Overview: Our Mission & Methods

As a leading Laboratory of the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL) is helping to predict the spread and scale of emerging infectious diseases like Ebola, understand the vulnerabilities in physical infrastructures caused by natural and man-made disasters, and model the spread of social phenomena like mass incarceration and civil unrest.

group photo of Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory research team

Simulation science has the power to transform how we predict emerging trends and respond to urgent crises. Our research develops synthetic information tools that are powerful enough to model an entire country’s population and refined enough to represent the millions of molecular interactions that help our immune systems function.

Creating simulation systems with the capacity to solve real-world problems requires a broad range of expertise. The NDSSL team includes both student scholars and established thought leaders in a wide variety of fields: statistics, public health, computer science, economics, mathematics and complex systems.

NDSSL’s mission to develop accessible decision support tools is backed by more than a decade of experience collaborating with federal agencies and fellow research organizations. Our location in the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech’s primary campus facility allows our team to work closely with experts across the university. NDSSL’s newest partnerships and discoveries are regularly profiled on our news page, while a list of upcoming presentations is available on our events archive.

Innovation: Our Research Focus Areas

a simulated city environment

Science cannot predict the future, but it can make problem solving more efficient than ever before. Advances in simulation science enable our researchers to test solutions to complex issues like sustainable energy development and the spread of invasive species within a virtual environment. Our findings allow real-world resources to be directed toward intervention strategies with the highest likelihood of success.

To support effective decision making in the service of human health, habitat, and well-being, the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science laboratory has focused its technological innovations toward seven major domains of research.

Simulation Science and Analytics integrates information from disparate systems to help leaders take a “big picture” approach to major issues. Our research bridges the gap between decision-makers and data, allowing societal systems to leverage an ever-expanding range of actionable information. 

Global Synthetic Information Systems employs high-performance computing technology to simulate systems of varying scales: as simple as a cell or as complex as a city. We create virtual environments that allow decision-makers to assess and plan effective strategies.

Network Science can be applied to analyze complex systems and identify the source of widespread phenomena. Our research simplifies network analysis, offering flexible tools to explain, predict, and visualize the behavior of massively interacting systems.  

Public Health research in NDSSL uses detailed computer simulations to forecast the spread of infectious disease and optimize the delivery of medical resources. We are experts in predicting the scope and severity of dangerous outbreaks.

Systems Biology uses computational modeling to simulate the interactions that keep our bodies healthy and predict how our internal networks will function under varying conditions. Our work helps scientists identify promising new pathways for treating disease.

Infrastructure, Security and Resilience utilizes computer simulations to determine how the services and facilities that help our society function can be made more resilient. Our research guides the growth of efficient, sustainable infrastructure.

Social and Behavioral Modeling research can be applied to analyze complex systems and identify how particular sets of social interactions help drive the spread of behaviors like smoking addiction and civil protest. NDSSL studies uncover how social forces promote change within a system.

Collaboration: Our Research Partnerships

Since its founding in 2004, NDSSL has developed its world-class computational modeling capabilities in support of the Biocomplexity Institute’s overarching mission to predict, explain, and visualize the behavior of massively interacting systems.

group photo of biocomplexity institute leadership with virginia tech president

Backed by the Biocomplexity Institute’s diverse research programs and unique, high-performance computing infrastructure, NDSSL has established long-term partnerships with a variety of governmental and commercial organizations such as the Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, National Instititue of Health, Center for Disease Control, Metabiota and Persistent Systems.

Want to learn more about how working with NDSSL can benefit your organization? Contact us with your questions or visit our collaborators page to see the results of our recent partnerships.

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