want to go on the Internet. Users get a level of specificity tailored to their needs. For example, Menczer says, “you know that you’re on a computing site, but you zoom out and you say ‘OK, this is about these kinds of networks or this kind of system.’ The map is not by a particular person or by people agreeing specifically on a predefined organization. It is extracted from the structure that emerges from everybody doing what they’re doing for whatever reason they are doing it.” The potential for a tool like a semantic map annotation sparked the NSF’s interest. Menczer’s $500,000 NSF grant provides three years of support to explore his ideas.
Another method of leveraging patterns to build better Web tools has to do with recommendations. In a Google search, you submit a query, and the search engine recommends a slew of sites. Menczer wants to take this a step further. “We want to use all these annotations to say ‘If you’re interested in this, you might also be interested in this because other people with interests similar to yours have annotated these objects in a way similar to the way you annotated them,’” he says. Recommendations also are useful in showing how Web results are obtained. At present, search engines determine the results they offer up. If results are one day obtained because of multiple tagging of search words similar to your own, it could revolutionize the search process. “We’re actively engaged in trying to think these things through, studying the data, developing tools, and running experiments with human subjects to test the tools,” says Menczer. Give-A-Link A year before social bookmarking sites such as Delicious.com began appearing, Menczer came up with an idea for social Web collaboration during a NaN workgroup meeting. “We were talking about bookmarks,” he remembers. “And I thought, ‘What if we could take everybody’s bookmarks and put them in one place, then build a common structure out of it?’” Give-A-Link was born. Give-A-Link reconciles the top-down hierarchies of bookmarks stored in a browser with the bottom-up tagging systems of social bookmarking sites. Regardless of which method you favor, you can (and should, says Menczer) upload your favorite bookmarks to Give-A-Link, effectively “donating” those links to science. “We want to build this structure, hierarchical or not, from all these donations,” explains Menczer. “We want to have an information framework where these two views work together. One is a way to see the other.” Once bookmarks are stored on www.givealink.org, Menczer’s group extracts information from the bookmark links and collectively mines their structures. John Burgoon is a Web developer on the project. “What we’re hoping to do is to come at this whole problem in a unique way, finding similarities common to large numbers of people,” he says. “Because of that, we need to have the cooperation of large numbers of people.” Burgoon, Menczer, and their colleagues hope that millions of bookmarks will be donated to the project. All data collected so far is available for download at the site. How epidemics spread Alessandro Vespignani, also a physicist turned computer scientist from Rome, holds the distinguished rank of Rudy Professor and leads complex systems and networks groups at the IU School of Informatics and as part of the Digital Science Center
in the IU Pervasive Technology Institute. He has been elected as a fellow to the American Physical Society — the top organization of U.S. physicists. “I’ve been always fascinated by scientific problems, I have to be honest,” says Vespignani. Recalling an experience with an impatient physics teacher, he says, “I was asking questions, and he was telling me, ‘Well, that’s very complicated.’ I was not satisfied by that. I wanted to understand such things.” Vespignani’s work has remained curiosity-driven. When he came to IU Bloomington in 2004, his initial interest — computer viruses — began to progress toward an interest in biological viruses. Today, the spread of infectious diseases among humans is his main research focus. The National Institutes of Health has given Vespignani and others a $1.2 million grant to develop EpiC, short for Epidemics Cyberinfrastructure. The research group hopes that EpiC’s user-friendly Web portal format (epic.slis.indiana.edu) will encourage collaboration and more widespread use of epidemics algorithms and datasets. “Outside of mathematical biology,” Vespignani says, “you
to replace policymakers with computer programs.” Vespignani is pleased with the modeling platform work and says that when EpiC is finished, it will allow researchers to understand and better predict how epidemics behave. “Ultimately, my dream is to have epidemic forecasts just as we have weather forecasts now,” he says. “So you can look at what’s happening with the disease, how it has spread, and be able to integrate all the various possible sources from past history that might help. At the end you conglomerate everything, and then you get actual forecasts.” What’s going to be hot? In the past, Menczer and Vespignani have submitted several grant proposals together. They are currently in the middle of writing a proposal for another National Science Foundation grant. Their new project, says Menczer, will focus on predicting online dynamics. “We’re studying the dynamics of popularity on the Web. It was studied on search engines first, now on Wikipedia,” Menczer explains. “We want to try to see, ‘what is predictable’? Can
Visualizing an Influenza Epidemic
often find that the people working in social sciences are not so familiar with mathematical and computational tools.” The idea behind EpiC is to enable anyone from any discipline to share data, tools, and methodology. The project is in its beginning stages, but soon scientists worldwide will be able to upload epidemiological data (benefitting other colleagues in the process) and analyze it using various tools that EpiC provides. What’s more, EpiC may assist the efforts of public health officials by enabling the identification of epidemiological “hot spots” more easily. Meanwhile, Vespignani is busy with the work of computer modeling and continues to study disease forecasting. Through the use of hypothetical scenarios, his computer models may help policymakers sharpen their decision making. For example, a new strain of a disease may show up in a concentrated area. To choose the best method for containing and mitigating an outbreak, an EpiC user selects an appropriate scenario — administering anti-viral drugs, for instance, or launching a massive vaccination campaign. “You play these various scenarios, and then you can see which method is best to implement in reality,” says Vespignani. “Of course, there is still a need for policymakers. I don’t want
we do some kind of forecast about what’s going to be hot tomorrow, based on certain features that we can mine out of data that we get from either traffic or Wikipedia? “We build models to help us understand how people decide to go on one Web site or another, how deep they go, when they go back, when they open two windows, if they jump,” Menczer continues. “And where do they jump? Do they jump to another bookmark, to something random, to something they’ve visited often? We’re building networks of this kind of online behavior.” In the last 10 to 15 years, our world has been enveloped by networks from information technology to transportation. The new data contained in these networks, and the possibilities for its analysis, are transforming the questions that researchers ask and the territory they can explore. “For the first time, we are able to make measurements and to approach the problems of networks scientifically,” Vespignani says. “Informatics is about the gathering of this data and its analysis. There is an incredible group of people in this concentration at Indiana University that you may not find anywhere else in the world. This is what I think is exciting.”
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“Ultimately, my dream is to have epidemic forecasts just as we have weather forecasts now. So you can look at what’s happening with the disease, how it has spread, and be able to integrate all the various possible sources from past history that might help. At the end you conglomerate everything, and then you get actual forecasts.” — Alessandro Vespignani
Greg Ruhland recently received a joint master’s degree in public affairs and journalism from IU Bloomington.
Analyzing social networks by Tracy James
hen reporters from national media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post contact Stanley Wasserman (and they do, regularly), they aren’t calling him to discuss his latest study. They’re calling because Wasserman knows networks. Facebook, Google, the workplace, the check-out lane — Wasserman understands the significance of networks to everyone from marketers to spies. He understands the potential for social networks to help researchers explore critical and complicated issues involving health, politics, and much more. Most important, he understands the statistics that make analysis of social networks reliable because he essentially wrote the book on it. Wasserman published the textbook Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications in 1994 with Katherine Faust, a sociologist at University of California, Irvine. The book sells as well today as it did when first published. Wasserman, a disarming statistician, attributes his name recognition to longevity — he’s been talking about social network analysis (SNA) for almost 30 years, long before the current SNA boom. Nicholas Christakis is a Harvard University physician and medical sociologist whose studies frequently make national headlines (most recently, his study on how happiness spreads through social networks made international news). He describes Wasserman as a “giant” and his work as “foundational” to the field of social network analysis.
“Stan was doing important work in the ’80s and is still doing it,” Christakis says. “He was laying the foundation for social network analysis even before the advent of massive telecommunication networks and technology that give us the ability to study social network influence on a large scale.” Wasserman is Rudy Professor of statistics, psychology, and sociology at Indiana University Bloomington. He chairs the department of Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences and also is affiliated with the Program in Cognitive Science. When he came to IU in 2004, however, it was to join the Departments of Sociology and Psychology (also in the College of Arts and Sciences) at the behest of medical sociologist Bernice Pescosolido, who sought a colleague with Wasserman’s particular skills. The friend of my friend is my … Wasserman has degrees in statistics from Harvard University and in business and economics from University of Pennsylvania. He held faculty positions at Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Minnesota, and University of Illinois before coming to IU. His interest in social networks was piqued in graduate school when he worked with a statistician turned psychometrician. (A psychometrician tests and measures mental processes and abilities; Wasserman has been associate editor of Psychometrika, the official journal of the Psychometric Society, since 1988.) Wasserman and his colleague were particularly interested in relationships involving triads. “As the theory of
transitivity asks, ‘Is a friend of a friend also your friend?’” Wasserman says. Wasserman has combined his interest in statistics and the social and behavioral sciences by pushing the boundaries of statistical methodology to more accurately model the influence of relationships in real life. “Networks are much more complicated to study because you can’t use regular statistical models,” he says. “As a statistician you think a lot about quantities you want to study, and you like to think that they’re random in particular, maybe even easy, ways. Lots of statisticians think human behavior is random and that it should be modeled as such. The standard assumption of statistics is independence of basic units. “With network analysis,” he continues, “you have to include levels of dependence for your basic units, which makes network data tricky to model. Independence assumptions do not apply. Different types of models work for different relationships.” Network relationships can exist between colleagues, financial institutions, blogs, boards of directors, countries, families, friends, online gamers, university students, Web pages — the possibilities are endless. The field of network science has blossomed in large part because of cheap data storage and advances in electronic communications, such as the Internet. Social network platforms such as eHarmony and MySpace have made huge amounts of data available to study, giving researchers new food for thought and theory. The Internet search engine Google Scholar, for example, lists the number of times a research publication has been cited (the Wasserman/Faust book, incidentally, has been cited
at least 5,500 times). Before such electronic tools existed, a researcher had to physically search through countless research papers for similar information, information that now is updated regularly and available with a few keystrokes. Researchers studying interlocking boards of directors, for example, can now find annual reports online. In the past, they would have had to go to the library to “dig them up.” Christakis’s work, which Wasserman describes as “pretty fancy and very clever,” draws on a computerized data archive taken from the Framingham Heart study. The network data includes relational information about 12,000 people followed for 32 years. Christakis’s studies, co-authored by political scientist James Fowler from the University of California at San Diego, have popularized the notion that personal behaviors or characteristics such as obesity, smoking, and happiness can spread like contagions through social networks. As a statistician, Wasserman shies away from saying X causes Y, but he says few can refute that people are influenced by what their friends think. Word of mouth and buzz-marketing strategies bank on it. “If one of your best buddies says, ‘Wow, this is a great laundry detergent,’ you’re going to listen,” he says. “Your attitudes and behaviors are shaped by the attitudes and behaviors of the people you’re close to.” Wasserman’s methodologies study connections. His models identify structure within what can appear as chaos. They capture relationships and can be predictive, demonstrating how a pattern of behaviors or attitudes could have predicted others’ responses.
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“Are there actors who are central? Are there actors who are grouped with other actors who behave the same way? Are there actors that influence other actors? Is transitivity important — if you’re the friend of a friend, are you going to like me? Am I going to like you?” says Wasserman. “These are all structural concerns, aspects of social structure. The data can tell you the answers if you have the right tools to crunch the numbers.” ‘Google knows way too much’ Used incorrectly, the mathematical tools of social network analysis can find relationships where none exist. Authors of an article in BMJ, the medical journal that published Christakis’s and Fowler’s study about happiness in December 2008, reported in the same issue that by misusing statistical methodology, they could demonstrate how acne, headaches, and even height could appear to spread through social networks. “You can question any statistical analysis,” Wasserman says. “In social network analysis, you look for strong signals. You have to be careful to report things that are obvious, not ‘maybe yes, maybe no.’ We have enough tools now to know what’s reliable. Some of these tools go back 50 or 60 years.” Wasserman is frequently asked to help with the planning, design, and analysis of research involving social networks. He says social network analysis is being used in some exciting ways, including exploring public health issues. Wasserman has talked with “quite a few” researchers from medical schools, for example, who were interested in using network data to study
in Indianapolis that closed in the 1980 s, and also her work on how the stigma of mental illness spreads differently through populations of different countries. While some data can be easily tapped through electronic means, other data still needs to be methodically collected by asking subjects questions, as it was done 100 years ago. Wasserman is helping one researcher at Columbia University, who is using network data to examine issues faced by children of incarcerated parents. The only way to collect the data is by directly contacting the children, their friends, their parents, and parents of their friends and asking them a series of questions. Business uses for social network data can be unsettling because of the ease with which the data are available. Pages visited during Internet surfing are recorded. Netflix just gave away its network data, Wasserman says, in a contest geared toward its marketing and advertising needs. Even academic researchers have access to information from unsuspecting sources. Wasserman knows of one researcher who has access to data collected from World of Warcraft, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game. “Google knows way too much about you, the things that you search, the products that you buy,” Wasserman says. “When you go to the store and buy stuff and the computer scans your bar codes, that’s all recorded. They give you coupons based on what you have just bought.” Wasserman says it is “amazing” to see some of his methodologies and ideas from the last 10 years or so finally taking
“Is transitivity important — if you’re the friend of a friend, are you going to like me? Am I going to like you? These are all structural concerns, aspects of social structure. The data can tell you the answers if you have the right tools to crunch the numbers.”
diabetes, and the National Institutes of Health is now seeking proposals for research that uses social systems to exploring kidney disease, nutrition, and obesity, in addition to diabetes. Wasserman says standard approaches to study the epidemiology of diseases stopped working when scientists realized that people mix at different rates. Researchers studying HIV, for example, have come to realize that sexual contact is not homogenous throughout the population. Wasserman has helped sex researchers with studies involving sex workers, STD transmission, and other issues in the United States and countries such as Thailand and Uganda, where he says interest in social network ideas and sexual behavior is high. “For sex research, (Alfred) Kinsey would have said, ‘Study the individual.’ Not true,” Wasserman says. “People are embedded in networks; ideas and sexual behavior spread through networks.” Researchers have long recognized the importance of network influences in mental health research, Wasserman says, pointing, for example, to Pescosolido’s research involving patients of Central State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital
off in today’s research. Years ago, when he began teaching a summer workshop at the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, he had two students. Today, six classes with as many as 20 students in each cover SNA methodology. Attendance at the International Network for Social Network Analysis annual conference has grown from around 50 when Wasserman began attending the conferences 30 years ago to today’s crowds of 600 to 700 people. When Wasserman gives presentations in Washington, D.C., around a third of the audience is made up of staff from the CIA, FBI, and other federal employees with an interest in using network techniques to find terrorists. But Wasserman says his greatest influence lies in teaching. “I’ve been teaching workshops on network methods for more than 20 years. Over time, you educate people to do better statistics, and, hence, better research.” Christakis describes Wasserman’s work as “useful, creative, and generous. He wants to make the pie bigger for everyone.” Tracy James is a freelance writer in Bloomington and a media specialist for the IU Office of University Communications.
[ oil on panel, 29.5”H x 35.5”W ] Betsy Stirratt, 2006
Connecting the dots for better mental health by Karen Garinger You’re feeling like something the cat dragged in. You have aching muscles, a sore throat, zero energy. But it’s Monday morning, and your budget presentation is due to your boss by the end of the day. So you trudge into the office, and on the way to your desk, two longtime coworkers are eager to tell you that you look terrible. Your officemate doesn’t stop there. “Go to the doctor immediately,” she says. “If you won’t go on your own, I’ll drive you.”
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Betsy Stirratt is director of the School of Fine Arts Gallery at IU Bloomington.
his, says Indiana University Bloomington sociologist Bernice Pescosolido, is an example of how social ties affect individual routes to medical care. For more than a century, sociologists have demonstrated that our social networks — composed of the people with whom we regularly associate in professional, familial, recreational, and many other settings — have an impact on the actions that we take. Pescosolido, who is both Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, applies this knowledge to studying the kinds of social support that are crucial to helping people get needed health care. Recently, much of her work has examined people with psychological problems and the patterns and pathways they follow to obtain appropriate treatment. This mental-health research builds on established research about the interrelationships among social networks and physical conditions. “We know that the most obvious physical illnesses are subject to social networks,” Pescosolido says. “For
viduals, but also by the people around them,” Pescosolido says. And despite whether subjects decided on their own to get treatment, were guided or coerced by others, or experienced some combination of circumstances, “very few of the subjects told a story of a quick and efficient entry into care with the onset of symptoms,” Pescosolido says. In other words, like many other decisions, accessing mental health care is often complicated. As mental-health treatment has changed over the past few decades, sociologists have tried to measure what these changes have meant to individuals with mental illnesses and their social networks. One of the most sweeping trends has been the closing of large inpatient mental hospitals and the shift to outpatient or residential care provided through community mental-health centers. Pescosolido was co-principal investigator of one such transition, working with Eric Wright; John McGrew, professor of psychology at IUPUI; and a team of researchers, consumers, and policy makers in Indiana. For 10 years, they analyzed the aftermath of the 1992 closing of Indi-
“The process of seeking help for mental illnesses is shaped not only by individuals, but also by the people around them.”
example, a classic study in Alameda County, California, in the 1970s was one of the first to document that the nature of people’s social relationships is related to whether an individual will suffer from coronary heart disease. Social networks have been implicated in physical problems from tuberculosis to obesity.” But what about mental illnesses? In a project called the Indianapolis Network Mental Health Study, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, Pescosolido and thengraduate students Eric Wright (now a professor at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis) and Anne Figert (now an associate professor at Loyola University) looked closely at how individuals who visited one of Indianapolis’s largest hospitals entered into treatment. “About 40 percent said, ‘I decided to go,’” Pescosolido reports. “About 25 percent said they were coerced into care.” But a large proportion of subjects, about 33 percent, said they “muddled through” the process of initiating treatment. “They reported that they were very conflicted about going for care and delayed for a long time — sometimes 10 or 12 years — about whether they should or shouldn’t go,” Pescosolido says. In general, Pescosolido has found that the more social networks a subject reported having, the more likely the subject was to recall having been coerced into care. “Another thing we saw is that people who are eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder tend to report a coercive pathway into care,” she says. “This makes sense if you consider that when individuals are in a manic phase, they don’t perceive that they need medical attention.” The Indianapolis study supports the theory that the process of seeking help for mental illnesses is shaped “not only by indi-
ana’s Central State Hospital. Called the Central State Hospital Discharge and Tracking Study, the project was based on interviews with Central State patients, members of their families and communities, and former hospital employees. “We found that for the first six or eight years, the former Central State patients did no better or worse than they had when they were living at the hospital,” Pescosolido says. “But then their networks of families and friends began to burn out under the strain of caring for them. “Large mental hospitals certainly needed to be reformed, but in many cases, we’ve replaced them with a ‘revolvingdoor’ approach,” she continues. “We’re not asking individuals enough about what kinds of support systems they now have, and we’re not creating those support systems. I think that a lot of classic problems in medicine — such as low utilization of treatment, poor adherence to doctors’ orders — are less effectively addressed by encouraging individual patients alone than by encouraging and supporting those around them as well.” Pescosolido offers an example. “Say you go to the doctor, and the doctor tells you to do something, and when you go home, the people around you tell you that the doctor’s right. You’re probably going to do [what the doctor said]. If the people around you say, ‘The doctor’s wrong; you don’t have a mental illness’, you’re probably not going to listen to the doctor.” So if society wants to help people with mental illness live successfully in the community, but the social networks of those who are ill are weak or unsupportive or even nonexistent, then we must find a way to help them form new networks. One current attempt to do this was piloted in Madison, Wisconsin, and is now promoted by the Indiana Division of Mental Health
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Photo courtesy of Indiana University
and Addiction (with assistance from the ACT Center of Indiana, housed at IUPUI, and the Roudebush Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis). The project is known as Assertive Community Treatment. While ACT was designed as a community-based intervention program, Pescosolido and her colleagues argue that much of its success lies in the fact that ACT provides the kinds of social networks that people with mental illness seem to need most. “In the traditional model, one case manager may work with as many as 40 clients,” Pescosolido says. But with ACT, a client works with a variety of specialized care providers. One might be a housing specialist, another might be a group therapy specialist, and another might be a Medicaid case manager. One provider might take clients grocery shopping; a different Bernice Pescosolido, Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of provider might help a client negotiate with a landlord. sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington Pescosolido notes that by offering a team of caregivers, the ACT approach minimizes the problems of high divorced from the body and the physical/mental capacities that turnover among mental-health providers and clientindividuals bring to them.” provider relationship issues. Understanding this “marriage” between social networks “Community-based care is a good idea,” Pescosolido says, and individuals’ physical and mental capabilities is at the “but we have to take it seriously. It can’t just be opening the heart of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services hospital doors and sending people out to fend for themselves.” Research, which Pescosolido founded and directs. The conUnfortunately, she notes, our society sometimes considers sortium has been supported by institutional resources from solutions such as ACT to be too expensive. “It may seem costly, Indiana University and by grant funding from many agencies but it’s actually cheaper. All of the studies show that it prevents a great deal of rehospitalization,” Pescosolido says. “I also think such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the Indiana it’s ethical. The potentially positive influence of social networks Division of Mental Health and Addiction, and the MacArthur Foundation. It is an interdisciplinary program that brings for people with all kinds of health problems has been demontogether researchers from the state’s universities with governstrated repeatedly. We know that social networks matter.” ment leaders, consumers, and advocates. Its major goal is to Pescosolido is at the forefront of demonstrating the characfoster public awareness and improve public decision making teristics of social networks. In an article titled “The Sociology regarding mental illnesses. of Social Networks,” she describes relationships as “the basic The groundbreaking nature of Pescosolido’s contributions building blocks of human experience, mapping the connechas been recognized at the highest levels in her field. In 2005, tions that individuals have to one another.” The article outlines she received the Leo G. Reeder Award for distinguished contrithe history of thought about social networks, much of which butions to medical sociology from the American Sociological derives from the theories of German sociologist Georg Simmel (1858–1918). Another key figure in the development of network Association. The same year, she was awarded a $3.5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to fund a five-year theory was Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), whose 1892 case study of attitudes toward mental illness in 15 countries. Called study Suicide had a profound influence on Pescosolido during Stigma in Global Context — Mental Health Study (SGC-MHS), her graduate study at Yale University. “What draws sociologists the project examines how the prejudice and discrimination to the study of suicide is the notion that this highly personal faced by individuals with mental illness is shaped by the overall act is influenced by the surrounding society,” she says. context in which they live. “The Sociology of Social Networks” also identifies basic In all of her work, Pescosolido is guided by the model of huprinciples underlying all sociological research that employs a man interdependence. “I think that American health care is too network frame. Some of the principles seem especially pertinent to studies of people with mental illness and their access to focused on the individual and not enough on the kinds of interactions that are really powerful in determining people’s health proper care. For example, network interactions affect attitudes and their health care,” she says. “It’s not that the individual is as well as behaviors, actions, and outcomes; networks may be unimportant, but it’s just not all about the individual.” cooperative or in conflict with one another; and they can be regarded as positive or negative, helpful or harmful. “FurKaren Garinger is senior writer and editor for the Office of the Trustees of Indiana University in Bloomington. ther,” Pescosolido writes, “individuals’ social networks are not
Say you’re recently unemployed,
The Network Formation Game
and you meet a friend of a
by Lauren J. Bryant
on the local job market, so
friend over lunch. The friend’s friend seems to have good connections and information
you decide to link up with this person. You exchange information and leave lunch hopeful that your new association will lead to future benefits.
his “not-what-you-know-but-who– you-know” networking is familiar to millions of job seekers. It’s also an example of a network model in the field of economics, in this case, labor markets. “The idea is, the network of social interactions we have is a key way that we get job information,” says Frank Page, professor of economics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. “The configuration of a network may create a lack of job information, too. Depending on the network a person is in, that person may not see a job because he doesn’t have the information. So networks may have a heck of a lot to do with the persistence of unemployment, income inequality, and poverty.” This quick analysis of “schmoozing,” or the lack of it, is central to Page’s area of expertise—understanding the characteristics of networks and how they affect economic interactions. To study networks, Page uses a game theory approach. In economics, game theory is a hypothetical representation of how players (or agents) make decisions (or choose strategies). Basically, the players,
their possible strategies, and their sets of payoffs (or outcomes) constitute a game. A common example is the so-called “prisoner’s dilemma”: Two criminals are separated when caught, then offered the same deal by police. If criminal A confesses and implicates criminal B, then A goes free while B gets 20 years. The same goes for B. If neither confesses or implicates the other, both criminals get minimal sentences, say 2 years. If both confess and implicate the other, the sentences for both are more serious, say 10 years. The strategies are confess or don’t. The payoffs are the number of years in prison. The solution in this game is that both criminals will decide it’s better to confess, no matter what. If A confesses, she either goes free or gets 10 years (instead of 20). If B confesses, he gets the same. Even though staying quiet offers the best deal to both prisoners, traditional game theory predicts that each player will assume the other is holding to a fixed strategy and will unilaterally choose the strategy that offers the optimal outcome. The prisoner’s dilemma is an example of a noncooperative
with longtime research partner Myrna Wooders (of Vanderbilt University): “Given the rules of network formation, the preferences of individuals, the strategic behavior of coalitions, and the trembles of nature, what network dynamics are likely to emerge and persist?” Although Page’s current work is theoretical and is expressed in the language of formal mathematics, the applications for models of how networks form and affect economic behavior are potentially widespread. “Frank Page’s work is really foundational,” says Gerhard Glomm, chair of the IU Bloomington Department of Economics. “It’s not unlike the foundational work done in the 1950s by economic theorists Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu, who designed mathematical models of the perfect competitive market. If we’re going to create policies to influence social and financial networks, then we really need to know what determines such networks to begin with.” In Page’s view, network formation models might have of-
game (the criminals would be better off if they cooperated on keeping quiet). In economics, though, noncooperative networks are not the norm. “Economics is about transactions and interactions, and a network is a configuration of interactions,” Page says. “In forming networks, players don’t work noncooperatively. They get together, they form coalitions and make agreements.” Using the paradigms of game theory, Page is working on illuminating aspects of network formation. Rather than look at networks from a single individual’s point of view, his gametheory approach takes the view that networks are created by strategic players acting through coalitions. Page, who came to IU from the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, cites an example from the world of finance. “One of the fundamentals of economics is that pricing is linear,” he says. “You multiply price times quantity, and add everything up. But a strategic player in a game might say to another player, ‘well, if you buy more, then I’ll give you a discount.’ In a ‘perfect’ market, that’s not possible, but in a strategically competitive one, it is. In strategic competition, players think about what their competitors are going to do and make best-response choices. A network gives you a very elegant way to draw a picture of what is going on with these strategic advantages and keep up with it.” Lately, Page has been trying to create models of how network dynamics emerge, evolve, and reach some sort of equilibrium across time. As he puts it in a paper co-written
fered a much better predictor of the current U.S. economic situation. “The crisis we’re in right now is an example of the cascading effect of default through a market economy,” he says. “The housing market bubble burst, which led to mortgage defaults, and because those mortgages were bundled and pieces were sold throughout the economy, default cascaded through the system. And not only that, but people were also implementing further transactions based on their anticipations about the cash flow from these bundled mortgage securities.” A network model of these transactions would have offered a “better snapshot” of this disastrous cascading effect. “All these transactions set up a network of parties and counterparties to cash flows,” Page says. “I would argue that networks provide much better insight. Network models allow you to come up with a better risk measure because they offer a picture of the financial consequences and problems caused by default.” Network formation theory in economics is a new field—“it’s like working in the Wild West,” Page says—which is why Page is happy to be doing networking of his own at IU Bloomington. The array of network specialists on the campus is thrilling, he says, and he hopes to play a role in establishing a new network research institute or center. Meanwhile, Page is keeping busy refining his understanding of networks. “I think this work has immense implications for the future,” he says. “Network models, simple as they may be, are very powerful.”
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“Given the rules of network formation, the preferences of individuals, the strategic behavior of coalitions, and the trembles of nature, what network dynamics are likely to emerge and persist?”
Lauren J. Bryant is editor of Research & Creative Activity magazine.
by Ryan Piurek
ne by one, three participants — two males, one female — descend like superheroes from the clear blue sky and land, feet first, on a gray, marble-looking pathway. For a brief couple of seconds, they stand in front of steps leading to a blue building, rigidly facing each other, their heads tilting toward one another ever so slightly. In front of the building are green shrubs and a row of blue flowers, and off in the distance lies what appears to be an ocean. Gathered on this serene island are Binny from Detroit, his jet-black hair sculpted in the shape of a king’s crown and complemented by equally dark eyebrows and chin hairs; J.W.C. from Houston (imagine a fraternity-brother type dressed for a job interview), and a copper-haired woman in a stylish bronze top, plaid skirt, and high heels who identifies herself as “Littlemisscycling” from New York. Soon they are joined by their group leader, Scotty, a brown-haired man, who looks to be in his early 20s and is dressed in a charcoal-colored business suit, gray shirt, and matching tie. After brief introductions, Scotty leads the group down the path and toward a gated area where Binny, J.W.C., and Littlemisscycling will participate in a unique exercise in collaboration and team-building. The exercise takes place in a popular 3-D virtual world known as Second Life, which allows its residents to interact with each other through their virtual personas, called “avatars,” that can be customized any way the user wants. Since opening to the public in 2003, Second Life has enabled its millions of residents from around the globe to chat, explore, shop, meet new people, and participate in group activities such as the one involving avatars Binny, J.W.C., and Littlemisscycling.
“Well, Binny and J.W.C, have you done anything like this before?” Littlemisscycling asks as the group glides across a field of green grass toward the gated area. Both men answer in the negative, but prove to be eager and adept at working together virtually. Communicating through voice-chat technology, their collaborative task involves solving six 3-D puzzles using directional keys. Conversing as if they might actually be in the same spot together — and flipping over puzzle cubes like virtual Vanna Whites — the team members complete their task within the allotted time and clearly enjoy themselves in the process. “That was a lot of fun!” says Binny. “I was kind of intimidated at first, but this was exciting.” “I think we might get the team prize,” says Littlemisscycling. Being ‘in world’ For about two years now, Littlemisscycling — a.k.a. Anne Massey, Dean’s Research Professor of information systems at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Bloomington — has been, as she calls it, “in world,” exploring the possibilities of virtual environments for business and education. The exercise she participated in as Littlemisscycling was designed for a research study that Massey and colleagues conducted. The exercise illustrates, in relatively simple fashion, how individuals can engage in collaborative problem-solving activities in a virtual world setting. As Massey delves deeper into these dynamic environments, though, she continues to unlock complex secrets regarding how virtual worlds are fa-
Images courtesy of IU Kelley School of Business
A second life
cilitating multi-person activities and dramatically altering the landscape of business, teaching, and research collaboration. An avid reader of history, Massey, who came to IU in 1996 and whose research centers on collaboration and group dynamics, equates the advent of virtual worlds and their expansion into business and education with the early days of the Internet and World Wide Web and the subsequent explosion of e-commerce activity. She received her introduction to the Internet as a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute when a member of her dissertation committee showed her a rudimentary HTMLbased Web page. The page, she says, was neither visually stimulating nor interactive, and her immediate reaction was along the lines of “What would I do with something like that?” “I remember, as the Web was becoming more mainstream, I could go to the bookstore at North Carolina State University — this was is in 1995 — and there’d be a book with, theoretically, all the links out on the Web that would ever be, which was very funny. So you would get version one [of the book] and then version two, and very quickly you’d realize, this isn’t a good investment!’” Today, just as they considered the benefits of the Web, companies nationally and internationally are weighing the merits of investing in virtual world technology. Corporations such as
IBM and Sun Microsystems already are heavily engaged, but others are in the earliest stages of exploration. “When we were first looking at the Web and businesses were beginning to say, ‘Ok, let’s create an e-commerce site,’ a lot of consumers weren’t using the Web. They didn’t have access and if they did, it was usually a slow dialup access. The penetration just wasn’t there,” Massey says. “The same thing is true with 3-D virtual worlds. By and large, consumers are just not there yet, so it’s not a big surprise that some companies have been disappointed so far. “Having said that,” she continues, “right now there is growing interest in ‘internal’ use of virtual worlds for the business enterprise. For example, can virtual worlds be used to facilitate the work of teams that are nationally or internationally distributed? Can they be used for recruiting, on-boarding [assimilating new hires into an organization], or training my corporate employees?” While attention is presently turned to business enterprise applications, “consumers will eventually come along as well,” Massey says. “The younger demographic, kids and certainly teenagers, are in these worlds, playing games, being social, and doing all sorts of things. [Virtual worlds] are going to be just like the Internet — which is now second nature to them.”
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Anne Massey stands in front of a sample virtual world created for one of her research projects studying how corporations can use collaboration technologies to enable new organizational structures and virtual teams. [Inset] Anne Massey’s avatar in Second Life.
Image courtesy of IU Kelley School of Business
The IU Kelley School of Business has its own campus on an island in the Second Life virtual world.
A virtual world immersion In the early days of the Internet, businesses discovered that while their customers might not yet be online, they could use the Web to expeditiously deliver human resources and other corporate documentation to their employees. This type of transfer was an early application of intranets, and today’s virtual worlds are increasingly being used in a similar fashion — for internal purposes, such as training and teambuilding. In today’s educational and business environments, leaders are increasingly looking toward new technologies to help them overcome boundaries of time, distance, and cost, Massey says. In recent years, those technologies have included teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and Webinars. Though useful platforms for distance education purposes, all of these technologies have their limitations. Massey points out that virtual worlds allow residents to overcome these shortcomings, while providing a much more immersive experience. “Other technologies lack an element of human interaction and focus,” she says. “For example, say I’m here in my office with my big beautiful [computer] screen, and I’m participating in a Webinar. What do I see? I see slides,
maybe some chat. I may or may not know who else is participating. I see your name. But I don’t really know you, especially if you’re somewhere else. It’s not that I can’t learn from this, but what else could happen while it’s going on? I can turn the volume down. I’ve got my e-mail going. The phone rings. I’m instant messaging. Because a Webinar is flat and lacks the richness of human interaction, it’s easy for me to focus my attention elsewhere.” In 2008, true to her research, Massey came together virtually with Mitzi Montoya, a colleague from North Carolina State University’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management, to design a course titled Managing the Services Lifecycle. As the two researchers described in a recent article for EDUCAUSE Review, the course was motivated by “transformations occurring in the global service economy,” or, more specifically, businesses seeking to enhance their traditional services with new technologies, including wikis, blogs, and 3-D virtual worlds. The course, first offered in the spring of 2008, involved teams of master’s students from IU and NC State who worked to develop potential service offerings in Second Life. Massey and Montoya divided their 42 students into 11
teams, assigning six teams to a project for Target Corp. and five teams to a project for a large Fortune 100 financial services company. With an array of Web tools at their disposal (document repositories, e-mail, chat, wiki, blogs), a place to regularly meet (NCSU’s Delta campus in Second Life), and access to their sponsors’ virtual islands, where they could learn more about the company and interact with company representatives, the students discovered that, indeed, virtual worlds had real-world value. For the dispersed student teams, Second Life provided a way for them to build relationships and collaborate in real time. Their ideas for potential services that companies could deliver through Second Life ranged from business-to-consumer services to more internal applications, such as employee training. (As an extension of the course, the Kelley School of Business’s Kelley Executive Partners program unveiled its own virtual island, modeled after the limestone buildings on the IU Bloomington campus, in the world of Second Life.) it’s All about presence With her students convinced — and their corporate sponsors impressed — by the largely untapped business and teaching potential of virtual worlds, Massey has turned her attention to the issue of performance as it pertains to virtual worlds. More
problem, but proving that it addresses the problem or provides a value-add, that’s the next step.” The real power of the virtual world Judging the efficacy of a new technology is far from a new phenomenon. Framed on the walls of Massey’s office are several vintage telephone advertisements that illustrate her point. In one 1930 s ad, a woman in a nursery filled with children feels safer than ever because she now has a telephone at her disposal. “No bother, there’s a telephone here,” she is shown saying. Another ad, clearly targeted at the business executive, focuses on the allure of the instantaneous communication and immediate feedback that a telephone provides. “Virtual worlds will be similar,” Massey says. “Social media is all about communities, content, context, and connections. We’re beginning to see the integration of virtual worlds with social networking applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Integration will accelerate their use and acceptance.” At IU alone, a number of projects illustrate growing interest, including the Virtual Congress at IU’s Center on Congress and the Department of Telecommunication’s LondonTown and Synthetic World projects. Massey is careful to point out, though, that virtual environments are not the answer to every business or academic
specifically, she is researching whether it is possible to link the unique characteristics of 3-D environments, in particular one’s sense of “virtual presence,” to actual outcome measures such as learning outcomes or team performance. In a series of experiments, she and other colleagues, including Mitzi Montoya, have developed and validated a scale to assess perceptions of presence in virtual environments intended to support purposeful collaborative work. Drawing from past research on mediated collaboration and group dynamics, their scale assesses three relationships: self-to-others (awareness), self-to-task (absorption), and self-to-environment (immersion). Working with corporate partners, Massey and colleagues are now using the scale to assess the link between virtual presence and performance outcomes. They are also using it to compare and contrast virtual world platforms. “I can sit here and talk ad nauseum about all of the characteristics of virtual worlds,” Massey says, “but from a business perspective, you have to show value, and value lies in outcomes. Our metric is a way to start to assess the characteristics of virtual worlds in relation to performance, whatever your outcomes of interest are. It’s the same challenge we’ve had with Webinars or any collaborative technology. I can throw technology at a
collaboration need, and that she and her colleagues have only begun to scratch the surface of these brave new, 3-D worlds. “[Virtual worlds] are just one element of what we call the collaboration tool kit,” she says. “There are times when the telephone is sufficient. There are times when wikis are sufficient. We need to collaborate on a document … well, I’ve never written a document in a meeting with people. We need to go away and work on our own.” But virtual worlds are clearly a piece of an ever-expanding puzzle. “They may be another channel with regard to consumer marketing. They may be another avenue for distance education. That’s what is exciting about them,” Massey says. “We don’t know the bounds. We don’t know what they are. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of risk. Some find that kind of scary. But for others it’s like, ‘Wow, this is really a landscape, and I can paint whatever I want!’” Ryan Piurek is assistant director of University Communications and a freelance writer in Bloomington.
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“Social media is all about communities, content, context, and connections. We’re beginning to see the integration of virtual worlds with social networking applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Integration will accelerate their use and acceptance.”
Why it plays in Peoria When it comes to a city’s power in today’s flat world, does geography still matter?
emember the cool kids in school? Their rise to power seemed so natural — whether aloof or outgoing, they were often the best looking or most athletic and effortlessly commanded respect. Only later did you realize their parents worked together, or they vacationed in the same places, and that their coolness was, in large part, predetermined by the home they were raised in. An increasingly connected society is presumed to be changing some of those coolness factors in the world at large. Or so some familiar accounts of globalization tell us — that the ongoing expansion of economic relationships has redefined the concept of boundaries, transcending physical limitations and theoretically increasing opportunities for upward mobility. In other words, the outsiders might have something the cool crowd needs, even if their paths don’t physically cross. Arthur S. Alderson, professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, has long been focused on issues of inequity. When he decided to investigate inequality between cities, he found that the classic model for such studies was based on regional or national prominence—Chicago, for instance, was presumed to be central to the Midwest economy. But globalization research has increasingly focused on the role that cities play in the international economy. Much of the resulting literature, says Alderson, argues that globalization may be producing “a new geography of centrality and marginality,” one with new hierarchies that cut across the old geography of East – West and tran-
scend divisions between developed countries and poorer nations. At the top of these new hierarchies are what researchers have called “global cities” or “world cities”— centers of international exchange that operate as “command points,” exercising power over other cities and driving the world economy. First-rank world cities are still the New Yorks and Londons of the world. But the world-city literature has shifted the conversation from one of powerful nations to one of a network of cities whose power and position in the network is dependent on relationships between cities. The rise of Mexico City and the fall of Detroit are seen as examples of this phenomenon. “[World-city literature] suggests that what matters more than local political geography is the position of cities in international flows and the way that investment, trade, and people move within that system,” says Alderson. But if world-city literature has shaken up old assumptions, Alderson’s work has shown that some of those old assumptions may still hold weight. His research sheds light on where — and why — world-city arguments have failed to accurately assess cities’ power and rankings. In effect, Alderson is challenging a core globalization argument that, in a global economy, physical geography does not matter anymore. “There’s this idea of reshuffling the deck,” he says. “And I’m trying to put that to the test.” [ r ight ] Arthur S. Alderson, professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington
by Zak Szymanski
Impressionistic data Is globalization changing the world? And if so, is there actually a new geography of centrality? Is it altering economic inequality? With such questions, Alderson had his work cut out for him. In the years since the idea of a new geography of inequality has emerged, various conclusions have been drawn. Saskia Sassen, a sociologist who coined the term “global city” in her 1992 book by the same name, said the rise of new powers nevertheless produced “a vast territory” excluded from processes in the economy. In the view of John Friedmann, author of the 1986 “world-city hypothesis” which served as a foundation for most modern world-city research, globalization offered the potential for cities to continuously rise and fall in rank, with openings for mobility based on a city’s ability to attract business investments. But while world-city literature “promises an account of globalization that is very concrete, where one can see globalization’s effects,” says Alderson, it also has been criticized for its “impressionistic” nature. Counting the population or financial institutions within
done it the way we had—applying basic network measures to the argument,” says Alderson. Nor had other world-city researchers used data from Global 500 firms to establish and evaluate economic relationships among cities. “There’s a natural affinity there,” says Alderson, “but nobody had put it together.” The first step was to identify the cities linked by the headquarters of these firms. Looking at the Global 500, including “investments, like firms buying other firms in other cities, or firms creating brand new subsidiaries in another location,” helped Alderson generate this data. In 2000, the first set of data Alderson used for his research, the Global 500 had headquarters in 125 cities, generating a network of 3,692 cities across the globe. Network centrality To visualize how world cities relate to others, Alderson offers the “star network,” which represents the exchange of ties between cities. In this network, city A is advantaged (a “world city”) be-
Alderson’s Star Network In this network, city A is advantaged, a “world city,” because it is the most active in the exchange of ties. Ties are measured by outdegree (ties sent from headquarter cities to subsidiaries) and indegree (ties received). City A also has the most closeness in this network, as it is closer to more cities than B through G are. For resources to go from city C to F, they must pass through A. Its closeness makes city A more powerful, because it is more independent and less likely to be controlled by other cities. And, because A stands between all other cities, it acts as a “broker” for all exchanges in the network. Betweenness gives city A the power to control exchanges between other cities.
cities, for instance, or even identifying where Olympic Games or Rolling Stones concerts took place, was presumed to offer information about those cities’ positions in the world. Using such attribute-based data meant researchers were basically forced to “assume what they set out to establish,” chiefly, that cities operate in a system and their status is dependent upon their position in that system. “But to really interrogate world-city literature you have to have data on the relationships between cities,” says Alderson. “It’s not about the attributes, but rather the roles they play vis-àvis other cities.” With a dearth of such data it was up to Alderson and his colleagues to generate it. And if there was one key relation that linked cities in a world system of cities, they thought, it was the relationship between multinational enterprises and their subsidiaries. Collecting data on the Global 500, an annual ranking of the largest international firms, Alderson used techniques drawn from social network analysis to analyze the world-city system. In the field of world-city research, it was a first. “No one had
cause it is the most active in the exchange of ties. Ties are measured by “outdegree” (ties sent from headquarter cities to subsidiaries) and “indegree” (ties received). City A also has the most “closeness” in this network, as it is closer to more cities than B through G are. For resources to go from city C to F, they must pass through A. Its closeness makes city A more powerful, because it is more independent and less likely to be controlled by other cities. And, because A stands between all other cities, it acts as a “broker” for all exchanges in the network. “Betweenness” gives city A the power to control exchanges between other cities. Outdegree, closeness, and betweenness are all measures of power. Prestige, on the other hand, is measured by indegree. Early on, Alderson’s data showed vast inequities. For instance, in measuring outdegree of the 3,692 cities in the network, only 125 — those with Global 500 headquarters — sent any ties at all. Even among the 125 that did send ties, extremes were found. While New York and London sent thousands of ties each, places like Fukuoka (Japan) sent just a single tie to other cities.
50.90 San Francisco
25.65 New York
1955 New York
1278 San Francisco
51.47 New York
10.01 Los Angeles
4.32 Hong Kong
455 Los Angeles
3.98 San Francisco
48.38 Saint Louis
2.95 Mexico City
2.61 São Paulo
283 Saint Louis
273 Mexico City
245 Hong Kong
1.48 Buenos Aires
200 Buenos Aires
1.16 Kuala Lumpur
192 São Paulo
173 Kuala Lumpur
0.90 Rio de Janeiro
With the measurements calculated, Alderson generated a top-50 list across all categories. Predictably, the largest overlap with previous research occurred when identifying cities at the top. There were some surprises, though. Tokyo had previously been viewed as a first-rank but less powerful city than New York and London. In Alderson’s analysis, it surpassed both cities in outdegree, closeness, and betweenness. Paris, too, seems more important than previous research suggested, having more outdegree than London and more betweenness and closeness than Tokyo, London, and New York. Cities like Miami and Singapore have long held prominent places in attributebased rankings of world cities. But they don’t even rank in Alderson’s top 50 cities measured by outdegree. As few as 44 percent of cities identified in previous rankings appeared in Alderson’s top 50 cities ranked by outdegree, betweenness, and closeness. But up to 90 percent of previously ranked cities appeared in Alderson’s indegree rankings. These discrepancies, says Alderson, suggest that world-city literature may have a tendency to “mistake prestige for power.” So, too, might the rest of us. Who would have guessed that Omaha, Nebraska (20th in betweenness and 26th in outdegree) would be more powerful than Barcelona, Spain (40th in prestige but unranked in outdegree, betweenness, and closeness). Or that Peoria, Illinois, would be more powerful than Vancouver, Johannesburg, and Shanghai? With just 55 cities out of 3,692 in the network occupying a slot in Alderson’s rankings, Sassen’s argument of excluded territory seems to hold. “It’s the central paradox of globalization,” says Alderson. As transnational exchange and, theoretically, opportunities expand, power becomes concentrated in fewer places. But what sort of system operates with power in the hands of so few? And does this new hierarchy cut across the old geography?
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Ranking of cities on measures of power and prestige in 2000
Cliques and snobs It may surprise you to know that Evansville, Indiana, is a snob. In Alderson’s block modeling, cities are grouped by equivalence criteria and then named for the nature of their relations with others. Primary blocks — those that include world cities — are cliques with a high level of in-group preference but also a higher than expected level of outside relations. These are the popular kids, and the most active in 2000 sent about 37 percent of all ties, 23 percent of which were received by members of the same block. The snob is who you imagine he would be, the one who sticks to himself and refuses to play with others. Evansville is so named for occupying a space between the center and periphery of the network, but not forging ties with either or forming a clique with other cities of its kind. When the results of block modeling were mapped, they ap-
network of cities looked less like the star: it was not as centralized or hierarchical. As the economy becomes more global, “firms are increasingly dependent on face-to-face interactions with global-aware business people,” says Alderson. And those people — from translators to bank representatives — are increasingly found in a small number of sites. “Global cities are where decisions are made,” says Alderson, “and these decisions are more likely to be made in the Londons, New Yorks, and Tokyos of the world than they were 20 or 30 years ago.” Dismantling a core argument of world-city literature is significant, but Alderson also hopes to apply his long-term data — including that from 2007, which he is currently analyzing — toward looking within the cities themselves.” “We now have three snapshots of what’s happening in the world economy. We now can ask: ‘What are the implications, in practical terms?’ We can use information on the position and roles of different cities in the world economy to understand the fate of cities and their residents.” In most world cities, Alderson would expect to see oc-
“The Clevelands and Cincinnatis are trying to figure out, ‘How do I get into this game?’ How do we attract people who will create the next Google or Microsoft?’ This research will have some implications for understanding what really drives occupational restructuring, why the Bostons and Silicon Valleys can do what they do, and why it’s so hard for others.”
peared much like the star—a network in which a central node (e.g., a city) connects to other nodes (other cities) that don’t connect to each other. But when comparing the star network generated by block modeling with traditional maps of political geography, Alderson found that the power and prestige of cities still depends on the power of the nations in which they are located. “When we identify the cities that play particular roles, it challenges the idea that the global system is cutting across old lines,” says Alderson. “Yes, things are changing, but we don’t find support for a new geography of inequality.”
Small world? In fact, some of those old lines of inequality are intensifying. After analyzing data from 2000, Alderson repeated this process with data from 1981, discovering that the average city located in a peripheral country grew roughly 4 percent less close, 3 percent less between, and 12 percent less prestigious in those 20 years. Relative to core cities, semi-peripheral cities had 9 percent less outdegree in 2000 than they did in 1981, and peripheral cities had 21 percent less. In the 1980s, the same
cupational restructuring, comparatively rapid gentrification, and rising inequality, a result of an economy centered less on manufacturing and more on firms and the people who service them. In other cities — like those hoping to nurture what social scientist Richard Florida calls a post-industrial “creative class” — Alderson’s data could help citizens strategize based on their city’s position in the global economy. “The Clevelands and Cincinnatis are trying to figure out, ‘How do I get into this game?’ How do we attract people who will create the next Google or Microsoft?’” says Alderson. “This research will have some implications for understanding what really drives occupational restructuring, why the Bostons and Silicon Valleys can do what they do, and why it’s so hard for others.” Zak Szymanski covered politics in New York and California before moving to Indiana in 2007. He currently freelances for a variety of local and national media outlets and is a part-time instructor at the IU School of Journalism in Bloomington.
Photo courtesy of Stacie King
Alderson used another network technique called “block modeling” to analyze the ties between cities and get some answers.
in the In-between I
by Lauren J. Bryant
Perched on the razor-thin edge of a rocky precipice, Stacie King finally started to cry. She’d managed the pre-dawn
departure, accepted the gunwielding guide, endured the six-hour vertical hike into the mountains of southern Mexico. But edging toward a sharp point that vanished into mist, she finally got scared.
was terrified,” recalls King, an assistant professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. “I love my work, but I thought, ‘I want to see my children again, I don’t want anyone to die.’” King urged her hiking party to find another route, but the guide insisted the only way was forward. So King followed, clinging to a sheer rock face with her fingertips and toes as she inched her way around and down. When she reached solid ground, King’s fears gave way to astonishment. “It was a slope that only crazy people would dare try to scale,” she says, “but then we looked back and saw why our passage had been blocked.” The hiking party had just descended the archaeological remains of a fortification created by mountain-dwelling people some 400 to 600 years ago. “It seems that in response to some sort of threat, the people who lived at this site built a defensive wall, essentially blocking all outsider access,” says King. “They mortared courses of stone across a craggy rock outcropping to make a sheer face that no one could pass. “We don’t know who built it, or why or when,” she continues. “Were they protecting themselves from Zapotec, Aztec, or Spanish invaders, or were they hiding from neighbors? Or did they just decide to isolate themselves from everyone else?” These are the kinds of questions that King, who specializes in Mesoamerican archaeology, loves to ask. As an archaeologist, she’s fascinated by evidence of civilizations long gone, especially when the finds are as rare as a high rock wall in the remote mountains. Lately, though, her most important discovery hasn’t been about artifacts or ancient remains — it’s been about people, live people. “I’ve come to realize that archaeology is about working with local people and col-
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Photo courtesy of Stacie King
Photo courtesy of Stacie King
“Luxury goods showed power, both because the civilizations had access to such resources and because elites could use them to ‘show off’ in politically motivated exchanges with lesser rulers.”
laborating with descendants today,” King says. “I’ve realized that I’m good at it, I enjoy it, and it’s gratifying. It’s where I get the most reward for my work.”
Stones for cotton At the start of her career, King focused on more typical archaeological fare — “ancient dead folk,” as she puts it with a smile. She fell in love with Central America and Mexico as an undergraduate, when she spent six months doing archaeological fieldwork in Honduras. While pursuing her Ph.D. in anthropology (first at Vanderbilt University, then University of California at Berkeley), King returned to Mexico to work along the west coast of Oaxaca, a state roughly the size of Ohio in the southern part of the country. Working with Mesoamerican archaeologist Arthur Joyce (now of the University of Colorado), King spent parts of several years doing fieldwork and conducting excavations in the coastal region known as the Costa Chica. She and her colleagues studied obsidian blades, ceramic vessel fragments, spindle whorls, bone needles, and an unusual set of ceramic bells. These artifacts dated to the Early Postclassic era of Mexican history, about 900 to 1200 CE. Some of the objects stood out because they didn’t belong — that is, they didn’t originate from the coastal area. Obsidian, for example, is a glass-like volcanic rock available only in the mountains, but “more than 90 percent of the lithics [stone objects] being used in coastal Oaxaca at this time were obsidian,” King says. To get the stone, coastal residents, who had access to native cotton plants, made cotton thread and bartered it with people in the highlands. “In my excavations, I was able to document [this],” King says. Such exchange networks were critical in ancient Mesoamerica. Urban civilizations — for example, the Aztec and the Zapotec — relied on extensive trade networks to obtain valuable goods that could be produced or collected only along the coast. Goods such as cacao, dried fish, and tropical bird feathers were powerful political tools, King explains. “One of the ways that elites kept themselves in power was through the interregional exchange of luxury items,” she says.
Prehispanic Corningware Meanwhile, another important material object stayed put. King and her colleagues noted that pottery did not travel the native exchange networks. To archaeologists, pottery is a trove of information. Just as squat white Corningware with its blue cornflower stencil says 1960s and the sleek lines of a porcelain Pottery Barn plate point to the 2000s, so ancient pottery speaks of its own time. People of ancient Mexico used a great variety of objects made from fired clay, and their ceramics have lasted well. Given the robust exchange networks between the elite highlands and the coast, King and her colleagues thought they would find that Early Postclassic residents used a mass-produced style of ceramic. Surprisingly, they didn’t. “Exchange networks were in place, but the ceramics made on the coast were unique,” King says. “The local people took ideas that were communicated along the exchange networks and developed those ideas into a ceramic style that was specific to coastal Oaxaca.” When archaeologists are able to connect a particular ceramic style to a particular time period and place, ceramics become an important “diagnostic” indicator. The coastal ceramic discoveries are important, King says, because they established a new diagnostic style for the Early Postclassic era. “For the first time in Oaxaca, we can say that we have an actual ceramic design that is very specific to the 200-year time period between 975 and 1220 CE,” King says. Using that information, archaeologists can reassess ceramics found in other parts of Oaxaca and possibly date other archaeological sites more precisely to the Early Postclassic period, a particularly tumultuous time in Mexican history. “There was major restructuring and rebuilding going on in Mexico after the collapse of the Classic Period urban centers such as the Maya, Zapotec, and Teotihuacan empires,” King explains. “So the Early Postclassic was a period of considerable political and cultural upheaval. The identification of this ceramic style may help us pinpoint phases in other sites that pertain to this time period and give us greater insight into how and where all that change was playing out.” The in-between During her research on exchange networks between the coast and highlands, King began to wonder about what was going on in the middle. “If we’re going to understand relationships between people on the coast and urban civilizations in the highlands, then we really need to understand what happens to those networks of communication in between,” she says. For that reason, King is beginning an archaeological project
Photos by Juan Jarquín
in a new region located in the in-between, Nejapa. Nestled in a fertile valley midway between the highland Valley of Oaxaca and the Pacific Ocean at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Nejapa was directly on the path of travelers for more than two millennia as they crossed between the highlands and the coast. Remarkably, the region has not been explored by archaeologists. “There’s a lot of great archaeology in Oaxaca,” King says, “so as a focus of study, this place has been neglected so far.” That oversight is King’s gain. After visiting more than 20 archaeological sites around Nejapa, she says the area is replete with “so many projects and mini-projects” that she could work there for several decades, if not the rest of her career. Among the sites she has explored is a series of terraces and mounded platforms near the rock fortification she scaled in
the mountains. The mounds indicate the placement of large houses or temples with plazas stretching between them. “It was just gorgeous and in great condition,” King says. “No one has lived or farmed there in hundreds of years.” As appealing as the site is, though, King intends to stay in the valley for now. She wants to be among the people, close to town. Her reasons are practical and political. Practically speaking, being visible goes a long way toward better working relationships with native townspeople, she says. Archaeology in Mexico is controlled by the national government, so indigenous peoples can be suspicious of the whole enterprise. They also generally distrust Americans. By showing up and making what she calls an “honest economic argument,” King says, so far she’s been accepted by the local community.
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 Stacie King, right, talks with Manual Saavedra, a resident of San José de Las Flores. Beside Saavedra are artifacts he has found on his plot of land (pictured here are two large manos used for grinding corn on stone slab and a smaller stone tool that might have been used for pounding or grinding chili).  King, behind the camera, and IU student Catherine O’Brien conduct oral history interviews with Javier Martínez about his experiences living in the Hacienda San José and working for the hacienda owner. His wife, daughter, and a neighbor are in the background listening. [ 3] Graciano Zarate, of Tavela, guides King’s hiking party through the mountaintop archaeological site of Tres Picachos.
“When I went there, I talked about my research and why Nejapa is an interesting place to address my questions,” she says. “But I also said that I have a job in the United States, and one of the things I can bring to the table is applying for research grants, which would enable me to hire local workers and support the local economy.” Her project’s economic impact will be short-lived, however, compared to what King sees as the political impact of her work. Archaeology, she says, is “political action,” by which she means activist and involved. “Archaeology is absolutely about the research question you are pursuing, but it’s also about the people whose lives you are studying,” says King. “It’s about understanding how indigenous people have endured, the history of their experiences, how their identities have been shaped over time. “It’s about working with people in the present, because they are the ones most closely connected to their past,” King says. “It’s their history.” The people’s stories According to King, networking with the living is a hallmark of 21st-century archaeology, which has shifted toward an em-
King recalls a particularly poignant story the man told. “One day, he was bringing a stack of clean plates into the dining room, and he tripped and fell,” she says. “He told me, ‘not a single plate broke, only my elbow.’ He was so proud that he didn’t break a single plate. It just hit me, the fear that must have gone through him when he started to fall.” A 19th-century hacienda and an old servant may not seem like the stuff of archaeology, but King insists that these things—the building and the man—are archaeological and historical treasures that deserve preservation and study. “What is coming out of my Nejapa research is that the archaeology extends from as early as 500 BCE all the way into the 1930s,” she says. “Indigenous history doesn’t just arbitrarily stop around 1520 when the Spanish arrived. The people’s stories, their histories, are sources of data just as much as any artifact I may dig up out of the ground. “I left that day realizing that the archaeological sites are going to be there for another 50 or 100 years, but he won’t,” she says of the former waiter. “He was so special, with such amazing stories to tell. I realized, this is where the work is, this is what needs to be recorded. Thankfully, the archaeology is there too, so we can put all of these things together and come up
“Indigenous history doesn’t just arbitrarily stop around 1520 when the Spanish arrived. The people’s stories, their histories, are sources of data just as much as any artifact I may dig up out of the ground.”
phasis on collaboration with descendant communities. One special day in Nejapa drove home this shift for King. While doing early reconnaissance for her new project, King asked some townspeople about potential sites. In response, the town’s administrative agent simply pointed across the street toward a derelict hacienda, its roof collapsed and its flooring overgrown with weeds. Built in the 1890s, the hacienda had been abandoned in the 1930s, just after the Mexican Revolution when property was being taken away from large landowners and redistributed. In the midst of the conversation, the town agent gestured toward an elderly man who was approaching and told King the man used to work at the hacienda. “I was floored,” King says. “When I started talking to the man, I learned that he’d come to the hacienda as a little boy and had worked there for many years, eventually as a waiter. He knew so much about the owners, how their business was run, what their lives were like.”
with a much richer history of what happened in this place.” With funding from IU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, King returned to Nejapa in 2008 with IU graduate Catherine O’Brien to record the oral histories of several elderly Nejapa residents, including the former waiter, who told King that he was adopted by the hacienda owner’s wife when he was about 3 years old. King returned to Nejapa in early 2009, with support from IU’s College Arts & Humanities Institute and IU’s New Frontier in the Arts and Humanities program. She has been mapping sites, beginning to record artifacts on the surface, and doing a lot of networking. “You can’t do archaeology without working with people in communities, and I’m eager to work with the people of Nejapa to see what we can build together,” King says. Just don’t look for her on the mountain ridge any time soon. Lauren J. Bryant is editor of Research & Creative Activity magazine.
Untangling the brain
magine the Internet, with its hundreds of millions of links and nodes. Now multiply that by a million. And then by another million, and so on to the 10th power, and then, maybe, you’d begin to approach the complexity of the network that is the human brain. Scientists and philosophers are fond of describing the human brain as the most complex object in the known universe (barring the existence of even more complex brains.) The brain is also surely the most complex network in creation. Neuroscientists estimate that a single cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains a billion connections between brain cells, or neurons. A mature human brain in its entirety contains around a million billion connections. Untangled, the wire axons that constitute the brain’s electrical infrastructure would stretch from the Earth to the moon. Add to that sheer volume of neural connections the fact that the wiring changes over time as the organ grows and develops, and the human brain emerges as not only the most complex network in the universe, but also as unique in its structure. In fact, every single brain is unique. Of the approximately six billion human brains on the planet, no two are exactly alike.
However structurally complex, though, a brain isn’t categorically different from other, more basic networks. “On the one hand, the brain is just a bunch of cells connected to each other with wires,” says Olaf Sporns, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. “On the other hand, the brain is the seat of things like thought, memory, emotion, and other high-level cognitive functions.” The ultimate question, Sporns says, is the connection between these two neural phenomena: How do we get from cells and wires to thought and memory? Many scientists have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to record which brain areas light up when people perform tasks, solve problems, and react to stimuli. While such studies have helped identify specific brain regions and assign them roles, they’ve done little to explain how the various parts of the brain communicate and work together. To begin solving this puzzle, Sporns and colleagues at Harvard University and in Switzerland used diffusion MRI technology to create the first-ever complete, high-resolution map of the brain’s neural architecture.
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by Jeremy Shere
Photo courtesy of College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington
On paper, the map looks like a densely woven web of crisscrossing fibers. Unscrambling and plotting out the brain’s tangled mesh of overlapping axons, Sporns says, is a key step toward developing computational models of the brain that will allow scientists to simulate and study Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases of the brain, as well as how the flow of electrical signals through the network gives rise to cognition, higher thought, and consciousness generally. “We don’t really have a good understanding of the architecture of the human brain, of what’s connected to what,” Sporns says. “Our brains are obviously important to human experience, but to understand how and why the brain makes us human, we need to investigate
brain functions such as higher thought remains largely unclear. For Sporns, though, neural patterns produced by idle brains reveal important clues about how the brain is wired and how its wiring generates and shapes brain function. The primary question, for Sporns, is where do the resting patterns come from? The answer, from a network approach, is that the patterns—and by extension all brain activity— derive from how the parts of the brain are wired. Our emotions, thoughts, feelings, impulses, sensations, everything that contributes to consciousness, ultimately trace back to patterns in the brain’s network and interactions between parts of the brain. But there’s no neural wireless router. Brain areas that are not physically connected by axons cannot communicate. Consequently, Sporns says, “patterns of interactions between brain regions—the flow of information in the brain—can be explained and predicted on the basis of the wiring.” The more wiring there is between brain regions, the more they interact and work together. Mapping the brain’s wiring has enabled Sporns to build a computational model of the brain—a simulation that, with further refinement, could allow researchers to conduct experiments not possible with live human brains, such as how the brain responds to lesions and why lesions in some parts of the brain are more disruptive than others. “In studies of other networks, like the Internet, the question is ‘how robust is it?’” Sporns says. “We can ask the same question of the brain. If we lose some nodes or suffer a lesion, can we predict the lesion’s impact and how the brain might recover?”
“We don’t really have a good understanding of the architecture of the human brain, of what’s connected to what. Our brains are obviously important to human experience, but to understand how and why the brain makes us human, we need to investigate and describe its wiring. We need to study the brain as a network.”
and describe its wiring. We need to study the brain as a network.”
The brain at rest To investigate the relationship between the brain as a jumble of wired neurons and the brain as the enabler of consciousness, Sporns and his colleagues began by studying how the brain behaves while idle, when we’re quietly awake but not engaged in a demanding mental task. Previous research had discovered patterns of neural activity characteristic of all brains at rest—a sort of “background noise” whose role in more complex
Network therapeutics One of the more promising aspects of Sporns’s research is its potential as a diagnostic tool. By mapping and comparing the neural networks of healthy people to those of people with autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders, scientists are beginning to find significant differences in the network architecture of diseased brains compared to healthy specimens. Although it’s often difficult to determine whether the altered network of a brain with Alzheimer’s, for example, is a cause of the disease or an effect, Sporns suspects that further research will reveal
A Triple Take on the Brain
Brain central Beyond its diagnostic potential, taking a network approach to neuroscience foregrounds larger questions, Sporns says, such as: “What is the most central, highly connected part of the brain?” Mapping the brain’s neural architecture—what Sporns calls the “connectome”—has revealed that, like many networks, the brain’s cerebral cortex has a hub, a palmsized core centered just below the crown, where the wiring between neurons is particularly dense. “We weren’t looking for it and hadn’t read or heard much about this region before,” Sporns says. “But we’ve now found previous research that showed, for example, that this is a part of the brain that’s strongly deactivated when we undergo some forms of anesthesia or otherwise become unconscious. So the hub may be involved with consciousness.” The hub straddles both brain hemispheres, suggesting that it plays an important role in facilitating communication between the left and right halves of the brain. In computational models, removing the hub significantly disrupts the flow of information between hemispheres. Sporns describes the region as an “integrator, where a lot of information comes together.” It’s neuroscience dogma, he says, that parts of the brain specialize in specific activities such as language, emotion, and sensory perception. But the newly discovered hub indicates that “most facets of cognition draw on many parts of the brain at once, not just some single aspect of sound or touch or memory.” Next steps Mapping the brain’s connecting axons is the first step toward understanding the brain as a network. But although further research will involve refining the technique to produce more detailed maps at higher resolutions, the goal is not necessarily to map the entire connectome, including every neuron and connecting fiber. “I compare it to making a map of leaves in a forest, mapping the position of individual leaves on millions and billions
Each of the neuroimages below shows a different, but intersecting, aspect of the brain’s architecture. This view highlights the fiber pathways of the human cerebral cortex. The pathways are linking regions all across the brain and across both cerebral hemispheres, here viewed from above (top = front).
This image is a more highly processed view, constructed from the raw fiber pathway data. It shows the network of connections in the human cortex, with lines between brain regions indicating the strengths of the connections.
Extracted from the data in the image above, this view of the human brain illustrates the location of highly connected hub nodes forming the structural core (red circles). The core is located in the ‘precuneus’, a region of the brain thought to be involved in memory and mental processing related to the self.
Images from Hagmann, P. et al. (2008) Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. PLoS Biology 6, e159, courtesy of Olaf Sporns.
of trees,” Sporns says. “But does that really help you understand the rain forest?” Instead, Sporns and his team are more interested in achieving an accurate global description of the network. With the help and input of other neuroscientists using similar techniques (the formulas Sporns used to analyze neural connections are available for free download on his Web site), Sporns is optimistic about what a network approach will reveal about the brain. “I can’t wait to see what kinds of data we’re going to gather,” he says. “We’re moving in a direction that’s very fruitful, and there’s a lot of excitement in the field about what network theory might bring to the table.”
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network abnormalities to be at the root of at least some brain disorders. “Some people have suggested that looking at brain networks might provide an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, based on mapping how different parts of the brain become active together,” Sporns says. Monitoring brain networks could also be used to track the success of a drug or treatment targeting particular brain areas. And assuming that neural networks are related to cognition, he says, “then if we track how brain networks are organized, we may be able to coax them back into a state that’s better organized and processes information more efficiently” in the case of a disease that disrupts thought and reasoning.
Jeremy Shere is a freelance writer in Bloomington, Ind.
Image from The Geometry Forum, http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/docs/forum/
Reassembling the elephant by Mary Hardin A group of blind men are curious about what an elephant looks like. They get permission from a zookeeper to go into the elephant cage to pet the animal. The blind man who touches the elephant’s leg reports, “The elephant is like a stout tree.” The blind man who touches the elephant’s trunk disagrees, “I think the elephant is similar to a very large snake.” No, says the
third blind man who feels the elephant’s tail, “an elephant is shaped like a rope.”
“You are all wrong,” says the fourth man touching the pachyderm’s side. “The elephant is like a wall.” The elephant-keeper is puzzled when he gets their reports, knowing that the elephant is the sum of many parts.
Pieces, patterns, and personalized medicine CSBPM co-director Sunil S. Badve understands the frustrations of the clinicians and of the basic science researchers. A surgical pathologist by profession, Badve also is director of the translational genomics core at the IU School of Medicine and a primary pathologist for breast cancer research. “Until recently, cancer was cancer,” says Badve. “Technology has advanced, and now we look at hundreds of markers, thousands of markers, at a time. We know the whole genome. So the question is, are there differences in tumor A versus tumor B when it is the same kind of cancer? And, can we exploit those differences for therapy purposes? Is type A cancer more responsive to a certain type of chemotherapy? “That is the basis of personalized medicine,” he continues.
“Each person has an unusual tumor regardless of whether it is breast or colon or lung cancer, and each unusual tumor needs to be treated according to the characteristics of that tumor.” Badve explores the possibilities for personalized medicine from a number of angles. He is involved in research looking at a “13-gene signature” that determines the likelihood of brain metastasis in a subset of breast cancer patients. In another study, he and his colleagues are looking at gene replication in a 21-gene signature within a tumor to determine if there is a way to definitely tell whether the cancer will recur. While Badve is busy looking at gene expression, Mu Wang, a CSBPM co-director and founding member, is tracking the actions of proteins in cells. His field is proteomics — a field developed after the genome was mapped. Wang’s lab looks at how DNA damage occurs and how it can be repaired using biomarkers that someday will indicate if a tumor will be responsive to a particular drug. The strength of this kind of science, and its success, says Badve, lies in the group’s ability to look at the parts of the cell as a team and then put it all back together in a manner that reveals patterns. “Essentially, if Jake [Chen] can get the data from Mu and myself and start modeling the data on a computer, he can develop a hypothesis on what interacts with what, and why one therapy might be better than the others for targeting. That is really the entire reason different branches come together and work on personalized medicine,” Badve says. “People with disparate backgrounds coming together under one roof can solve problems,” Badve adds. In a nutshell, that is why CSBPM was created — to bring various specialists together to talk about their science and capitalize on their varied research to develop individualized treatments for patients. “We have both challenges and opportunities,” notes Chen. “Interdisciplinary and translational research is natural when you have a very good medical school and very good people with complementary expertise. When you start, though, it does take time to establish collaborations among researchers who share similar visions. Not everyone is on the same page from the beginning.” The fourth co-director and founding member of the CSBPM is Yaoqi Zhou. A professor of informatics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, Zhou is director of the bioinformatics program in the IU School of Informatics. As a member of the CSBPM team, his role is to investigate molecular sequences, structures, functions, and their relationships with molecular interaction interfaces. Holism, HAPPI, and hubs As the work of the CSBPM members demonstrates, medicine and medical research are quickly moving away from solidly defined approaches rooted in classical biochemistry or genetics or any of the other established biomedical fields of study. Today, the holistic study of biological domains, referred to as “systems
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ike the elephant’s exploration, so goes the study of the human cell. To get the big picture, you must look at all the parts through the lenses of proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics — a suite of scientific research techniques known to insiders as simply “omics.” Jake Y. Chen, founding director of the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine, sees his job as keeper of the elephant. Using the latest in information technology, his role is to take the trunk, tail, leg, and sides, and reassemble the elephant. Chen is an assistant professor of informatics and computer science and a specialist in translational systems biology, network biology, and biocomputing, all of which are new fields to medical research. He was recruited to the Indiana University School of Medicine in January 2004. His background is working with scientists who look at protein-protein interactions in human cells. Chen computerizes the data, creates programs to scrutinize it, and then creates “maps” of protein-protein interactions to analyze their function. The goal is to see all the interactions of the cells in one big picture so the parts can be assessed first individually and, then, most important, as a complex interactive cellular system. “The idea of examining complex systems and networks and pathways has been emphasized on this campus,” Chen says of IU’s Indianapolis campus where the School of Medicine is based. “But when you work with the researchers who perform omics studies, you often feel their frustration because they are unable to put together all the data — tens of thousands of pieces of individual measurements — at the same time.” Data that complex demand some form of organization. That’s where Chen’s expertise is invaluable. “Having a molecular map to organize and analyze the interpretation of the results for multiple omics platforms becomes critical,” he says. The ability to dig deeper into the inner workings of the human cell, to understand everything a cell has to say, is important to clinical researchers as well as scientists in the laboratory. Both types of researchers are active members of the CSBPM.
Photo courtesy of IUPUI Office of Communications and Marketing
Photo by Rocky Rothrock [ L E F T ] Jake Chen is the founding director of the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine.
Sunil S. Badve is the co-director of the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine.
biology,” is critical for curing complex disease effectively, hopefully sooner than later. Chen says the CSBPM will be especially beneficial to three groups at IU’s medical center: clinicians, biomedical researchers interested in using omics platforms, and computational biologists who are studying molecules, proteins, and DNA structures. As an example, Chen cites the collaborative work being done in lung cancer, a disease with high incidence and recurrence rates. IU has a strong clinical research team in lung cancer to support the research, he says. Samples of plasma are collected from lung cancer patients to compare the proteomics profiles before and after chemotherapy is given. “We are looking at a collection of proteins in the plasma,” Chen explains. “Those proteins are compared to a control group collected from patients without cancer who visit the pulmonary clinic for other reasons. If the chemotherapy is having a therapeutic effect on the lung cancer patient, the patient’s profile should be moving in the general direction of something similar to normal. “The idea is straightforward, but it turns out that proteomics technology is limited in its capability to see all the proteins in blood,” Chen continues. “These types of limitations are inherent in an omics-based approach. So we apply bioinformatics techniques, including network biology and literature data-mining, to incorporate prior knowledge into the interpretation of results. We would be able to see more of the significant signals, despite the confusing ‘noises’ that are also visible.” One of the first cross-discipline studies for colorectal cancer in the nation is being done by researchers at Purdue University and IU School of Medicine through a Department of Defense grant obtained by Stephen Williams, the recently deceased director of the IU Simon Cancer Center, and colleagues. The goal is to find potential markers that can help diagnose colorectal cancer early. The omics technologies in this study are an alphabet soup — glycoproteomics, metableomics, SNIP analysis, functional genomics — but they illustrate the advantages of working together to uncover patterns.
IU School of Informatics Assistant Professor Pedro Romero is working with Chen to develop a tool called the Human CyC, a comprehensive human metabolic pathway database to map the discoveries from various omics researchers. Chen says another tool called HAPPI (human annotated predicted protein interaction database) provides a map for protein-protein interactions. By merging the two databases, the CSBPM will be able to integrate results of metabolic and protein-protein signaling, a huge asset in understanding cellular pathways. The third group of researchers interested in networking with CSBPM are those who are studying the molecules, protein, and DNA structures to examine emerging patterns that could be targets for drug therapy. This approach is different from the traditional one where only one or two molecules are examined, hence the name “network pharmacology.” Keith Dunker, director of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and professor of informatics, biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology at the IU School of Medicine, is interested in groups of proteins (hubs) that interact or bind to similar proteins. The researchers look at hub networks to see if they are preferential for drug design. By using the hubs, scientists can screen more proteins to find ones that fit the network pharmacology criteria as potential targets for specific drugs. Hubs are promising for predicting the toxicology of a drug, says Chen. Beyond the elephant Initially funded by an IUPUI Signature Center Initiative Grant, the CSBPM continues to seek local, regional, and federal funding to further their collaborations. It’s the two heads are better than one theory. “A lot of success is knowing the right people,” Badve says. “If you know the right person who knows the right technique, it makes life so much easier.” Collaborating to delve deeper into the cellular world of human anatomy is a means to an end for the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine. Networking among scientists striving to develop better treatments for disease makes an elephant an elephant and not a series of parts. Mary Hardin is a media manager for the IU School of Medicine Office of Public and Media Relations.
by Jeremy Shere
ll life on earth, from amoebas to complex mammals, begins as a single cell. For all but the simplest creatures, that one cell gives rise to a vast array of tissues—everything from blood to brains. And for the most highly evolved animals, those solitary cells contain the very seeds of consciousness itself. But how? What processes and mechanisms allow and encourage cells to differentiate as they divide, so that some group together to form the heart, others the brain, liver, lungs, bones, muscles, and so on? The answer, biological science tells us, lies in our genes. The human genome, to take just one example, contains around 32,000 genes. Of these, some produce proteins that function to “turn on” and “turn off” other genes in a given cell, and, in this way, determine the cell’s type. These socalled “regulatory genes,” in other words, are responsible for cell differentiation. Biologists are just beginning to unravel how the diversity of cell types and tissues that comprise multicellular organisms derive from complex genetic regulatory networks.
“We don’t know how complex the system gets,” says Justen Andrews, an Indiana University biologist and genomicist. “We’ve mapped a few of the pathways, but people make careers out of unraveling just one or two regulatory networks.” Andrews, who is assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences and project leader for the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at IU Bloomington, has focused his career on two problems at opposite ends of the gene regulatory spectrum. On one end, he’s part of an interdisciplinary effort to map the genetic network in its entirety; at the other, he is working to map a single pathway responsible for the development of sex cells in fruit flies. Taken together, Andrews’s research is part of a global effort in biology to uncover how genes shape the nature and development of life. Genes regulating genes To describe how complex an organism-wide gene regulatory network can be, Andrews sketches a simple diagram on a piece of scrap paper.
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What Our Genes Do
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“Here’s regulatory gene A, which switches on or off genes B, C, D, and E,” he says, drawing an A surrounded by arrows pointing to the other letters, indicating a direct regulatory relationship between the genes. “But now let’s imagine that genes C and D are themselves regulators that control the activity of the genes T, U, V, W, X and Y, some of which also regulate other genes.” Soon, the diagram of letters and arrows resembles a wildly branching bush badly in need of trimming. Add in the fact that the regulatory pathways of a given gene can differ depending on the type of its host cell, and gene regulatory networks seem impossibly complex. Andrews points out that geneticists have had success at identifying master regulatory genes. Working with fruit flies, scientists have been able to isolate genes responsible for big, flashy mutations such as legs sprouting from the fly’s head instead of antennae, flies lacking eyes, or flies with four wings instead of two. But these master regulators comprise only a small percentage of the entire array of genes in a fruit fly, let alone in a human being. Andrews is trying to map all of the functional relationships between genes in the fly. Working in an interdisciplinary team including Mehmet Dalkilic, IU associate professor of informatics, and graduate student James Costello, Andrews and his colleagues are gathering and integrating all the functional genomics data generated by the research community. This data forms the basis of a large functional gene network where connections between pairs of genes indicate that they share a common function within cells. “We have built the first comprehensive functional gene network in flies with over 20,000 connections between genes,” Andrews says. “We have predicted the functions of hundreds of previously uncharacterized genes, which will provide other researchers with valuable clues about where to direct their future studies.”
it’s also simple enough to study and maintain.” Most significant, for Andrews, the fruit-fly genome consists of a relatively manageable 14,000 genes. Still, the task of identifying the function of each gene, and the relationships between genes, is exacting work. On the minute end of the gene regulatory spectrum, Andrews focuses on fruit-fly genes known to play an important role in regulating genes involved with making eggs. One reason he studies these cells, Andrews says, is because “germ cells are set aside early in the development of the embryo and from that point have only two possible fates: becoming either a sperm cell or an egg cell.” But determining how germ cells are made to go in one direction or the other remains challenging, in part because the cells are also influenced by cells from the rest of the body. The ultimate challenge for Andrews and his lab colleagues is to map how the genetic material in germ cells regulates the cells’ development. So far they’ve focused on ovo, a gene that plays a regulatory role in the development of sex cells. Ovo is required for germ cells to become female and to make eggs. Ovo produces two proteins: one that activates the genes regulated by ovo and another that turns them off. Depending on how ovo flips the genetic switches, a germ cell develops as either male or female. Exactly how ovo works and the regulatory pathways through which it functions remain mysterious, but Andrews does know that ovo plays a central role in how sex cells develop. “We know that ovo is required in an embryo for the survival of germ cells in females,” Andrews says. “In an adult ovary, if ovo is missing, then there are defects in the process of cell differentiation, and you end up with abnormal eggs. If we breed a female fly with an ovo gene that expresses the activator protein but not the repressor protein, that fly can lay an egg, but the fly that’s born from the egg has no germ cells at all. In effect, it’s sterile.”
Single pathways Andrews’s laboratory is full of flies. On a desk in his office in Myers Hall, hundreds of fruit flies flit around inside carefully labeled glass vials, each containing a strain of fly bred to carry and exhibit a particular mutation. Across the hall, several large, refrigerator-sized incubators house thousands of live specimens. (IU is internationally known as a hub of fruit fly research and resources, including the Drosophila Stock Center and the Drosophila Genomics Resource Center, which distribute flies and molecular resources to scientists around the world.) Like many genomicists, Andrews relies heavily on the fruit fly, or Drosophila melanogaster, for his research. “Drosophila sits at a nice point in the evolutionary tree,” Andrews says. “It’s complex enough to have a nervous system, muscles, digestive system, and other features you find in higher organisms, but
Wider implications Although Andrews and fellow scientists have made significant progress during the past decade, the study of gene regulatory networks is still in its infancy. Somewhere down the line, discoveries made in Andrews’s lab and in genetics research centers around the world may lead to practical applications for diagnosing and treating genetic disorders. At the moment, though, science is taking only the first steps in that direction. For Andrews, those early steps are fascinating. “Usually what makes headlines is when the story is solved, like when the human genome sequence was completed,” he says. “But that was only the beginning of a much larger and more complicated process of understanding what our genes do and how they relate to each other. The deeper we delve into it, the more complex it is.” Jeremy Shere is a freelance writer in Bloomington, Indiana.
by Jennifer Piurek
From physics to fine arts One of the pieces of rapid prototyping equipment Jacquard uses to create her work is a 3-D color printer previously owned by IU’s Cyclotron Facility. The printer was recently purchased by AVL/UITS (Advanced Visualization Lab/University Information Technology Services) and is now housed at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts in Bloomington. While the cyclotron used rapid prototyping technology
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Wax on, wax off Trained as a traditional jeweler in her hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, more than 20 years ago, Jacquard would spend hours carving the jeweler’s vision out of wax. “If I was designing for a client, I would come out and give them this blue piece
of wax and say ‘This is going to be made out of gold. It’s going to be beautiful,’” she says, laughing. “If you design it on the computer, you can show them renderings in gold or platinum, you can add rubies, you can add diamonds. It’s a much easier translation for people than a hunk of wax, even if you’ve carved it exquisitely. You can also cut down on the guessing in terms of varying market price.” But while CAD and CAM help cut down on guesswork, Jacquard makes it clear that there’s still plenty of room for error. “There’s a big misconception in that most people think it’s just click a button and then your piece comes out. I would love if that would really happen, but things don’t always translate that well from the software to reality.” Pieces can come out weighted improperly or with the wrong color, she says, adding that the post-production process, including sanding and finishing, takes just as long as it does on a traditional model. “Like a good architect, an artist using these programs has to know materials and processes. You can have a beautiful piece, but it has to work in reality.”
Photo by Shelley Given
er work ranges from delicate silver drop earrings to a massive boat model inspired by her fisherman cousins from Michigan, but Nicole Jacquard’s art usually begins in the same place: on the computer screen. For much of her career, the School of Fine Arts professor at Indiana University Bloomington created her art in a more traditional fashion—first, sketching, followed by models in wax or paper to see how well the concept worked; creation of the final product; and finally, post-production sanding, finishing, painting, and tweaking. If she was making multiples of an object, Jacquard had to create each one in painstaking detail, and often, the finished model would clue her in to some minor flaw that would require her to start all over again. She still sketches out her ideas on paper initially, but now, using programs such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Machining (CAM), and Rapid Prototyping (RP) technology—programs and tools that Jacquard likens to the gadgets aboard the Star Trek Enterprise — she can turn her concepts into three-dimensional objects. These computerized techniques not only present new possibilities for the creative process, she says, they also have the potential to change the visual arts as we know them.
exclusively for nuclear physics applications, Jacquard uses it to create and duplicate art, making multiples of objects with relative ease and trying out various designs and materials on screen without wasting precious time and resources. Technically, rapid prototyping acts like some futuristic machine imagined by Isaac Asimov (or maybe the creator of “The Jetsons”). A design on the computer screen becomes a tangible object through a variety of additive processes (processes that build an object by joining particles or layers of raw material, such as photopolymer, thermoplastic, and adhesives). Nicole’s recent work using the 3-D color printer lays down thin layers of gypsum powder (similar to drywall plaster) along with a binder and colored ink. When the pieces are removed, they’re saturated with a liquid glue to make the surface more durable. This process cuts down on wasted materials, and the unused powder can be recycled. Essentially, the 3-D printer and modeling on the computer allows artists to try out nearly limitless designs and color combinations on screen before committing to them in real life.
No computer person Employing such high-tech equipment is an unexpected turn for a contemporary jeweler with no particular inclination toward computers. “I’m definitely not a ‘computer person,’” says Jacquard. “I wasn’t one of those people who spent hours at the video arcade as a kid. When I first went to Australia [to RMIT University in Melbourne on a Fulbright in 1995], I didn’t even know what an e-mail attachment was!”
A professor at University of Michigan, where Jacquard received her first master’s degree, introduced her to the concept of using the software application Rhinoceros 3D, commonly referred to as Rhino, as a vehicle for the creative process. (Rhino provides uninhibited, free-form, on-screen 3-D modeling tools.) Jacquard soon became intrigued by the possibilities of rapid prototyping technology for the creation of art. “At the time, I was making these compacts and picture frames. I was drawing them all out by hand and then sending them to the plastic manufacturer, and they would import them into CAD and cut them all out,” she says. “I thought ‘Wow, my life could be so much easier if I’d just learn a simple program.’” Years later, when she was back in Australia working toward her Ph.D. at RMIT University, Jacquard learned about the rapid prototyping technology being used at the IU Cyclotron Facility. Invaluable networks As her doctoral research focused her attention on using computer-aided technology in her studio practice, Jacquard realized she would need to forge her own path. For one thing, she didn’t even have a computer to use at the time. “I was starting from scratch,” she says. “It really makes you find out your abilities in terms of networking, making connections with outside industry as well as other universities. Networks have been completely invaluable during this process for discovering how people share and grow and give information, as well as for learning about their disciplines.” While much of Jacquard’s work is characterized by networks of fine lines, it’s the social networks with colleagues
Photo by Kevin Mooney
Nicole Jacquard and student Joshua Craig, left, remove a 3-D object from the rapid prototyping machine in the IU School of Fine Arts Sculpture Department.
hands to the computer. “There can be a disconnect, but creating work using CAD and producing work through CAM and RP equipment is a much more involved process than just pressing a button,” she says. “If it was that easy, we would be overrun with artists pressing buttons.” From personal objects to Pottery Barn art In 2005, Jacquard and former IU Cyclotron Director Paul Sokol co-wrote a successful application for a New Frontiers for the Arts and Humanities grant from IU that led to initial experiments with the IUCF’s 3-D color printer and rapid prototyping machinery. The result of Jacquard’s experiments with the technology was a body of work and solo exhibition titled “Personal Ob-
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from multiple disciplines that support her creative process. In 2008, Jacquard was named one of three faculty fellows at IU’s new Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities. In that capacity, she worked collaboratively with other faculty fellows — Jeffrey Hass, a professor of composition at the Jacobs School of Music, and John Walsh, an assistant professor at the School of Library and Information Science — to enhance her understanding of digital tools, prepare prototypes for major projects, and develop and submit grant proposals for external funding. One large-scale project that may result from the collaboration is a new facility on campus for CAD, CAM, and RP research. Jacquard hopes to return to Australia soon to teach, then invite the students to IU for a year-long exchange culminating in an exhibition and publication. She also has been involved in cross-disciplinary collaborations, such as working with doctoral student Bill Wyatt from the Department of Kinesiology in IU’s School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation on a project in which a person’s hand and computer mouse are scanned and then fused together in a 3-D program. Other projects include working with Barbara Young from the Design Studies program, where Jacquard presented a lecture and, in response, students designed a part of the Smith Research Center to include a facility for innovative technology. Several ideas were presented by the students at critiques four weeks later, providing Jacquard with a working plan for space she will use in the future. Jacquard says she often gets asked about the “disconnect” that comes from moving the creative process from one’s own
Photo by Shelley Given
jects: Personal Spaces.” The exhibition displayed utilitarian objects such as cups and bowls that reflected the overall idea of daily ceremony and ritual. Jacquard’s interest in how personal objects often become valuable as collectibles or souvenirs has remained a common thread in her recent work. More recently, she and her partner, Dolan Cleverley, have used CAM technology to produce a series of fishing-line bobbers mounted on panels that evoke expensive wallpaper. The work addresses the concept of the souvenir and the sentimental attachment people place on often mundane objects. These “bobbers as wall art” also address what Jacquard calls the “Pottery Barn art” phenomenon, in which mass produced paintings and prints are offered up for sale with accompanying descriptions befitting Seinfeld’s J. Peterman catalogue With glass bobbers once commonly used by Alaskan fishermen popping up in antique shops, says Jacquard, she wonders how long it will take before the Tide detergent bottles and milk jugs many fishermen now use for net buoys will be considered valuable antiques. “This whole idea of what’s popular and what’s kitschy that makes it into the antique store is interesting to me,” she says. An expanded curriculum Beyond using CAD, CAM, and RP technologies herself, Jacquard hopes to make such programs part of the required core curriculum for IU’s fine arts students. She has been teaching students a course in CAD, but Jacquard is less interested in teaching a programming class than in working with students on the program’s practical applications. In the future, she would like to see a class that covers the basics of software programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator/InDesign, and a 3-D modeling program in a single semester. “It would give our students invaluable skills at the introductory level,” she says. “A basic knowledge of these computer programs would enable them not only to document their work, make their own catalogues, and send off applications to galleries or exhibitions, but also to adapt a new methodology using
the tools of their generation to create tangible artifacts. I think it would really give our students the advantage, facilitate more advanced projects, and would add to their overall development within the arts.” Now a few years into her immersion in computer-aided design work, Jacquard has stayed true to her personal design aesthetic. Her overriding goal is that her work not be dictated by the computer, she says. “Yes, it’s made with a computer, but I can spend just as much time programming something and making it on the computer as I can making it by hand,” she says. “At first I thought of it as a tool that I could use, but now I’m really immersed in the medium and the particular materials you can only get through rapid prototyping [such as gypsum powder].” While cost will likely delay the adoption of this equipment in many artists’ studios, Jacquard hopes that it will eventually become more affordable and that more university art programs will incorporate CAD/CAM and RP classes into their curricula. For now, Jacquard hopes to inspire students to learn how these programs can expand what’s possible in their work. “Some students have this notion that you have to be good at math to do this or have some kind of programming background, and I’m the perfect example that you don’t. I didn’t have any training at all,” Jacquard says. “What I hope is that my work is indicative of my thought process and how I handle my overall aesthetic in general. That’s the ultimate goal. It’s about having the technology inform, rather than dictate, the work.” Jennifer Piurek is an assistant managing editor and media specialist in the Office of University Communications in Bloomington. More information
Photo by Shelley Given
Networks, Old School
[ M arch 12, 1954 ]
Grace Livingston (right), a relief telephone operator for Campus Telephone Services, makes network connections for the Indiana University community. In 1954, there were approximately 51 million telephones in the United States. By 2008, the number of landline telephones in the country was slightly more than 140 million, according to the FCC, while the number of wireless subscribers reached nearly 263 million. Sources: CTIA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry; Federal Communications Commission; image courtesy of Indiana University Archives
“Magnetic Resonance Music” the second movement from The Nature of Human In The Nature of Human, a multimedia composition of digital sound, video projection, and dance, Indiana University collaborators Jeffrey Hass, Elizabeth Shea, and Robert Shakespeare “explored the three facets of human existence: mind, body, and spirit,” says choreographer Shea. The video frame above is extracted from “Magnetic Resonance Music,” the composition’s second movement. Describing the second movement, Hass, the composer, says, “While contemplating the ‘body’ portion of the piece, I underwent my first MRI. Stuffed into a small tube, admonished not to move in any way, but having a horrible desire to itch, I tried to turn my focus toward the bizarre, strident, extremely loud noises and complex rhythms the machine was making and how they might be incorporated into a musical composition. With the addition of a few ‘beat’ elements, ‘Magnetic Resonance Music’ was born during my brain scan.” The composition’s lighting design and scenography involved infrared light and infrared cameras, interactive software, and projection. “The exploration of virtual scenography in live performance is rapidly expanding as new technologies become available to the arts,” says scenographer Shakespeare. “We are contributing to a new world of live performance scenography.” Credits: Image courtesy of Jeffrey Hass, professor, Jacobs School of Music, director of the Center for Electronic and Computer Music, and Fellow in the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities. The Nature of Human: music and video by Jeffrey Hass; choreography by Elizabeth Shea, clinical assistant professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; lighting design and scenography by Robert Shakespeare, professor of lighting design in the Department of Theatre and Drama, College of Arts and Sciences. Dancers from the Indiana University Contemporary Dance Theatre.
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Published on Apr 1, 2011
Research & Creative Activity magazine is intended to stiumulate greater awareness of and appreciation for the diverse scholarly and creative...