Ivan Smirnov

Research and Education for a Better Society

I’m a computational social scientist and occasional social entrepreneur. I’m currently based in Moscow and work at the Institute of Education, Higher School of Economics where I lead an Educational Data Science Group. You can learn more about my research interests, past professional activities, educational background and some personal details.

Email, Facebook


I initiated a Digital Trace project with an idea to bring computational social science to educational research in Russia. I’ve collected unique data sets by combining information about students’ academic achievements with data on their online behavior on a popular social networking site. As part of my doctoral thesis, I used this data to estimate the effect of social/cultural segregation in the digital space.

The success of the project has led to creation of Educational Data Science Group that I currently lead. Our research focuses on two broad topics: “Inequality in the Digital Age” and “Students’ Well-Being in the Digital Age”. Our work has been covered by Russian as well as international media such as The Times and MIT Technology Review.

Professional background

I’m convinced that the most effective way to make the world better is to help others to make it better. This conviction is reflected in my past professional activities.

Teach for Russia

I was part of Teach for Russia core team. We started with an idea to launch a project in Russia based on Teach for America model. We did research, established relationships with key stakeholders, got support from Teach for All network and eventually raised sufficient amount of money from the largest Russian bank to launch the project.

Business Incubator and Startup Schools

I was part of the team that organized a set of events for aspiring entrepreneurs. We were later acqui-hired by ITMO University to launch a biannual startup school and to establish a business incubator. I have also helped to organize KIVO — the largest competition for education startups in Russia.

Web development and project management

I worked as a web developer and a technical leader at several startups. I still use my skills regularly for scientific, educational or skills-based volunteering purposes.


PhD Candidate, Higher School of Economics

The defence is expected in Q1 2018

MSc in Life Science, Paris Diderot University

MSc* in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science,
Saint Petersburg State University

*Specialist degree (which is equivalent to Master)


I also studied linguistics at Saint Petersburg State University and completed several online courses including Udacity's Deep Learning Nanodegree.

Personal details

My soul belongs to Saint Petersburg and my heart to Paris. I’m a pragmatic pro-feminist, I read The Economist weekly and know by heart Eugene Onegine.