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What: Symposium on the Science of Stories
Where: Burlington Vermont USA
When: Oct. 15-17, 2018

Symposium on the Science of Stories

  • Agenda
    Monday 15 October
    Peter Dodds - The Science of Stories
    Participant Introductions
    Chris Danforth - The science of stories and sentiment analysis
    Mohit Iyyer - Applications of deep learning to narrative understanding
    Mirta Galesic - Communicating Complex Data to the Public
    Welcome Reception upstairs balcony - Echo Center Aquarium
  • Logistics

    Symposium Location:
    ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
    1 College St
    Vermont 05401

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    Symposium Organizer

    Juniper Lovato
    Director of Outreach for Complex Systems
    UVM Complex Systems Center

    802.656.7839 (office)
    505.603.2215 (cell)

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    • General: Early Bird $2,403 (After Early Bird: $2,603)
    • Academic, Non-profit, Government: Early Bird $1,363 (After Early Bird: $1,563)
    • Student/Educator/UVM Affiliates: Early Bird $843 (After Early Bird: $1,043)

    Early Bird pricing ends July 20, 2018

    We aim for this course to be an intimate experience, space is very limited and is available first-come-first-served.

    A limited number of partial waivers will be given on the basis of merit and need (please contact

  • Faculty Bios

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    Jim Bagrow
    Information flow on networks

    University of Vermont
    Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Assistant Professor

    Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).

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    Fritz Breithaupt
    The telephone game - what elements persevere in a narrative

    Professor, Germanic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

    Fritz Breithaupt is professor of Germanic Studies, adjunct professor in Comparative Literature, and affiliated professor of Cognitive Science at Indiana University. He has published six books, co-edited four volumes, and has published about 50 full-length articles. His latest books provide humanities responses to work in cognitive science, addressing issues of empathy, narrative thinking, and moral reasoning. For example, he suggests that human empathy typically involves three (and not two) people. By training, he is a comparatist. His work on Goethe and the romantics, as well as on European literature and philosophy since 1740 is ongoing. He also runs a lab, the Experimental Humanities Lab, in which he uses methods of story retelling to develop a corpus of basic narratives. At Indiana University, he has served as chair of the department, was the director of the West European Studies Institute, was a co-founder of an official EU-Center of Excellence, interim dean of the Hutton Honors College, and served as acting director of several other institutes, such as the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies. He has received many honors and distinctions for his work, including an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellowship and was the first Distinguished Remak Scholar at Indiana University. He writes frequently for the German press, especially Die Zeit and Zeit Campus. When he is not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family or catches up to his fellow cyclists.

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    Chris Danforth
    The science of stories and sentiment analysis

    University of Vermont, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Flint Professor of Mathematical, Natural, and Technical Sciences

    Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.

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    Peter Dodds
    Introduction to the Science of Stories

    Director, Vermont Complex Systems Center

    Dodds's research focuses on system-level, big data problems in many areas including language and stories, sociotechnical systems, Earth sciences, biology, and ecology. His foundational funding was an NSF CAREER award granted to study sociotechnical phenomena (2009-2015). Together with Chris Danforth, he co-runs the Computational Story Lab.

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    Vanessa Ferdinand
    Forces that change culturally-transmitted data sets over time and how culture emerges from interacting individuals and is continually reshaped by them.

    Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Fe Institute

    An early interest in human genetic evolution led Vanessa to study anthropology, where she came to appreciate that culture itself evolves, and it may do so outside of direct genetic control. Cultural artifacts, such as language, music, and technology, survive and replicate by passing from mind to mind, and this makes cognition the locus of cultural change. Further study of cognitive science gave her the computational and experimental tools to study cognitive biases as the driving forces behind cultural evolutionary change. Because artifacts and behaviors are never directly copied, but are always reverse engineered via repeated cycles of perception, processing, and production, cognitive biases create selection pressures on culture. Her PhD addressed language as a prime example of a culturally evolving system and focused on the selective elimination of variation in language, known as regularization, as well as identified special concerns in modeling drift of cultural artifacts over time. Currently, she is working on appropriate baseline models of drift in culturally evolving systems and exploring the coevolutionary dynamics of culture and cognition.

    She holds a PhD in language evolution from the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Simon Kirby and Kenny Smith, a MSc in cognitive science from the University of Amsterdam, supervised by Jelle Zuidema, and dual-major BA in anthropology and linguistics from the University of Georgia. She attended SFI's Complex Systems Summer School in 2012.

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    Mirta Galesic
    Communicating Complex Data to the Public

    Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute and Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany

    Galesic studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce seemingly complex social phenomena.

    Her projects include modeling and collecting data on social judgments and social learning, agent-based models of evolution of cooperation, developing theoretical sampling framework for understanding environmental uncertainty, finding simple rules for navigating complex financial environments, and communicating medical risks to the general public using different information formats.

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    Mohit Iyyer
    Applications of deep learning to narrative understanding.

    UMass Amherst, Assistant professor; AI2, Young Investigator at AI2

    My main research interest is in designing deep neural networks for both traditional NLP tasks as well as new problems that involve understanding creative language.

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    Sylvia Morelli
    Empathy and Social Connection in Story

    Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Director of the Empathy and Social Connection Lab.

    Dr. Sylvia Morelli is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Director of the Empathy and Social Connection Lab. She received her BA in Psychology from Princeton University and PhD from UCLA. Prior to joining UIC, Dr. Morelli worked in the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab and explored whether positive empathy (i.e., our ability to share and understand others’ positive emotions) promotes prosocial behavior, social connection, and well-being. She uses a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, laboratory experiments, daily experience sampling, and social network analyses. Overall, her research aims to broaden our understanding of empathy and demonstrate its critical role in promoting well-being and positive social relationships.

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    Timothy Tangherlini
    Folklore and Cultural Analytics

    Professor, The Scandinavian Section and Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA

    Timothy R. Tangherlini is a Professor in the Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures, and in the Scandinavian Section. His research and teaching focus on folklore. He is the co-editor of Nationalism and the Construction of Korean Identity (1999 with Hyung-il Pai) and Sitings: Critical Approaches to Korean Geography (2008 with Sallie Yea). He is also the co-producer of Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002 with Stephen Epstein). He is the English language editor of the Encyclopedia of Korean Seasonal Customs (2010 with Ria Chae).

    His current work focuses on computation and the humanities.
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    Additions to speaker list coming soon!

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    Symposium Organizer

    Juniper Lovato
    Director of Outreach for Complex Systems
    UVM Complex Systems Center


    At the Vermont Complex Systems Center, Juniper works across generations and geographical limits to make resources and knowledge on cutting-edge complexity science more accessible to those with a hunger and curiosity for learning and exploration. Juniper came to Burlington in 2018. She previously served as the Director of Education for the Santa Fe Institute, an independent complexity science research center. She is also a co-founder of MAKE Santa Fe, a not-for-profit community makerspace in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Juniper received her Master’s in the Western Classics from St. John’s College in 2013 where she completed a thesis on the nature of pleasure in work in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.
  • Participant Bios
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    Coming soon!

  • Further Reading
    • Coming Soon!
  • Restaurant Guide

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    • Hen of the Wood - Farm to Table - 55 Cherry Street Burlington Vermont M-SU 5-10PM. Reservations suggested. $$$
    • Honey Road - Middle Eastern Cuisine - 156 Church St Burlington, VT 05401 M-SU 4-9PM. Reservations suggested. $$
    • Four Corners of the Earth - Amazing Gourmet Sandwiches - 310 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401 TH-S 12-10PM SU 12-6 M12-4PM. $$
    • Monarch & the Milkweed - Cocktails, Brunch and Bakery - M-SU 8AM-11PM. $$
    • Juniper Bar & Restaurant - American Cuisine - 41 Cherry St Burlington, VT 05401 M-SU 7AM-2PM 5-10PM. $$
    • Misery Loves Company - Cocktails and Farm to Table Cuisine. 46 Main St Winooski, VT 05404. T-F 3-10PM S 10AM-10PM SU 10SM-2PM. $$


    • Zero Gravity - Brewery - 716 Pine St Burlington, VT 05401 SU-TH 12-9PM F-S 12-10PM
    • Foam - Brewery - 112 Lake St Burlington, VT 05401 M-TH 12-9PM S-SU 12-11PM SU 12-7PM
    • Switchback - Brewery - 160 Flynn Ave Burlington, VT 05406 M-S 11AM-8PM SU 11am-7PM
    • Magic Hat - Brewery - 5 Bartlett Bay Rd South Burlington, VT 05403 M-S 11AM-7PM SU 12-5PM


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