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The Spotlight introduces a different Data Science Centre Affiliate Member every month. This month: Susan Vermeer, Assistant Professor Political Communication & Journalism at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam. In April 2022, Susan became an Affiliate Member of the Data Science Centre.

How do you apply data science to your projects?

My research focuses on online news consumption (particularly among adolescents), news sharing, digital journalism, data-driven campaigning, and online political communication. To measure and analyse such concepts, data science has shown to be extremely useful. For instance, to collect online tracking data, to analyse news content by applying machine learning methods or to apply network analysis to analyse audience-meter data.

Is there a project from this past year that you are most proud of? 

Particularly younger adults are increasingly and predominantly using social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, YouTube) to get informed about the world around them. One of my main goals is understanding how social media, and its algorithms, shape news exposure and adolescents’ interest in politics and engagement with political news. One of my recent research projects focused on the effects of Instagram Stories for news among adolescents.

What do you like most about being a DSC member?    

I am really happy to be an Affiliate Member of the Data Science Centre. It offers a great way to interact with like-minded researchers and learn new skills. I highly appreciate the possibility to attend workshops and work together on Fridays. Last September, the Data Science Centre hosted a two-day hackathon in Zaandam – and those were two days of good fun. It is inspiring to see how scientists from different faculties and institutes within the University of Amsterdam use data science for their projects (from automatically detecting tiny eggs in microscope images to analyzing Twitter data on air travel and climate).

What is your favourite data science method? 

My favorite method is (supervised) machine learning for examining large chunks of textual data (from different news sources, different languages). This helped me a lot throughout my research to get a better understanding of news use.

Are you camp Python/R/or something else?

Camp Python! Especially for pre-processing data. I use R for analyzing data 😊

Contact Susan Vermeer about her work