Joshua M. Epstein

Joshua M. Epstein
Joshua M. Epstein

Professor of Epidemiology

Professional overview

Dr. Joshua M. Epstein’s research focuses on modeling complex social, economic, and biological systems using agent-based computational models and nonlinear dynamic systems.

Dr. Epstein has extensive experience in mathematical and computational modeling of biomedical and social dynamics at all scales - from local to national to planetary. He pioneered the technique of agent-based computational modeling and has applied it to problems in social, behavioral, and biomedical science by modeling patterns of infectious diseases (e.g., Ebola, 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, smallpox, HIV), vector-borne diseases (e.g., Zika), urban disaster preparedness, contagious violence, the evolution of norms, economic dynamics, computational reconstruction of the ancient civilization of the Anasazi, and the emergence of social classes, among many other topics. To design evacuation and longer-term adaptation to climate change, he combined computational fluid dynamics (i.e. toxic plume dispersion) with human behavior to create a stunning 3D artificial Los Angeles. In response to Zika and in collaboration with colleagues and the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Epstein has developed an artificial New York City to be applied to urban health policy challenges. His work has had a profound influence on emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism, and the nascent field of disaster health, which is being developed under Presidential Directive (I-ISPD-21).

Dr. Epstein is the Director of the Agent-Based Modeling Lab, which works with large-scale epidemic models and cognitively plausible agents in order to produce a transformative synthesis for global public health modeling through the generative social science approach. For this transformative innovation, he was awarded the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2008, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Amherst College in 2010, and was elected to the Society of Sigma XI in 2018.

He holds multiple appointments within NYU, including affiliated faculty positions at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the College of Arts and Science. In addition, he is an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Prior to joining NYU, he was Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins, and Director of the Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavior, and Health Sciences, with Joint appointments in Economics, Applied Mathematics, International Health, and Biostatistics. Before that, he was Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and Director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics.

He has also  authored and co-authored seminal books, including Nonlinear Dynamics, Mathematical Biology, and Social Science (Wiley 1997); Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up (MIT, 1996); Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling (Princeton, 2006); and Agent_Zero: Toward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science (Princeton, 2013).

Education

BA, Independent Scholar with Thesis in Political Economy, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
PhD, Political Science (Specialization: Security Studies, Communist Studies, and Economics), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Honors and awards

Honorary Doctorate of Science, Amherst College (2010)
Director’s Pioneer Award, National Institutes of Health (2008)
Rockefeller Foundation International Relations Fellowship (1984)
Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship (1983)
Ford Foundation Dual Expertise Fellowship in Soviet/East European Area Studies and International Security/Arms Control (1981)
Institute for the Study of World Politics Fellowship (1981)

Areas of research and study

Agent-Based Modeling
Applied Economics
Cost Analysis
Disaster Health
Epidemiology
Health Economics
Infectious Diseases
Mathematical and Computational Modeling
Modeling Social and Behavioral Dynamics
New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Public Health Systems
Urban Health
Urban Informatics
Urban Science

Publications

Publications

Assessing the Military Balance: Defense Analysis and the Defense Debate

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1985

Journal title

The Brookings Review

Volume

3

Issue

3

Page(s)

16-20

The Calculus of Conventional War: Dynamic Analysis Without Lanchester Theory

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1985

Measuring Military Power

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1984

Horizontal Escalation: Sour Notes of a Recurrent Theme

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1983

Page(s)

541-552

On Conventional Deterrence in Europe: Questions of Soviet Confidence

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1982

Journal title

Orbis

Volume

26

Issue

1

Page(s)

71-86

Soviet Vulnerabilities in Iran and the RDF Deterrent

Epstein, J.

Publication year

1981

Journal title

International Security

Volume

6

Issue

2

Page(s)

126-59

Contact

je65@nyu.edu +1 (212) 992-3702 715/719 Broadway New York, NY 10003