Uma Maheswari Gollapudi

For the past year, I have been working on a project that aims at understanding user vulnerability to online radicalization on Twitter, by analyzing various network features and the personal/behavioral characteristics exhibited by users on the network. This was the paper that I presented at the 5th annual International Conference on Computational Social Science. Held at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the conference took place over a period of four days, from the 17th –20th of July 2019. As I was an undergraduate student at the time, and this was my first major conference, I was quite overwhelmed. I recall preparing for my presentation much in advance and working over various iterations of my talk. I read up on the previous editions of the conference, watched videos on prior talks and looked up and researched on various methods to give an engaging talk. Despite all the preparation, I was quite nervous and jittery, as I flew to the conference with no idea of what to expect.

The city itself was quite beautiful, with amicable people, delightful canals and lovely scenery. IC2S2 was home to people from all walks of life, having different experiences and insights, who had all gathered because of a collective interest in the field of computational social science. Housing various types of events – oral presentations, poster presentations, keynote talks, tutorials, panel discussions and networking sessions, the venue was bustling with activity. My talk was scheduled for the last day of the event, therefore, I spent a majority of the first two days attending fantastic talks and panel discussions, on various topics, ranging from Network Analysis and Finance to Culture, Political Behaviors and Social Influence. The conference further included a series of networking events, such as a Welcome Reception, a canal boat tour and finally, a conference dinner at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, which provided the perfect platform to meet and get to know people who are interested in the same research areas as I was, and thereby engage in exciting and interesting conversations. I met some charming people from countries including Colombia, China, The Netherlands and the UK and we had the chance to chat about everything, from our research goals and aspirations to matters pertaining to our daily lives and beliefs. The last day of the event included my talk, and I believe it’s safe to say, I did a good job. During my talk, I walked the audience through the motivation behind our research and explained the various methods and workings in our project. It was well-received, and there were quite a few interesting follow-up questions from the audience, which paved the way for valuable discussions and further networking.

It was a truly rewarding experience, as not only was I exposed to new ideas and fresh perspectives, I also met new people and got the chance to experience an international research culture. I am extremely grateful for ACM-W for the gracious support provided, thanks to their wonderful scholarship.