UH Hosts Social Decisions Workshop

Will Foster an Interdisciplinary Approach to Social Decision-Making Research

An interdisciplinary group of University of Houston researchers is hosting a two-day Social Decisions Workshop, focusing on research about how people make collective decisions.

Social Decisions Workshop 2019

“We want to spark conversations and establish collaborations,” said Alexander Stewart, an assistant professor of biology and one of the organizers for the workshop. Other organizers include Kevin Bassler, Moores Professor of Physics and Mathematics and chair of the physics department, as well as professor of mathematics Krešimir Josić.

With attendance capped at 50, participants are coming from all over, including researchers from University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Sorbonne University.

“We are trying to leverage expertise in mathematics, physics and biology, to understand the ways social decisions are made,” Bassler said.

The idea for this workshop came out of a recent collaboration, where Stewart, along with a group of other researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford and University of Pennsylvania, examined the effect of social media platforms on political decision-making. For Stewart, this represented a departure from his usual research focus on the evolution of social behavior.

The success of this collaboration inspired Stewart to organize a workshop that would bring together researchers from multiple fields to answer a common problem.

“There are a lot of people thinking about social decision problems from a lot of different perspectives who aren't necessarily talking to each other,” Stewart said.

This workshop will take place on the University of Houston campus, on October 10-11, and has received funding from the Departments of Biology and Biochemistry, Mathematics and Physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and UH’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute.

- Rachel Fairbank, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics