Data Science talks cover political social media posts, 3D-printing anomalies

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The upcoming Data Science Community research talks will feature two researchers who are using innovative data science techniques in their work to better understand the sharing of political content on social media, and how data can be used to identify opportunities for improvement in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, and Jan Petrich, research development engineer in the Geospatial Intelligence Department, Applied Research Laboratory, will present the online talks, scheduled for from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, March 4.

Advance registration is required.

Sundar will discuss why social media users tend to share content that is more extreme than moderate, which can lead to echo chambers and political polarization. To investigate this hypothesis, his team will leverage a Facebook data set encompassing three years of clicks and shares data for the platform. Access to this data set was provided by a Social Media and Democracy Grant, awarded by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Sundar plans to discuss the dataset, and challenges faced in extracting and analyzing data in a privacy-protected manner, as well as emerging patterns found in a subset of the data.

Petrich will present on ways that data can improve additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing often has seemingly random flaws or anomalies, which can render the product unusable. Petrich, who has been working with both the Applied Research Laboratory and the Center for Innovative Materials Processing, will describe how his group has been using data to identify some flaws in the additive manufacturing process. He also plans to discuss techniques for using machine learning and X-ray Computed Tomography throughout the process.  

The Data Science Community is a grassroots initiative supported by Penn State's Teaching and Learning with TechnologyInstitute for Computational and Data Sciences and University Libraries. To learn more about Data Science Community events or to join the community mailing list, visit

Last Updated March 08, 2021