UROP Openings

Have a UROP opening you would like to submit?

Please fill out the form.

Submit your UROP opening

Senseable City Lab - Physical Space and Digital Communication




11: Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Supervisor:

Carlo Ratti

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Xiaohu Zhang (zhangxh@mit.edu)

Project Description

How does physical space and digital communication influence the creation of new knowledge? The project investigates the intricate interactions of physical space, digital communication and productivity. We intend to focus on the immediate changes of our communication patterns in the COVID period, and the likely long-term impact of fully virtual communications on innovation and productivity. Does our communication network change as all interactions become virtual? We attempt to explore this question through the lens of email network in MIT campus. Email communications between anonymous groups have been gathered since Dec 2019. This provides us an unprecedented opportunity to understand how our virtual communications were reshaped when physical interactions within the institution become absent in the COVID period. Without serendipitously bumping into each other on campus, it is possible that some weak ties (which facilitate information diffusion) in our social network are diminishing. The communications may become more and more concentrated within the same department instead of across different department. This could be harmful to research productivity to our institute as cross-disciplinary research collaboration is central in MIT. This project will help us to better understand how our communications evolve during the COVID period, the likely impact of those changes to our study and research activities. Also, it would provide information to support future decisions of policy making and campus management in a similar situation.


Experience in programming, python is preferable; Basic understanding of network/graph;