Joshua M. Epstein ’76, Honorary Degree Recipient

Joshua M. Epstein ’76.

Doctor of Science

Joshua M. Epstein is director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics and a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at The Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. He is a pioneer in the methodology of agent-based computational modeling (ABM), in which researchers use computers to realistically simulate the behavior and interactions of individual beings in order to gather data about how certain factors, such as diseases or public policy changes, spread through or affect entire societies. In their 1996 book, Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up, Epstein and Robert L.Axtell describe their development of the first large-scale example of ABM, called the Sugarscape. Epstein and his Center have since used ABM to break new ground in the studies of pandemic flu, smallpox, smoking, obesity, violence and bioterrorism. He has led modeling and simulation efforts for the National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response and the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study at the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to Growing Artificial Societies, Epstein is author or co-author of numerous other books, most recently 2007’s Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling. He is on the editorial boards of the journal Complexity and Princeton University Press’s Studies in Complexity book series. He has taught at Princeton University and is an external affiliate of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute and a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, as well as a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Economic Inequality and Social Interactions. In 2008, Epstein received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, which supports his ongoing research on how behavioral factors affect the dynamics of chronic and infectious diseases. On July 1, 2010, he will assume the role of Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, with joint professorships in economics, biostatistics and public health.

Epstein graduated from Amherst College in 1976 and went on to earn a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.