20 January 2021

Supportive, committed, and available. Not someone who gets tied up with trivialities. This is how the new director for the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS) wants to be. She adds: “I hope and believe I am a good leader.”

Maria Brandén, director IAS.
Maria Brandén outside the IAS site in Norrköping. Photo taken in 2019. Photo credit: Mikael Sönne

"An easy desicion"

Maria Brandén, director IAS.Maria Brandén, director IAS. Photo credit Mikael Sönne

In practice, Maria Brandén took over as director and head of division after Peter Hedström last autumn, so that he could devote his final year before retiring to his own research and writing a book. However, she was not formally appointed until 1 January.

“How will this affect my career as a researcher?” This was the first question Maria Brandén asked herself when she received an enquiry about taking over. Not only was she enjoying her work as researcher and leadership for several large projects, she was also involved in teaching and director of studies for research education. All that took up a lot of her time.

“I plan on continuing with research and education. And my colleague Sarah Valdez takes on the role of director of studies”, says Senior Lecturer Maria Brandén, who soon realised that she would reply positively to the enquiry.

“Rather quickly I realized both that I would find it very fun and that I would be able to do a good job. I have been at IAS since the beginning in 2014 ant think that it's a very dynamic and excellent workplace with many talented and committed co-workers. So, in the end it was an easy decision to make.”

Doctorate in Stockholm

Maria Brandén was awarded a doctorate from Stockholm University in 2014 for a thesis that examined the inequality in decisions taken by couples to move residence. Her research interests lie in various types of segregation – which is a principal research area at IAS – and how segregation affects people’s lives. In the autumn of 2019, she was awarded SEK 13 million for an interdisciplinary research project in machine learning and social inequality.

As leader of IAS, she will have the job of, to put it simply, making sure everything “continues to work well”. Researchers at the institute are highly successful in securing research funds and publish frequently; further, many talented doctoral students have started their thesis work in recent years – and Maria is now working to ensure that the positive trends continue. She does not envisage any major changes in the focus of activities.

Maria Brandén, director IAS.Maria Brandén during the Zoom interview. Photo credit Mikael Sönne

“I want IAS to continue to attract really creative and successful researchers in sociology and computational social science”, she says.

“Otherwise, I intend to support the co-workers in their research and when they apply for research grants, without getting involved in the details. My previous positions at Stockholm and Linköping University have given me good insight into how the academic world works, and I believe that I can help others to navigate through it.”

Strong collegiality

Maria Brandén also emphasizes that she wants to keep the special spirit of IAS.

“There is a strong collegiality at IAS. We support each other, read each other’s applications, and research, and help the doctoral students. We have a common idea of what defines good research, and a common vision IAS as a top-flight research institute”, she says.

Marc Keuschnigg and Jacob Habinek will join Maria Brandén in the management team of the Institute for Analytical Sociology. Both have been appointed associate directors.

More information about Maria Brandén’s research: Personal webpage

Translated by: George Farrants


Facts: Maria Brandén

In the news: New head of division and director for the Institute for Analytical Sociology

Family: Partner, one son and one daughter

Lives: An apartment in Hammarbyhöjden in Stockholm

Age: 38

Interests: Enjoys singing and is a member of a choir.

Most recently read book: “Samlade verk” by Lydia Sandgren

Viewing habits: Huge numbers of TV drama series, most recently one about the gentleman thief Lupin on Netflix. I consume so many series that I sometimes stay up very late and miss out on sleep.

Listening habits: P1 on the radio. Not so much music, but I do like old synth bands such as New Order and DAF.

Facts: Institute for Analytical Sociology

The Institute for Analytical Sociology carries out research into important societal issues. The research focusses on sociology, in the original and broad meaning of the word. Around 30 researchers represent several disciplines such as sociology, political science, and economics.

The research combines agent-based simulations, analysis of social networks, and statistical analysis of questionnaire data, population registers, social media, and textual data. The research aims to investigate why individuals act as they do and how their actions affect society.

Work at the institute is conducted in five research areas: segregation dynamics, cultural dynamics, organisational dynamics, computational text analysis, and social network analysis.

IAS was formed in 2014 and is located in the industrial precinct at Campus Norrkoping.

Read more about IAS

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