Christopher Barrett, scientific director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, has been awarded a prestigious Jubilee Professorship in Computer Science and Engineering from Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden.

As part of the professorship, Barrett will help develop new interdisciplinary projects with Chalmers University on topics related to sustainable cities, social and network science, and socially coupled systems. He will lead a transdisciplinary team of scientists from the computer science department and the School of Architecture and Urban Design at Chalmers, along with researchers in the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

"We are delighted and privileged to host Professor Chris Barrett as Chalmers Jubilee Professor," said Peter Dybjer, head of computing science at Chalmers. "His visit adds new dimensions to our competence in the areas of network science and large scale microsimulations of socially coupled systems. Chalmers is committed to sustainable development technologies and Professor Barrett's group been a world leader in this area. We hope that the projects he is initiating here with our department and other researchers at Chalmers will lead to fruitful and high impact results." 

Many of the projects will be enacted through the development of a synthetic population and network representing Sweden. The effort offers the prospect of informatics research relevant to Swedish regional and national planning support, societal and infrastructure research, and a new direction in advanced computational social and behavioral science. Through this synthetic population, researchers will be able to study various subjects on a national scale, including urban transport systems, computational public health epidemiology, and sustainable cities. 

This is the first time for such an endeavor, and it’s hoped that it will lead to greater comprehension of socially coupled networks and further international collaborations that expand the understanding of decision-making in complex systems.

"We are excited to host Professor Barrett in our group during his stay as Chalmers Distinguished Visiting Professor," said Devdatt Dubhashi, a professor of computer science and engineering at Chalmers University. "This provides us the opportunity to interact with Professor Barrett, Professor Madhav Marathe, and the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory group at Virginia Tech, who have been world leaders in developing and applying core computer science concepts and technologies to high impact applications in transport, urban futures and public health."

Barrett received his Ph.D. in bioinformation systems from the California Institute of Technology in 1985. He worked for 17 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the Basic and Applied Simulation Science Group before joining the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute as the director of the Networks Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory. 

His work has pioneered the use of high performance computing and network science in computational social and behavioral science. He has received numerous awards from LANL, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the Alliance for Transportation Research. He was named scientific director of the institute in 2012.

The Jubilee Professorship was awarded to Chalmers by the Swedish government on its 150th anniversary and is meant to enrich the university’s intellectual capital and foster stronger international relations. Barrett is among an elite group of scientists invited by the Swedish government in subject areas ranging from applied physics to network science.