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 Physics at Cornell University advised by Professor Paul Ginsparg, graduating in December of 2019, and taking a post-doctoral research position at the Santa Fe Institute in 2020. 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 a Fellow of the Collective Computation Group at the Santa Fe Institute and was formerly a research fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

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

My CV is available here.

I have experience with computational data analysis and simulation (i.e., mostly Python but including Matlab, Mathematica, C++, Unreal Engine 4), statistical inference and model fitting (e.g., Bayesian approaches, maximum likelihood, etc.), machine learning algorithms, networks, and other topics related to statistical physics.

One of my main, non-research activities is breakdancing (bboying). I am part of Absolute Zero, the bboy/bgirl group at Cornell. I'm a science fiction fan, a coffee drinker, an aspiring science writer, and an aspiring DJ.