Alexander Hanna

PhD Candidate
Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison


I'm a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My advisor is Pamela Oliver. Substantively, I’m interested in social movements, media, and the Middle East. Methodologically, I’m interested in computational social science, textual analysis, and social network analysis.

My dissertation uses principles from machine learning and information extraction to build an automated system for the creation of new protest event data. My master's thesis looks into the genesis of the the 6th of April Youth Movement with computer-aided content analysis methods.

I am also involved with the Social Media and Democracy group, advised by Dhavan Shah, Young Mie Kim, and Chris Wells. Right now we're working on a project surrounding political communication on Twitter during the 2012 elections.

I helped co-found and contribute regularly to the computational social science blog Bad Hessian, where I write about Python, R, Twitter, and RuPaul's Drag Race. I try to release most of my code as open source.

In my spare time, I read (even more), hack code (even more), and am involved with my local roller derby league. Suffice to say, I'm addicted to coffee. If a mathematician is a machine that turns coffee into theorems (Erdős by way of Rényi), I'm still trying to figure out what social scientists turn coffee into.