Welcome to the Centre!

If you are interested in working with us, please review our social philosophy/contract

Thanks for showing interest in our work and journey. If you have landed here, you are either joining us or thinking about it. This space will help you find out about our ways of working. It also serves as a statement of our philosophy and a social contract among the research members of the lab. If you are also new at TU Delft, see the end of this page for more information.

Mission.

Our mission is to do rigorous science for the social good. Most of our funding comes from society (through public funds and government-supported contracts), so we must be wise about what and how we research. While doing so, we can be respectful, fun, creative, supportive, vulnerable, constructive, collaborative, inclusive and truthful.

We focus on three main areas.

  • We design methods to extract generalisable theories from urban data traces over space and time.
  • We focus on advancing urban science by combining knowledge from different fields (data science, complex adaptive systems, machine learning, sociology, geography, anthropology, etc), and facilitating productive interaction among many stakeholders (academics, policymakers, citizens, urban planners, architects, etc).
  • We research and design effective and equitable urban planning decision-support systems. This means we strive to simplify and expand complex models with modern visualisation techniques, knowledge utilisation workshops and citizen participation methods, so that our work finds some societal relevance.

Members of the centre finding a moment to laugh in 2020 (many missing from this image).
Members of the centre finding a moment to laugh in 2020 (many missing from this image).


Expectations & Responsibilities1


As an equal member of this lab, we are all responsible for certain things.

Everyone: The big picture

  • Work on what you are passionate about, and work hard at it. Be proud of your accomplishments.
  • When we talk about science and social good, we have to be careful. Don’t rush into anything. First think about what you want to do, if it is rigorous, correct and useful. Beautiful things are great but must have rigorous science behind them and societal relevance above it all. Why? Because society pays our bills.
  • Ask others to look at your code or data if you need help, and help others when they ask. We are all in this together.
  • Challenge me (Trivik) when I’m wrong or when your opinion is different. We can all learn from your unique perspective.
  • If you make a mistake, tell your collaborators (if they have already seen the results, and especially if the paper is being written up, is already submitted, or already accepted). We want to own up to our mistakes as a team, correct them and move on.
  • Be honest about your work, and never plagiarize, tamper with data, make data up, omit data, or fudge results in any way. Science is about finding out the truth, and null results and unexpected results are still important. That truth may or may not be yours, or may not be what you expected to find at the start. Accept it, be sure of your results, and move on.
  • Academia motivates competition. Let’s not fall into that trap. Science is collaborative and if we want to do great things, let’s include our colleagues. Support your peers. Help them out if they need help (even if you aren’t on the project).
  • Respect your colleagues in everything. Respect their strengths and weaknesses, respect their choices and their decisions. Respect their culture, their religion, their beliefs, their gender, their sexual orientation.
  • If you’re struggling, tell someone at the group (you are welcome to talk to Trivik!). Our priority is your health and well-being. A PhD can indeed be the toughest years of one’s academic career. If you feel that way about your work or life, or any other way that is not positive, we are all here to support you. Talk to someone!
  • If you are facing tension or hostility in the lab, tell Trivik about it. It is not okay to work in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable.
  • If you have a problem with Trivik, you can talk to him directly about it. If you aren’t comfortable, then consider talking to people outside the lab. You could reach out to Dr Martijn Warnier and Dr Seda Gürses, both based in the dept. of Multi Actor Systems at TPM.
  • Stay up to date on the latest research by following the relevant scientists, policymakers and journals on Twitter, RSS feeds, Google Scholar, or getting a journal table of contents to your email. We also share articles on some channels on Slack.
  • Delft is a beautiful city. The Netherlands is a wonderful country. Make time and space for yourself outside of work, and don’t hesitate to take time off when you want it and when you need it. Your mental and physical well-being are more important than academic discourse.

Everyone: The big picture

  • It is okay that sometimes you have to miss a meeting. Inform others in time, so they can plan accordingly.
  • We don’t expect you to work on weekends or over holidays. Academia is a complex and chaotic environment, and sometimes you will find yourself working late into the night or unexpectedly through a holiday. Don’t do it! You are expected to get work done, but you are also expected to take care of yourself.
  • We have a small group so you can find a physical space to collaborate, create and build a community. If you want to experiment with your physical location of work, you are free to do so.
  • Arrive on time for meetings. It is disrespectful and disturbing to others who are waiting or have to accommodate us when we are late.
  • Plan for vacations ahead of time and let your collaborators know when you will not be available.

Expectations of Post-docs

  • Eventually develop your independent line of research. You are not a research engineer or consultant. This position is a great way of showcasing your ideas alongside the lab’s work and find space and appreciation for your work in academia. I will support you with that.
  • Your unique experience, expertise and perspective can help train and mentor students in the lab. Work with them when they need you or when you want to help shape their ideas.
  • Build a network and present your work widely (academia, policy, industry, activism & organisation, whatever you like).
  • Focus on your professional development and career after the postdoc as well. Meet with me not only for research but also for developing a plan of action for your future.
  • Apply for grants and fellowships. It is great for your CV and helps you keep your position for longer if you eventually enjoy working with us. I will support you.
  • Apply for jobs when you’re ready. If you think you’d like to leave academia or go on a different career path (founding a company, part-time work in the industry, anything else…), I will still support you in the same way. We can support you to train for jobs or founding companies outside academia.

Expectations of PhD Students

  • Spend 4 years on developing your dissertation. You are going to become a doctor, so research with passion and integrity, and own that title whenever you want to, contrary to what certain men may publish in leading journals around the world (Wall Street has never known anything). Your dissertation should consist of around 4 projects, built around answering a big-picture question. In abstract form, those 4 projects, chronologically, could be (1) a project that I suggest that you do, (2) a project that we discuss and develop together, (3) a project that you decide on and drive forward, and (4) a project you may collaborate with others inside or outside the organisation, eventually helping you build a strong network after your PhD.
  • Your unique experience, expertise and perspective can help train and mentor undergraduate or Master’s students in the lab. Work with them when they need you or when you want to help shape their ideas.
  • Present your work whenever you get a chance to. Attend conferences, events and seminars. Build a network. Research is fun when it is collaborative.
  • Even though your salary is covered, apply for fellowships, conference funding, and awards, to gain experience in framing your research and achievements. I will help you in writing good statements.
  • Talk to me twice a year about professional development and progress towards your dissertation.
  • Make sure you follow all dissertation requirements (e.g., go/no-go meeting, credits, courses, etc.), and make sure I am aware of everything!
  • Talk to your assigned mentor regularly (the Graduate school will assign you one). The mentor can help you with many things, including sometimes dealing with issues with me (Trivik).
  • Prioritize time for research. Everything else can be fun or necessary, but your research is what is going to help shape your career.

What you can expect of me

I will…

  • Prioritise your emotional and mental well-being and support you scientifically and financially.
  • Provide you with timely feedback on projects, papers, conference material and grants.
  • Be available in person in non-pandemic times, and via e-mail or Slack regularly.
  • Be available for regular meetings to discuss your research and other things you may want to talk about.
  • Provide you with updates about the lab’s vision and undertakings, where the field is headed, and important tips on expanding your scientific network.
  • Support you with recommendation letters, meeting other researchers in the field, promoting your work wherever I can and providing financial support for conferences and workshops, wherever possible.
  • Offer help to prepare for the next step in your career, whether it’s in academia, founding your own company or some other roles in the industry.


Open and Reproducible Science + Communication


For every project we work on, we also strive to have openness in our communication. Wherever possible, we share our code and data and aim for open access publishing. However, when we work with datasets that belong to other collaborators or are collected from people, we want to first adhere to the strictest of data sharing policies and stay under GDPR guidelines. We are in the process of transferring course materials to this website that helps us in developing good practices for open and reproducible science.

We use various forms of communications channels: Microsoft Teams for individual meetings and group meetings (can be accessed through TU Delft), and Email and Slack for written communication. Before the pandemic, we used to often walk into each other’s offices, or the regular research room to discuss new ideas or problems, ask for coffee or lunch, or schedule meetings into the future. However, since we all started working from home and found new ways to adapt to this situation, we have been relying on these tools a lot more to stay in contact.



Meetings


Group Meetings (weekly online on Teams)

Lab meetings are the soul of this lab. The objective of these meetings is to grow and learn from each other by leveraging the diverse skills and experience of group members. This will ultimately lead to the successful completion of our projects and advancements in Computational Urban Science & Policy.

We can host a useful and practical meeting by,

  • establishing a participatory and democratic research culture
  • sharing our ideas and helping transform and develop the objectives of our research
  • practising our communication and presentation skills
  • providing support and integration to all group members
  • practising team problem-solving and decision-making
  • fostering critical thinking and creativity
  • celebrating individual and team achievements
  • disseminating essential and timely information

Weekly group meetings are a chance to discuss our research as a team. We will all be on a schedule of 2 members presenting every week. When it is your chance, you are expected to introduce a problem, on observation or a result of your analyses to the group in 10 minutes, followed by a 15 minute discussion. An excellent way to utilise this time for feedback and discussions is to start with a clear and high-level but brief description of your problem/analyses and a question posed to the group. Group members come from diverse backgrounds with individual experiences that may offer a solution to your problem.

These presentations could be anything among,

  • Data collection
  • Problematic data, confusing results
  • Analysing, visualising or interpreting results
  • Analyses that didn’t work
  • Analyses that worked
  • Building models
  • Coding or model structures
  • An idea for a new project
  • An abstract for a conference submission
  • A paper you read related to your work
  • A paper outline you have to write
  • A literature review related to your project
  • A tutorial on a technique you mastered for your project
  • Talking to decision-makers and stakeholders of your project
  • Disseminating your findings
  • Designing a tool for decision-makers

You are as important as any other member of this lab, so your participation is necessary for the growth of the collective work we do. Please make sure that when you speak to the group members, you are addressing everyone, and they understand the big picture of what you are describing. Only then will they be able to help you in those 15 minutes. Likewise, when something is not clear, ask others who are describing their problem. Understandably, we all have different educational backgrounds, so it is okay to ask a follow-up question for clarifications.

To participate and benefit from these meetings, you may be asked at some point in time to,

  • organise and/or manage a presentation schedule,
  • arrange an engaging speaker you want to hear from,
  • approach an organisation for collaboration
  • take responsibility for some activity in the lab
  • facilitate a meeting, or
  • provide feedback on a project or problem

Individual Meetings (online on Microsoft Teams)

We are going to have weekly individual meetings so we can dive deeper into the contents of your research, your ideas and problems you may be facing. Please read this article on how to make your supervision meetings more effective and successful for yourself. We should set a plan for each session, and this article is an excellent resource to achieve that.

Email

Use email if you want to communicate with me about anything official, long or with external collaborators. I usually don’t forget your email, but if you want a response on time, please mention it or remind me again. Expect some delays during teaching quarters Q1 and Q3. If you want to archive your conversations or not have things fall through the cracks, this is the best channel of communication.

Slack

We use Slack for daily and impromptu discussions. Conversations are not archived here. Let me know with a short email what email address you prefer to use for Slack and join the research group here.



Documenting your research


Keeping notes

You may want to keep thorough notes of your research in an archivable manner. This will make it easier for you to keep track of the things you have done in the past, what you want to and need to do in the future and important references that will support you in your work. By taking notes, you can account for your actions and become a more disciplined researcher. Besides, we will learn a lot from you sharing insights from your notes at meetings. There are many great ways of keeping notes: Google Docs, Evernote, Word, Notepadd++, Atom, Pages, Jupyter or iPython notebooks, etc. Choose whichever tools fit best into your workflow, but make sure there’s an easy way of sharing your notes when you need to (e.g. a PDF).

You should also take notes during meetings so you can easily track the progress of your project.

Writing papers

We usually write our papers in LaTeX on Overleaf. With your TU Delft email address, you can upgrade to a professional account for free. With this, you can use Dropbox and GitHub integration, track changes in collaborative writing projects, manage private projects with invitations, and more.

You will find some useful writing tips here.

Blog

Blog posts are a great way of disseminating your research using approachable and straightforward writing. It publicises your efforts quickly and occasionally brings attention from other academics and policymakers to your work. We have a blog hosted here where you could contribute as and when you like. It also helps us clarify our research for the general public, people who are funding our research.

Engagement

If your work is caught by the press, journalists may reach out to you. If we worked together on the project, please keep me informed. If not, still keep me informed so I can keep the faculty abreast of your achievements, and celebrate with you in our next encounter.



New at TUD


Buddy Support

We will assign you a buddy who can be your friend when administrative tasks become complex or what you need to do is not clear because it is hidden in all the red tape. We have all gone through it, and it is likely as easy as asking that buddy for the right link.

Wifi

The best wifi to use on campus at TU delft is eduroam. You can access it using your netid and password.

VPN

If you want to access resources on campus, like servers, computational nodes or articles accessible through university memberships, you should set up a VPN.

E-services

For anything related to your personal information at TU Delft, the first point of information is your e-service portal. If you need more information, contact the service-desk through the self-service portal.

Computation

This is a work in progress. We are trying to set-up a high-performance cluster for the university/faculty/lab. As one will become available, we will release more information here.



When you want to reach out.


In general, we all maintain ourselves according to the guidelines of TU Delft. The faculty and the university have support for all kinds of issues. However, there is more to it. If you want to talk about something related to life in our lab, coursework, conflict, research, personal, or health matters, you are welcome to talk to Trivik about it. If you want to speak to someone else or have a problem with Trivik, consider talking to Dr Martijn Warnier or Dr Seda Gürses. In case they are not available or you need another opinion, talk to Prof. Andrea Ramirez (also head of Graduate School at TPM).


  1. I respect and appreciate what Dr Dan Larremore expects of his lab members. I expect similar and different things as well and share his vision in openness, accountability and support. ↩︎