Santa Fe Institute

Groups

Research Themes

Interest Areas

  • Modeling of complex social, economic, and biological systems using agent-based computational models and nonlinear dynamical systems, with applications to economics, public health, and international security.

Joshua M. Epstein

External Professor

Prof. of Emergency Medicine, Director, Center for Advanced Modeling in Social, Behav and Health Sci, Johns Hopkins University, Economics, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health Sciences

Bio

A pioneer in agent-based computational modeling, Josh Epstein has recently done groundbreaking work on epidemics and bioterrorism. He has published widely in the modeling area, including articles on the dynamics of civil violence, the demography of the Anasazi, the evolution of norms, and the epidemiology of smallpox and pandemic flu.

Epstein also serves as an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and is a former Senior Fellow in Economics and Director of the center of Social and Economic Dynamics at the Brookings Institution.He is a recipient of the prestigious 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, lead investigator in Modeling and Simulation for the DHS University Center of Excellence on Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER) at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and director of Global Epidemic Modeling for the National Institutes of Health's Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), a collaboration of research and informatics groups to develop computational models of infectious agents and control strategies.

In 1983 he became a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, where he converted his PhD thesis into the first of six books. He was later promoted to Senior Fellow in Economic Studies. Based at Brookings, from 1990-2000 he also taught mathematical/computational modeling at Princeton University as a Visiting Lecturer.  In addition, since 1993 he has served as External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, a post-doctoral Institute for the Study of Complex Systems (founded by Nobel Laureates and other major scientists).

In the mid-1990s, Dr. Epstein founded the (initially Joint) Brookings-Johns Hopkins Center on Social and Economic Dynamics, which he currently directs.  Dr. Epstein is also a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh and an External Research Professor at The Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University.  He has extensive experience in mathematical/computational modeling of biomedical and social dynamics at all scales from local to planetary.  He pioneered the technique of Agent-Based Modeling, which is considered a transformative innovation by NIH and helped earn him the prestigious 2008 NIH Director's Pioneer Award. Dr. Epstein's work has had a profound influence on the integrated computational modeling of social, behavioral, and biomedical dynamics, with particular reference to emerging infectious diseases and the nascent field of disaster health, which is being developed under Presidential Directive (I-ISPD-21).

He has authored or co-authored several books including Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up, with Robert Axtell (MIT Press/Brookings Institution, 1996). His latest book, Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling was recently published by  Princeton University Press.

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