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Hybrid Hybrid Event
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MIT System Dynamics Seminar: Systems insights for philanthropic support of US science

December 9, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EST

Hybrid Hybrid Event

Please visit the MIT System Dynamics Seminars page for more information.

You are invited to attend the System Dynamics Faculty Candidate Seminar being held on Thursday, December 9th from 1:00-2:30pm ET in E62-346 (please note the change in location) or virtually via Zoom: Our guest speaker will be Alex Gates (Northeastern University) presenting Systems insights for philanthropic support of US science* (abstract and brief bio below)

As per updated Sloan policies, there will be no food permitted inside any of the E62 conference rooms, beverages will require a straw to be consumed underneath your mask, and in-person attendees will need to sign a check-in sheet upon arrival to assist in contact tracing should it become necessary.

Abstract:  While the patterns characterizing the federal funding of scientific research are closely monitored and are the subject of spirited policy debates, our understanding of the philanthropic ecosystem is often limited to summary statistics provided by philanthropic sources.  To quantitatively model the complex system of philanthropic grant-making and uncover its statistical organizing principles, we need to map the entire grant-giving ecosystem. Here, we analyze the tax records of Form 990 e-filers, publicly released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  We disambiguate over 7 million grants made between 685,397 non-profit organizations in the United States from 2010-2019. We then build the funding network for organizations involved in scientific research and higher education (925,335 grants, totaling over $208 billion). Our analysis reveals that funders support geographically close recipients and that grant-giving relationships become increasingly entrenched over time.  We also explore the impact of board interlocks and interdependence on the availability and stability of philanthropic funding, and the differences in philanthropic recipient research outcomes compared to federal funding.  We discuss the policy implications of these findings for philanthropy in science and how our data & methodology can be used for further quantitative studies of philanthropy. *Paper is currently under review and cannot be publicly shared at this time

Alex Gates is a computational social scientist in Northeastern University’s Department of Sociology, and an affiliate of the Network Science Institute. Alex employs a highly interdisciplinary approach—combining tools and techniques from Data Science and Network Science with theory from Sociology—to draw insights from large datasets and uncover the interplay between the behaviors of individuals and the emergent structure of organizations, societies, and markets.  Specifically, his research focuses on the Science of Science to analyze and model how organizational structure and strategic decisions impact innovation, creativity, and success.  His work has been featured in top journals including Nature, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Machine Learning.


December 9, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EST
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