James Evans

Director, Knowledge Lab; Professor, Sociology, University of Chicago; Fellow, Computation Institute; Faculty Director, Masters in Computational Social Science Program

(773) 702-9168
5757 S. University Avenue, Saieh Hall 252

His research focuses on the collective system of thinking and knowing, ranging from the distribution of attention and intuition, the origin of ideas and shared habits of reasoning to processes of agreement (and dispute), accumulation of certainty (and doubt), and the texture—novelty, ambiguity, topology—of human understanding. He is especially interested in innovation—how new ideas and practices emerge—and the role that social and technical institutions (e.g. the Internet, markets, collaborations) play in collective cognition and discovery. Much of his work has focused on areas of modern science and technology, but he is also interested in other domains of knowledge—news, law, religion, gossip, hunches and historical modes of thinking and knowing. He supports the creation of novel observatories for human understanding and action through crowd sourcing, information extraction from text and images, and the use of distributed sensors (e.g. RFID tags, cell phones). He uses machine learning, generative modeling, social and semantic network representations to explore knowledge processes, scale up interpretive and field-methods, and create alternatives to current discovery regimes. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Templeton Foundation and other sources, and has been published in ScienceAmerican Journal of SociologySocial Studies of Science,Administrative Science QuarterlyPLoS Computational Biology and other journals. My work has been featured in Nature, the EconomistAtlantic MonthlyWiredNPRBBCEl PaísCNN and many other outlets.

At Chicago, he is the Director of Knowledge Lab (http://knowledgelab.org), which has collaborative, granting and employment opportunities, as well as ongoing seminars. He also sponsors the Computational Social Science workshop (with John Brehm) and the Knowledge-Value workshop (with John Kelly) and co-organizes the Rational Choice workshop (with Gary Becker, Richard Posner & Glen Weyl).  He teaches courses in the history of modern science, science studies, computational content analysis, and Internet and Society. Before Chicago, he received his doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, served as a research associate in the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets group at Harvard Business School, started a private high school focused on project-based arts education, and completed a BA  in Anthropology and Economics at Brigham Young University.