Sustainability alumna analyzes how Twitter responds to catastrophes

In an article for Nature Publishing Group's journal Scientific Reports, Christa Brelsford - a School of Sustainability alumna and Sante Fe Institute postdoctoral fellow - and co-author Xin Lu analyze interactions by communities of Twitter users preceding and following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The authors find that among Japanese-speaking Twitter users, the disaster created more new connections and more changes in online communities than it did globally and (not surprisingly) it produced world-wide increases in earthquake-related tweets. In addition, the authors describe a novel framework for investigating the dynamics of communities in social networks that can be used to study any kind of social change.