My journey in life and science

Skiing with kids

My life is an improv dance with family, cross-country skiing, outdoor fun, and research. 

I was born in Uppsala and grew up in a small village north of Umeå. At 16, I went to a high school for cross-country skiing in Lycksele before my undergraduate in engineering physics. After my Ph.D. in network science at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, I moved to the Department of Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle for my postdoc. There I started working on a grand challenge in network science: how to simplify and highlight essential regularities in networks into maps. Mapping networks is a holy grail of data science because in the myriad links and nodes of a network hide answers to how we can predict how the system will evolve.

From 2009 at Umeå University, and since 2019 as a professor in physics with focus on computational science, I have continued to develop and integrate new math, algorithms, and visualizations into mapping tools for efficiently going from interaction data to insightful maps, new hypotheses, and unexpected discoveries. With a diverse research group in IceLab and a growing collaboration network, our applications extend across both the natural and social sciences.

As a professional power napper, my favorite place in IceLab after lunch is a hidden couch.

I am fortunate to live between the university and the ski trails with my wife Marie and our two daughters born in 2014 and 2018. When I am not in a playground with my daughters, you will find me increasing my dopamine levels on cross-country skis.

Currently, my research is funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the Kempe Foundation.


In May 2021, Sune Lehmann interviewed me in his podcast Too Lazy to Read the Paper about how I became a network scientist.