Edward (Eddie) Lee

I am a scientist at the intersection of physics and society—using physics ideas, intuition, and models to search for general principles in human behavior. I focus on systems where detailed data permit rigorous quantitative tests of theory. I've worked on the emergence of blocs in group decision making (e.g. voting in the US Supreme Court) and the spread of conflict (e.g. in monkey and human societies).

In particular, I am interested in harnessing the tools of statistical physics to investigate universal behavior in conflict and decision making across human societies. Universality is a remarkable concept from statistical physics where apparently different systems display the same quantitative regularities. Such universal principles offer a powerful framework for understanding human society in the context of the natural sciences.

Here's a nice review of the history of Physics in social behavior, and Philip Ball has written an inspiring book, Critical Mass, showing how conceptual frameworks from physics provide insight to social behavior.

My work has been covered in Wired, Ars Technica, Cosmos Magazine, and the Cornell Chronicle.


I am a PhD candidate in Theoretical Physics at Cornell University advised by Professor Paul Ginsparg and planning to graduate in December of 2019. I graduated from Princeton University in 2012 with an AB in Physics and a Certificate in Biophysics and received an MSc in Physics from Cornell University in 2018. I am part of the Center for Complexity & Collective Computation at the Santa Fe Institute.

You can contact me at [email protected] My GitHub is https://github.com/eltrompetero.

My CV is available here.

One of my main, non-research activities is dancing as a bboy. I am part of Absolute Zero, the breakdancing group at Cornell. I also enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, drinking tea, and writing about science.