Social and Behavioral Data Science

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Social and Behavioral Data Science


IDSC Social and Behavioral Data Science (SBDS) is dedicated to a computational understanding of interaction with the ultimate goal of facilitating human functioning. Global social networks integrating the behavior of billions of individuals unite us, and sometimes divide us. Uniting big data in fields from psychology to physics, and from neuroscience to law. SBDS encompasses computational neuroscience, machine learning of behavior, and the social networks that characterize modern life. Research extends from the deep learning of audio environments to social network analysis. It includes the impact of data science on social processes, such as applications of facial identification technology. SBDS is committed to the ethical collection, storage, and analysis of big behavioral data. The program is committed to using data science to combat inequity and pursue social justice (Gigabytes for Good).


Daniel Messinger
Daniel Messinger, PhD
Director, IDSC Social and Behavioral Data Science

Daniel S. Messinger, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Pediatrics, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Music Engineering. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Department of Psychology Developmental Program, which trains students to understand children’s growth over time. Developmental faculty members have strong collaborative research programs investigating affect, attention, cognition, language, social interaction, school readiness, and early science education. Supportive mentoring relationships with individual faculty members are the keystone of research training in our program. The developmental program is designed to be completed in four to five years of residency.

Additionally, Dr. Messinger is the Director of the early PLAY and DEVELOPMENT Laboratory, which examines the development of typically developing children as well as children who are at-risk for or are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and he is the Research Director of the Department of Psychology Linda Ray Intervention Center (LRIC). LRIC is a Multidisciplinary Educational Services Center within the Department of Education’s Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System. The LRIC is one of the five Early Intervention Birth-Two Programs in Miami within the state’s Early Steps program for young children with disabilities.

Dr. Messinger’s specialties are:  social, language, and emotional development; modeling interaction using objectively measured, big behavioral data; and he focuses on autism, attachment, and preschool classrooms. Dr. Messinger uses machine learning to paint an objective picture of children’s interaction and employs computational models to make sense of the resulting big behavioral data. He works with children affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD), hearing loss, and poverty. By understanding interaction, he seeks to foster pathways to healthy development. Specific projects include the emergence of secure attachment, objective measures of autistic behavior, and language and proximity/orientation networks in inclusive classrooms.

Daniel Messinger joined IDSC when it was still CCS in 2015 as Program Director of Social Systems Informatics and has helped IDSC evolve with the science. He is on the Advisory Board and is a frequent mentor for the IDSC Fellows program, a prestigious designation awarded each year to a total of four graduate or undergraduate (sophomore level or above) students. Dr. Messinger works extensively with students to guide them as they shape the direction of their career and/or bring their research project goals to life.

Dr. Messinger’s current research aims to further understand emotional and social interaction and development of typically developing infants, infants who have autistic siblings, and children with autism spectrum disorders. He is using automated measurement and ratings of facial expressions to explore emotion and interaction. Additionally, Dr. Messinger is examining dynamic systems and the impact of real-time processes (sharing a smile) on developmental processes (secure attachment). As the author of over 120 scientific publications appearing in journals such as Nature Communications, Developmental Science, and Molecular Autism, Dr. Messinger has over a dozen years of experience leading longitudinal research initiatives funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). He is associate editor of Emotion (American Psychological Association Journal) and reviews grants for the NIH and NSF.


Recent Publications