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Research Team

kennedyDr. William G. Kennedy, Principal Investigator (PI) for the project, is an Associate Professor after having been Research Assistant Professor at George Mason University for 10 years. Previous to that, he completed full careers in the U.S. Navy (30 years in submarines and the Naval Reserves), in the federal civil service (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 10 yrs), and the Department of Energy (15 yrs). He earned his Ph.D. in Information Technology (Artificial Intelligence) in 2003 and retired from civil service in 2005. He then did a 3-year post-doc at the Naval Research Laboratory in cognitive robotics, which focused his research interests on Cognitive Science. His current research is in modeling individuals’ cognitive processes and human behavior in agent-based models of societies. He also teaches for the Computational Social Science program and the Department of Psychology at GMU. You can visit his Web site here.

Contact Information
Center for Social Complexity, Research 379
Phone: 703-993-9291

crooks Dr. Andrew Crooks, co-Principal Investigator, is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Computational Data Science and the Department of Geography and GeoInformation Science. Along with being a researcher in the Center for Social Complexity at George Mason University, Andrew teaches a variety of courses in computational social science, urban systems, GIS and agent-based modeling. His research interests relate to exploring, understanding and the communication of the physical and socio-economic environments using GIS, spatial analysis, geovisualization, agent-based modeling and social network analysis methodologies. These research interests have resulted in several publications. Visit his Web page to find out more..

Contact Information
Center for Social Complexity
381 Research Hall, MS 6B2
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: (703) 993-4640
Fax: 703) 993-9290

ozAnnetta Burger, a graduate research assistant, active on the project team since 2017, is currently working on a Computational Social Science PhD in the Computational and Data Sciences Department. Her research interests are focused on how social networks impact cultural norms, behavior and cognition and how social networks are used for collective action. For her dissertation she is developing an agent-based model of social networks to study the ability of communities to rebuild their social networks and recover resources in the context of flooding. The model will be used to test how variations in flooding, urban density, displacement, population characteristics and social network forms impact disaster recovery. Previously, she supported research programs in the areas of training, decision-making and basic social science at the Office of Naval Research. She holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland, University College, and a Bachelors in International Relations from the University of Virginia.

ozRichard Jiang, a doctoral student in the computational social science program at George Mason University, has been on the team since 2018. He received a BS and MS in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Eastern Michigan University, where he studied professional GIS skills and knowledge related to Agent Based Modeling. His research involves the application of agent-based models in urban vacancy issues and relocation demographics, especially in shrinking cities. For the WMD project, his task is to locate the first response systems’ locations (hospitals, police stations, and fire stations) in the study area, which offer extra movement directions in the model after the nuclear attacks in Manhattan, NY.

ozDiana “Pat” Guillen, a member of the team since 2018, is a Master of Science (MS) student in the Geography and Geoinformation Science program at George Mason University. Previous to enrollment at Mason, Pat was in the United States Marine Corps, where she was part of an operation called Tomodachi, helping with non-combative evacuation, planning, and training. Operation Tomodachi was a United States Armed Forces assistance operation to support Japan in disaster relief following the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami. For the WMD project she is tasked with effectively visualizing three different scenarios: one, a normal day (this includes traffic flow and demographic inputs, as well as 3D tiles of building heights); two, the day of the WMD attack (without the first responders but with people moving throughout the city to evacuate); and three, how the first response systems’ locations (hospitals, police stations, and fire stations) move after the WMD goes off.

vawterSamantha Vawter, who joined the team in 2019, is studying for her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a concentration in Biopsychology at George Mason University, with the goal of applying to medical school. Samantha graduated from the Prince William County School of Practical Nursing in 2017 and obtained her nursing license at the age of 18 and has since gone on to work at a local pediatric office. Because of her medical background, Samantha is tasked with identifying the protocols of hospitals and the roles of personnel on the day of the NWMD attack.


sproullMary Sproull, who joined the team in 2019, is a doctoral candidate in the Biodefense program, with a field specialization in Terrorism and Homeland Security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She received her B.S. in Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is currently a biologist in the Radiation Oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, where she conducts counterterrorism research developing new medical countermeasures to support medical management of radiological and nuclear events in the form of radiation biodosimetry diagnostics. Her doctoral research at Mason focuses on computational modeling of mass casualty management during a nuclear event.

ozTalha Oz, former research team member (2016-2017), is currently at Humanyze. His dissertation, Collective Stress in the Digital Age, used quantitative and computational methods to examine social responses to stressful events; these methods include data mining, machine learning, social network analysis, agent-based modeling, and quasi-experimental designs for hypothesis testing on observational behavioral data collected unobtrusively from social media. For this project, using U.S. Census demographic profile data Talha created a synthetic population, behaviors of which will be modeled during and immediately following a nuclear attack.

ozXiaoyi Yuan, a former member (2016-2018) of the research team, is presently continuing her studies elsewhere. She holds a masters degree in communication, culture, and technology from Georgetown University, where she studied patterns of online communication and opinion flow. She has completed her course work and is currently working toward defending her doctoral dissertation proposal. Her research involves using data mining, machine learning, and natural language processing to label large amounts of social media opinion (e.g., support or opposition), and apply such data to its original social networks. The research aims to inform agent-based models, specifically “opinion dynamics models,” with massive empirical data and provide validation and further insights for this area of study. For the WMD project, she applied her skills to other data sources, including U.S. census demographic data, to create synthetic populations for modeling social reactions to nuclear attacks in Manhattan, NYC.

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