Luis Bettencourt

Research Summary
I am a Professor of Ecology and Evolution and Associate Faculty in Sociology. I am also the Inaugural Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. My research investigates fundamental processes of biological and social organization and evolution in complex systems, with an emphasis on urban environments. I create multidisciplinary theory and methods to deal with integrated concepts in these complex systems, often based on network structures and processes of learning and adaptation. My research seeks to explore new data and contexts that allow for quantitative comparisons among population through time and space in order to produce new insights and theory. My work has contributed significantly to a new sense of excitement and possibility about urban science, unifying urban themes over space and time, and the convergence of ideas and methods for new insights across complex systems more generally. I teach "Introduction to Urban Sciences" (ENST 24600) and "The Mathematics of Evolution" (BIOS 13141 1) at the University of Chicago.
Complex Systems, Statistical Theory, Evolutionary Dynamics, Learning, Cities, Networks, Epidemiology, Social Processes and Institutions
  • Imperial College , London, UK, PhD Theoretical Physics 09/1996
Biosciences Graduate Program Association
Awards & Honors
  • 1998 - 2000 Director's Postdoctoral Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • 2000 - 2001 Slansky Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • 2013 - Young Leader World Cities Summit
  • 2016 - Technology and the Future of Cities Presidential Committee for the Advancement of Science and Technology
  • 2018 - 2019 Member at Large: Social, Political and Economic Sciences American Association for the Advancement of Science
  1. Urban growth and the emergent statistics of cities. Sci Adv. 2020 Aug; 6(34). View in: PubMed

  2. Urban growth and the emergent statistics of cities. Sci Adv. 2020 Aug; 6(34):eaat8812. View in: PubMed

  3. Toward cities without slums: Topology and the spatial evolution of neighborhoods. Sci Adv. 2018 08; 4(8):eaar4644. View in: PubMed

  4. Urban occupational structures as information networks: The effect on network density of increasing number of occupations. PLoS One. 2018; 13(5):e0196915. View in: PubMed

  5. Heterogeneity and scale of sustainable development in cities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 08 22; 114(34):8963-8968. View in: PubMed

  6. The Uses of Big Data in Cities. Big Data. 2014 Mar; 2(1):12-22. View in: PubMed

  7. Settlement scaling and increasing returns in an ancient society. Sci Adv. 2015 Feb; 1(1):e1400066. View in: PubMed

  8. Invention as a combinatorial process: evidence from US patents. J R Soc Interface. 2015 May 06; 12(106). View in: PubMed

  9. The scaling of human interactions with city size. J R Soc Interface. 2014 Sep 06; 11(98):20130789. View in: PubMed

  10. Determinants of the pace of global innovation in energy technologies. PLoS One. 2013; 8(10):e67864. View in: PubMed

  11. The origins of scaling in cities. Science. 2013 Jun 21; 340(6139):1438-41. View in: PubMed

  12. Evolution and structure of sustainability science. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 06; 108(49):19540-5. View in: PubMed

  13. A unified theory of urban living. Nature. 2010 Oct 21; 467(7318):912-3. View in: PubMed

  14. Clickstream data yields high-resolution maps of science. PLoS One. 2009; 4(3):e4803. View in: PubMed

  15. Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 24; 104(17):7301-6. View in: PubMed