Bucket Course October 18|Network Science: making sense of complex interactions


Nicole Eikmeier, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Grinnell College, will present the next Bucket Course lecture entitled “Network Science: making sense of complex interactions” on October 18 in the Caulkins Room of the Drake Community Library. Admission is free and open to the public.

Regarding the lecture Eikmeier says, “We will explore the science of how things spread through the lens of Network Science. Network Science is an emergent interdisciplinary field with experts across disciplines of science and social sciences. Researchers in this field study complex connections of people or things, such as social networks or biological networks. We will start with the fundamentals: a description of a network and its components, different measurements we can consider on networks, and questions we can ask about them. Then we will move to case studies where we will use Network Science tools to understand the world around us.”

Eikmeier hopes attendees will gain a deeper understanding of real-life phenomena such as the spread of disease or the spread of misinformation. “I enjoy thinking about networks because they allow us to understand many phenomena of human interaction,” she says. “Network science has lots of disciplinary interests as well – I’m interested in the math behind networks; others are interested in epidemiological applications (such as the spread of disease) or social applications (how humans interact with each other). It’s a topic that can be accessed from many different angles and will push the audience to rethink the world around them.”

Prior to coming to Grinnell in 2019, Eikmeier completed her Ph.D. in Mathematics at Purdue University. She conducts research in the field of Network Analysis, specifically focused on studying features of real data and constructing and analyzing graph models which maintain those features. Eikmeier was recently awarded the Harris Faculty Fellowship for the 2022-2023 school year. Her research included a publication with two Grinnell student co-authors on generating synthetic graph data quickly, Functional Ball Dropping: A superfast hypergraph generation scheme, published in IEEE Big Data as well as a publication studying spectral clustering, Nonbacktracking Spectral Clustering of Nonuniform Hypergraphs, published in the SIAM Journal on Mathematics of Data Science.

Members of the sponsoring Community Education Cooperative include Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Grinnell College, Drake Community Library, Grinnell-Newburg School District, Grinnell Area Arts Council, Mayflower Community, Grinnell Education Partnership, Read to Lead, and Iowa Valley Community College. Videos of previous Bucket Courses are available on the YouTube channel Grinnell Community Education Cooperative.