U.S. Navy Aerospace Experimental Psychology, Medical Service Corps Post Ph.D. Certification, 1986California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in Bioinformation Systems and Engineering Science, 1985California Institute of Technology, M.S., Engineering Science, 1983University of New Mexico, B.S., 1976

"The Biocomplexity Institute encourages formal, analytical and computational methods that unify approaches to disparate problems ranging from biomolecular science to public policy. Our transdisciplinary teams of research scientists create analytical innovations that extend human capability to understand and manage massive interdependencies in the real world. Such problems do not normally conform to disciplinary boundaries or convenient scales; they do not conform to distinctions between engineering and basic science. However, scientific pursuit of ever-improving approaches to these complex problems - as they occur - is critical to human survival. "

Christopher L. Barrett, Executive Director, Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative


Research interests include:

Dynamical Networks, Theoretical and Applied Research Intelligent Systems,
Translational Research-to-Application Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning



Christopher L. Barrett is the inaugural Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity, Executive Director of the Biocomplexity Institute, and Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. He is an interdisciplinary computational scientist who has published more than 100 research articles exploring all aspects of large multi-scale interaction systems. During the past 35 years, Barrett has conceived, founded, and led large interdisciplinary complex systems research projects and organizations, established national and international technology programs, and co-founded organizations for federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Barrett is the recipient of the 2012–2013 Jubilee Professorship in Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers University in Göteborg, Sweden and is a member of the 2010 Royal Colloquium for the King of Sweden. He was a Distinguished International Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (1997–1998). He has received distinguished research, service, advisory and security awards from the U.S. Navy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Alliance for Transportation Research. He has served as advisor to many organizations, including U.S. government agencies, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the European Commission. He holds seven patents and has nine pending.

Full Biography  


  • Jubilee Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University, Göteborg, Sweden 2012–2013
  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Los Alamos National Laboratory 1995
  • Meritorious Service Medal (U.S. Navy) for research and development in automated assisted reasoning systems for naval aircraft 1988

Research Interests

  • Large multi-scale, high-performance modeling and simulation systems grounded in computational and information sciences spanning mathematical, biological, psychological and social sciences
  • Dynamical Networks called Sequential/Graphical systems grounded in topics ranging from RNA to social dynamics and policy
  • Theoretical and applied research in intelligent systems
  • Translational research-to-application analytics and machine intelligence

In the News


    Biocomplexity Institute

    The UVA Biocomplexity Institute was recently awarded a five-year $10 million collaborative grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead more than 40 researchers from 14 U.S. institutions and more than 20 internationally renowned partners in a massive project titled, “Expeditions in Computing: Global Pervasive Computational Epidemiology,” to revolutionize real-time epidemiology. The grant funding spans from April 2020 through April 2025.

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    UVA Today article by Meredith Cole

    Biocomplexity Institute Executive Director, Dr. Christopher L. Barrett, listed among top 25 researchers honored.


    The Daily Progress article by Ruth Serven Smith

    The inaugural Computing for Global Challenges Symposium showcased the Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing division’s Summer students and their research projects. Student projects covered a range of topics, including bacterial quorum sensing, RNA sequence analysis, flu forecasting, transportation modeling, and disaster resilience, among others. Dr. Christopher L. Barrett was the keynote speaker. The topic of his talk was Agency, Awareness and Privacy in the Emerging Psychosocial Information Technology: Who/What studies the systems that study themselves?

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    Biological Phenomena — Christopher Barrett, PhD, Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative — Biocomplexity, Answers Leading to Questions and More Answers As Scientists Seek To Understand the Myriad Pathways to Disease

    Chris Barrett talks about the ultimate goal of the Institute’s research: to be prepared for the worst-case scenario—a global pandemic.

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    UVA Today article by Fariss Samarrai

    The University of Virginia is developing a new statewide, multi-site “Biocomplexity Initiative” that seeks to employ the principles of interdisciplinary team science to integrate such diverse disciplines as molecular science and public policy analysis in order to solve complex and multidimensional problems in medicine and society.

    Chris Barrett, a global leader in applying computer science concepts and tools to making new discoveries in complex systems involving human health, habitat and well-being, will lead the initiative. He has directed the Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Tech for the past four years and is a professor of computer science. He comes to UVA in September to establish an institute that will collaborate with researchers across Virginia.

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Selected Publications

  • Sequence-structure relations of biopolymers ABS Barrett C, Huang F, Reidys C. Bioinformatics, 33 (3):382–389. (2018)
  • Multiplicity of phenotypes and RNA evolution ABS Rezazadegan R, Barrett C, Reidys C. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 447:139–46. (2018)
  • A Simulation Environment for the Dynamic Evaluation of Disaster Preparedness Policies and Interventions ABS Lewis B, Swarup S, Bisset K, Eubank S, Marathe M, Barrett C. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 19: S42-S48. (2013)
  • Human Initiated Cascading Failures in Societal Infrastructures. ABS Barrett C, Channakeshava K, Huang F, Kim J, Marathe A, Marathe M, Pei G, Saha S, Subbiah R, Vullikanti A PLoS ONE, 7(10): e45406. (2012)
  • Economic and social impact of influenza mitigation strategies by demographic class ABS Barrett C, Bisset K, Leidig J, Marathe A, Marathe M Epidemics ournal, 3(1):19-31. (2011)
  • Predecessor existence problems for finite discrete dynamical systems ABS Barrett C, Hunt III H, Marathe M, Ravi S, Rosenkrantz D, Stearns R, Thakur M. Theoretical Computer Science, 386(1–2):3–37. (2007)
  • Complexity of reachability problems for finite discrete dynamical systems ABS Barrett C, Hunt III H, Marathe, M, Ravi, S, Rosenkrantz, D, Stearns, R Journal of Computer and System Sciences, 72(8):1317–1345. (2006)
  • The distance-2 matching problem and its relationship to the MAC-layer capacity of ad hoc wireless networks ABS Balakrishnan H, Barrett C, Vullikanti A, Marathe M, Thite S IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, 22(6):1069-1079. (2004)
  • Reachability problems for sequential dynamical systems with threshold functions ABS Barrett C, Hunt III HB, Marathe M, Ravi S, Rosenkrantz D, Stearns R Theoretical Computer Science, 295(1–3): 41–64. (2003)
  • TRANSIMS: Transportation analysis simulation system. Los Alamos National Laboratory Unclassified Report (unclassified). Barrett C, Beckman R, Berkbigler K, Bisset K, Bush B, Campbell K, Marathe M (2001)
  • Elements of a theory of simulation II: sequential dynamical systems ABS Barrett C, Mortveit H, Reidys C Applied Mathematics and Computation, 107(2-3):121-136.(2000)
  • Formal language constrained path problems ABS SIAM Journal of Computing Barrett C, Jacob R, Marathe M , 30(3):809–837.(2000)
  • Using Microsimulation Feedback For Trip Adaptation For Realistic Traffic In Dallas ABS Nagel K, Barrett C International Journal of Modern Physics C, 08(03):505-525.(1997)