Monday, June 3, 2019

A Very Special Network Science Conference in Beautiful Burlington, Vermont

The wonderful message arrived on March 30, 2019. It was from Dr. Adilson E. Motter, the Morrison Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University.

He was writing to inform me that I was elected a Fellow of the Network Science Society, Class of 2019, and that the award ceremony would be taking place at a banquet during the International Conference on Network Science, in Burlington, Vermont, May 29-31, 2019.  Would I be able to come?

I checked my schedule, and, luckily, I was available, and, given that Burlington is about a 4 hour drive from Amherst through beautiful landscapes, I accepted the invitation.

There was a news blackout on this good news until the award was officially announced on May 29.

Last week I had the wonderful experience of taking part in the conference, which attracted over 600 conferees from around the globe to the venue at the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington. The Conference Chairs were: Professors Laurent Hebert-Dufresne and Peter S. Dodds of UVM, with Juniper Lovato, of the UVM Complex Systems Center, serving as the superb lead conference organizer. 

The drive up took place last Tuesday, on a cold, rainy day, but once we arrived in Burlington, the weather soon improved and it was absolutely lovely. The view from the hotel room of Lake Champlain was magnificent.

The building for the conference presentations was stunning.
I thoroughly enjoyed keynote talks by Drs. Duncan Watts, Mark E. Newman, Tina Eliassi, Michelle Girvan, and several others, with even the banquet keynote given by Dr. Emily Bernard. 
It was also very special to meet, face to face, such incredible network scientists as Dr. Vittoria Colizza, Dr. Guido Caldarelli, Dr. Raissa D'Souza, as well as Dr. Yamir Moreno, the President of the Network Science Society. Below I am standing with Professor Moreno.
This conference was especially timely for me, since for many weeks I have been working on an invited article for a special issue of the journal Networks, marking the 50th anniversary of its inception, and in the article I had integrated research from many disciplines, focusing on economic and financial networks. This paper has grown to 45 pages.

A clear highlight was the banquet last Wednesday night. We drove, but buses were arranged for those who needed a ride to the banquet location, which was the Mansfield Barn in Jericho, Vermont. Many conferees enjoyed being on a school bus, some for the very first time!
 Our conference was marked with a milk jug, a nice rustic touch.

At the banquet, Professor Claudia Wagner sat next to me. She had just been to UMass Amherst for a conference organized by my Computer Science colleague, Professor Andrew McCallum, having traveled from Cologne, Germany.  What a wonderful, small academic world it is. We had a lovely conversation since she is originally from Austria, and I had lived in Innsbruck with my family while on a Distinguished Fulbright.

The banquet food was delicious (impossible to get a bad meal in Burlington) and I was so honored and thrilled to be recognized with the Fellows Award.
More background on the Fellows Award, including the list of the inaugural Fellows, many of whom I am sure you will recognize, can be found here.

It was extra special receive the Fellow plaque from Professors Motter and Moreno.
The citation above reads: "For sustained contributions to network science, including the formulation, analysis, and computation of solutions to engineered network systems, from congested urban transportation to supply chains, under varied decision-making behaviors."

Also, so deservedly recognized at the banquet was Professor Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, the Founder of the Network Science Society.
The wonderful scientific talks, discussions, and the beauty of the location as well as the hospitality will stay with me. It's also terrific to have some NetSci2019 souvenirs!

Congratulations to the NetSci2019 conference organizers, the speakers, and to all the award recipients. NetSci2019 was truly special and I am very grateful. The love of networks is bringing many scientific disciplines and its researchers closer together for even more impactful contributions!