Joshua Epstein, Ph.D

Principal InvestigatorPACER

Joshua M. Epstein, Ph.D., is Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, with Joint Appointments in the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Economics, Biostatistics, International Health, and Environmental Health Sciences and the Director of the JHU Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences.  He is an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, and was recently appointed to the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Identifying and Prioritizing New Preventive Vaccines.  Earlier, Epstein was Senior Fellow in Economic Studies and Director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics at the Brookings Institution. He is a pioneer in agent-based computational modeling of biomedical and social dynamics. 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); Nonlinear Dynamics, Mathematical Biology, and Social Science (Addison-Wesley), and Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling (Princeton University Press). Epstein holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst, a Ph.D. from MIT, and has taught at Princeton and lectured worldwide. In 2008, he received an NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and in 2010 an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Amherst College.

Dr. Epstein is the Principal Investigator for the Modeling and Simulation of Complex Social Dynamics for Catastrophic Event Preparedness and Response Project.  Epstein and his team conduct National and Planetary Scale agent-based computational modeling of infectious diseases (H1N1) and the effects of diverse containment strategies, including vaccination, school closures, anti-viral prophylaxis, and travel restrictions.  These modeling tools are designed for the full spectrum of decision makers to evaluate alternative emergency policies and actions, and anticipate cascading effects across interdependent systems.  Epstein applies the hybrid Computational Fluid Dynamics / Agent-Based Modeling platform pioneered in PACER to design evacuation strategies for large cities given the release of airborne toxic contaminants (chemical, biological).  This involves unparalleled visualization of toxic plume dynamics and traffic patterns projected on a realistic 3-Dimenisonal renditions of Los Angeles and New Orleans.  The Global Scale Agent Model developed in PACER to simulate pandemic flu also represents the cutting edge of visualization in its area.  Epstein's group is building realistic human behaviors such as vaccine refusal into the modeling of disaster preparedness and containment planning for these and other catastrophic events.  These tools offer real-time decision support in emergencies by integrating and assimilating multiple types of information, processing that information, and presenting it in a manner useful to decision makers.