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Christopher L. Barrett

  • Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity, Biocomplexity Institute
  • Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Christopher Barrett Headshot


Christopher L. Barrett is an endowed Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity, the Executive Director of the Biocomplexity Institute, and Professor of 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 multiscale interaction systems. Over 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. He has served in various advisory and collaborative scientific roles internationally.

Barrett is the recipient of the 2012–2013 Jubilee Professorship in Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers University in 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 U.S. government agencies, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the European Commission and others. He holds seven patents and has ten pending.

Full Biography | CV | Faculty Page

  • 2021 Elected Member: Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine
    2013 Army Patriot Award recipient: given to outstanding employers of members of the U.S. Army Reserve
    2012–2013 Jubilee Distinguished Professor of Computer Science: Chalmers University, Götebörg, Sweden, Department of Computer Science
    2011 Invited Participant: The Royal Colloquium Series, “The Future Urban World: Environment, Equity, Economy,” The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, by HM King Carl XVI Gustav
    2006–2013 Guest Scientist, Coordinator for Graduate Course on Complex Systems: Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation (ISI), Turin, Italy
    2000 Distinguished Innovation & Entrepreneurialism: Copyright Award, Los Alamos National Laboratory
    1999 Invited Participant: The Abisko Workshop, “Meso-Scale Complexity,” The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences
    1998 Distinguished Invited Scholar: Artificial Life and Robotics, Oita University, Japan
    1995 Distinguished Achievement Award: Los Alamos National Laboratory
    1993 Distinguished Performance Award: Los Alamos National Laboratory
    1992 Distinguished Research Award: Alliance for Transportation Research
    1991 Letter of Appreciation (FAA Administrator) for membership on Administrator’s Science Panel: National Air Traffic Control System Ten-Year Technology Improvement Plan
    1988 U.S. Navy Commendation Medal: Research and Development in Automated Assisted Reasoning Systems for Naval Aircraft
In the News

In alignment with the University of Virginia’s goal to move its research from prominence to preeminence, deans, faculty, and researchers from across Grounds got together to participate in the formal launch of the Contagion Science program, an initiative funded by the University as part of its Prominence-to-Preeminence STEM initiative.

Epidemic Response

Researchers from UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science, working with a team of multi-disciplinary scientists from around the world, have spent the last two years developing highly advanced computational models designed to inform policy makers, save lives and prepare for future global epidemics.

Biocomplexity Institute News

Dr. Christopher L. Barrett has been elected to the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM). 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.


When the coronavirus reached Virginia, public health officials worried there would be so many patients, they would need to start building field hospitals right away. But a team of University of Virginia scientists, part of the Biocomplexity Institute, told the state to wait. The governor’s stay-at-home order, quarantines and social distancing that began in March 2020 could slow the disease’s spread.

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Biocomplexity Institute News

Fox is considered a pioneer in the fields now known as computational and data science, and he has brought his considerable influence and expertise to the University of Virginia, where he joined the faculty of the Biocomplexity Institute and the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Computer Science in July.

Biocomplexity Institute News

On January 29, during a virtual ceremony over Zoom, the University of Virginia honored and recognized faculty members for their outstanding contributions to their fields and the impact of their research and scholarly activities at the annual Research Achievement Awards.

UVAToday (black)

Universities may have meticulous plans for social distancing and sanitization, but those are only in effect while students are in class or on campus. What happens when students leave campus for the day or go back to their dorms, has just as much of an impact on how colleges will fair with COVID-19. 

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Biocomplexity Institute News

The University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute is pleased to announce Dr. Christopher L. Barrett, Executive Director of the Biocomplexity Institute and Professor of Computer Science, was honored with the first Distinguished Professorship in Biocomplexity, an endowed faculty appointment recently approved by the UVA Board of Visitors. 

Biocomplexity Institute News

One of the University of Virginia’s most ambitious research efforts is beginning to take shape. In the past several months, UVA announced and introduced the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative, which commenced operations in the UVA Research Park in September 2018, and most recently, appointed five individuals to join Executive Director Dr. Christopher L. Barrett on the senior leadership team.

Selected Publications
Mathematical Biocomplexity
Preprint/Prospective Article

The energy-spectrum of bicompatible sequences

Huang F; Barrett C; Reidys C . arXiv preprint arXiv:1910.00190. Cornell University. 2019;