Introducing our fourth student cohort

Hello! We are the fourth cohort of the CDT Data Analytics & Society program. Navigating our first semester on this integrated masters and PhD course has been a very different experience, but we have adapted successfully to online teaching. We have found it challenging as a cohort to connect, considering many of us have never even met in person!

Our first module was named Programming for Social Scientists with The University of Leeds. This was a two-week intensive module taught by Andy Turner who brought our group together, as well as equipping us with the necessary Python programming skills which our PhD projects will require. Even though this two-week intensive course tested our limits, we can all agree we gained valuable skills including introduction to Agent Based Modelling, creating our own website and learning how to use GitHub. We began our social research modules taught by our home universities – either Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool or Manchester. Since our undergraduate backgrounds varied from Mathematics to Psychology these modules introduced us to new ways of thinking, preparing us for undertaking our own research in the coming years.

We are excited to continue our journey of learning with the upcoming Data Science Studio module delivered by Dr. Daniel Arribas-Bel at The University of Liverpool. Although, sadly we cannot live and learn in Liverpool as many of us were expecting, we are still looking forward to supporting each other online.

We would also like to give a huge thank you to all the team members who have supported us and helped us to integrate into the Data Analytics & Society program. We are all looking forward to starting semester 2 in January!

Article by Cameron Ward (University of Liverpool) & Shivani Sickotra (University of Sheffield)


Introducing Dr Henri Kauhanen, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Henri Kauhanen is ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow with the Data Analytics & Society CDT from October 2018 to September 2019. Affiliated with the division of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Manchester, Henri works on mathematical and computational models of the population dynamics of language, looking for explanations of universal factors of linguistic variation and change that recur from one language to another. Originally trained as a cognitive scientist, Henri received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Manchester in April 2018, supervised by linguists Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and George Walkden (now at the University of Konstanz) and theoretical physicist Tobias Galla.


For his one-year ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Henri is taking a data-driven approach, concentrating on a focal topic in language dynamics but one that has so far received surprisingly little attention. This is the question of what basic rates different features of human language evolve at, and what is to be made of cases where several changes are governed by identical rates of change. To this end, he is writing computer software that aids in fitting the predictions of different models of linguistic change to empirical data, as well as conducting Monte Carlo power analyses of existing methods for model selection, utilising Manchester’s HTCondor high-throughput computing framework. The software will be released as open source packages for the R statistical computing environment by the end of the fellowship.


In addition to work on implementing computer code and writing research articles, the project includes a significant networking and skills development component. Henri attended the 2019 Complex Systems Summer School run by the Santa Fe Institute [link:] in Santa Fe, New Mexico in June and July, attending lectures on complexity, chaos, networks, nonlinear dynamics and related topics, but also working on group projects with physicists, biologists and social scientists. In August, Henri is organising a symposium on language change at Manchester [link:]; alongside regular talks, the two-day long event will feature three keynotes by eminent scholars in the field, focusing on resolving some of the often considerable tension between computational modelling and empirical, data-oriented work.


In the future, Henri is planning to continue working on computational models of language change, aiming in particular to increase the realism of currently available models. In October, he is moving to Germany to take up a second postdoc at the Zukunftskolleg [link:], an Institute for Advanced Study for Junior Researchers at the University of Konstanz.


To find out more about Henri’s research, visit his website at [link:].