Dr. Christopher L. Barrett has been elected to the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM). Barrett, Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity and Executive Director of the University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia, is a global leader in bringing computational science and the principles of interdisciplinary team science to the study and practice of systems at the junction of biological, cognitive, social and technological interaction. He said he is surprised and honored to be a newly minted member of VASEM and looks forward to collaborating with fellow members on some of the most pressing problems facing our society today, including national security, transportation, public health, industry, and environmental issues.
Known for his original basic and applied work in complex systems ranging from using AI in national security platforms to the interaction of human health, habitat and well-being, Barrett learned of his appointment in a congratulatory letter from VASEM President James Aylor, who welcomed Barrett to the academy and said he was extremely excited to have Barrett added to the list of members.
After a rigorous nomination and review process, Barrett is among five new members elected to VASEM this year, including fellow UVA Engineering professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment and Associate Director of the Link Lab, Jonathan Goodall, bringing its total membership to 150 noteworthy individuals from across Virginia.
VASEM was formed in 2013 to provide nonpartisan, objective guidance to decision makers in the Commonwealth on the most difficult, challenging issues of the day. VASEM’s mission aligns with that of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which has tapped the expertise and experience of the nation’s most accomplished and innovative leaders in science, engineering, and medicine since 1863. VASEM holds annual summits on issues of concern to Virginians, from the future of transportation to preparedness for emerging disease. It has also produced a highly regarded report for the General Assembly with a roadmap for expanding the state’s aerospace industry and a similar report on coastal resilience. Since its founding, made possible with the support of Sen. Mark Warner, the National Academies, National Academy members, and other key individuals from Virginia, VASEM has become a model for other state academies across the nation.
Barrett will bring his expertise and knowledge to VASEM and should feel right at home doing so. In the span of 35 years as an interdisciplinary computational scientist, Barrett has achieved a prestigious publication record and conceived, founded, and led large interdisciplinary complex systems research projects, ranging from global national security systems and infrastructure analytics to basic molecular bioinformatics. He is particularly known for establishing novel complexity-oriented research organizations, including the Decision Aid Research Team at the Naval Air Development Center, Basic and Applied Simulation Science Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech and the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia. In addition, he has established novel national and international technology and research programs, co-founded organizations for the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Homeland Security, and has served in various advisory and collaborative scientific roles internationally.