STEM Shoutout: Dr. Marina Kogan

Dr. Marina Kogan heads research at UNM on crisis-related behavior on social media

Dr. Marina Kogan, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, is leading research on social media behavior in cases of mass disruption like natural disasters.

“I’m a computer scientist, but I think about people. I use computational algorithms to analyze large scale social media data sets to understand people better,” Kogan said.

Analyzing social networks gives Kogan the ability to see how individual connections form bigger structural patterns. For example, during crises, people tend to use social media a lot, and it is very important for people to find locally actionable information through social media. She notes that an online influencer can be utilized as a central node for the spread of this information. Through this influencer, the general public will be able to have quicker access to important information. Aside from this, Kogan wishes to find more effective ways to reach users when there is already incredible competition for users’ attention online.

“A lot of times, in crises, people make very complex decisions. Knowing the structure of the network and who’s the influencer might help us nudge people towards the behavior that might save their lives in the end,” Kogan said.

In the future, Kogan also hopes to study political crises and how people organize around them online.