Mason’s Center for Social Complexity has been awarded a $462,094 grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for a project entitled “A Framework for Modeling the Population’s Response to a Nuclear WMD Event.” This new basic research project on a population’s response in the first hours, days, and weeks following a nuclear WMD event is under the direction of William G. Kennedy (Principal Investigator/PI, Mason Center for Social Complexity; computational social scientist) and Andrew T. Crooks (Mason Center for Social Complexity and Mason’s Department of Computational and Data Sciences, College of Science; computational social scientist). The Center for Social Complexity, a unit in Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, will provide core facilities and administrative support in coordination with the Office of Sponsored Programs and College of Science.
The project will start this year and last three years with two additional years optional. The grant will fund a team of graduate student research assistants working closely with faculty. The aim of this research is to advance our understanding of the behavioral and social effects of a nuclear weapon of mass destruction (WMD) event on population dynamics. While the physical effects of such an event have been studied, the social effects are not well understood. Such effects may include complex cascading behaviors between and among the myriad of social systems and networks that have been too complex to easily describe using traditional methods. Through the use of computational social science, particularly agent-based modeling, this basic research will investigate and develop a deeper understanding of fundamental aspects of the response of individuals of a population and their social networks to a nuclear WMD event.
The objective of this research is to develop and test an understanding of a population’s response by implementing current and new theories in a computer model. The model will show how an affected population might react to a WMD event in the first 30 days, including both in the short term (e.g., evacuation) and longer term (e.g., finding water, food, and shelters, and migrating), but will not address recovery.
Results from this project are expected to contribute to fundamental scientific understanding of these complex response dynamics. A complete technical description of the project will soon be posted on the new project’s website.
The DTRA Program Officer for this project will be Paul S. Tandy, PhD. Dr. Tandy is responsible for The Basic and Applied Research Thrust Area 2: Network Sciences, where the fundamental science of cognitive, information and networks results from the convergence of computer, information, mathematical, network, cognitive and social sciences. This research thrust expands our understanding of physical and social networks and advances knowledge of adversarial intent with respect to the acquisition, proliferation, and potential use of WMD. The methods in this DTRA program may include analytical, computational or numerical, or experimental means to integrate knowledge across disciplines and improve rapid processing of intelligence and dissemination of information.
The Mason Center for Social Complexity was founded in 2002 by Dr. Claudio Cioffi through an Initiative on Complexity and Computational Science from the Office of the Provost. Since its inception, funding for the Center has been received through highly competitive peer-reviewed grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), among others.
Contact for Additional Information:
William G. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Center for Social Complexity, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
George Mason University, Research Hall, Room 380, MSN 6B2
4400 University Drive, Fairfax VA 22030 USA
Tel. (703) 993–1402; (703) 993-9291
E-mail: Bill Kennedy