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Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology109, Back of 32 Old Elvet 
DRMC Director in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health  
Fellow in the Durham Research Methods Centre  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


  • My areas of research are:
    • case-based complexity and computational modelling
    • the complexities of place and public health
    • complexity and psychology, including cognition, emotions and consciousness
    • configurational complexity theory
    • complexity methods for policy evaluation
    • big data and digital sociology
    • CLICK HERE for links to all publications, grants and invites.
  • THEORY: Configurational complexity theory and method: Over the past fifteen years I have been developing a theoretical and methodological framework for studying social complexity, which is based on a case-based configurational approach. In particular, I am focused on how social science theory informs the insights of complexity science, as in the case of power relations, inequality, and human psychology. 
  • PSYCHOLOGY AND COMPLEXITY: I have been developing a theoretical framework for stitching together research on embodied cognition, emotion, and consciousness, from cells and bacteria to the dynamic unconscious and the self to nonconscious machine cognition. Currently I am applying this work to two topics -- the impact air pollution has on brain health and the role collective psychology plays in civil society.
  •  METHOD: case-based computational modelling: I have spent the past ten years developing a new case-based, data-mining approach to modeling complex social systems – called the SACS Toolkit – which my colleagues and I have used to help researchers, policy makers and service providers address and improve complex public health issues such as community health and well-being; infrastructure and grid reliability; mental health and inequality; big data and data mining; and globalization and global civil society.
  • We have also recently developed Durham COMPLEX-IT, an R-studio software app, which provides policy evaluators (and those working in health, food, environment and social service sectors) seamless access to such high-powered techniques as machine intelligence, neural nets, and agent-based modeling to make better sense of the complex world(s) in which they live and work. It is freely downloadable and soon to be developed into an online version.
  • APPLICATION: case-based, policy evaluation and air pollution and public health: Through my work with CECAN (Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus), my applied work presently has two foci: helping to improve policy evaluation, particularly in terms of public health; and also geospatially and temporally modelling the complex link between air pollution in the UK and public health, in particular cognitive wellbeing.

CLICK HERE to read my blog on all things complexity.


Research interests

  • Air pollution and brain health, including dementia
  • Complexities of place and health
  • Case-based complexity and computational modelling
  • Complexity and psychology, including cognition, emotions, and consciousness
  • Configurational complexity theory
  • Big data and digital sociology
  • Complexity methods for policy evaluation

Research groups

  • Health and Social Theory

Awarded Grants

  • 2020: 2020: RF200182: PI InSPIRE - Consortium Development Grant, UKPRP (MRC). 2020-05-01 - 2020-12-17, £41k
  • 2020: 2020: RF200186: Early Warning Scores: Modelling Care in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, MRC, £39.7k
  • 2020: RG200004: PI Exploring the Complex Policy Landscape Around Air Pollution and Public Health: A 2-Day Workshop, 2020-03-05 - 2020-03-06, £15k
  • 2019: 2019: RF200166 Co-I. CECAN - Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus. PI: Prof. Nigel Gilbert. ESRC. 2019-03-01 - 2022-02-28. £3.8mil
  • 2019: RI200179: Co-I Agent-Based Modelling Covid-19, ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN), 2019-04-01 - 2020-03-30, £16.1k
  • 2019: RT200146: Co-I Motivation and Complexity, Leverhulme Trust, 2019-10-01 - 2022-09-30, £112.1k
  • 2018: RI200008: PI DURHAM COMPLEX-IT: A web-based computational modelling and visualisation platform and learning environment for evaluating public policy and services, ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN), 2018-11-2

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Human impact:
  • Pollution:
  • Drink & drugs:
  • Public policy, health and well-being:
  • Statistics:
  • Politics & Society:
  • Psychology:
  • Sociology:


Authored book

Book review

  • Castellani, Brian (2016). The Value of Systems and Complexity Sciences for Healthcare. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 19(4).
  • Castellani, Brian (2013). Moreira, T. The Transformation of Contemporary Health Care: The Market, the Laboratory, and the Forum. London: Routledge. 2012.(hbk) vii+ 181 pp. ISBN 13: 978-0-415-88600-0. Sociology of Health \& Illness 35(3): 496-497.
  • Castellani, Brian (2012). Review of Social Understanding: On Hermeneutics, Geometrical Models and Artificial Intelligence (Theory and Decision Library A:).
  • Castellani, Brian (2010). Review of Mind \& Society: Special Issue on Social Simulation, Volume 8, Number 2, 2009.

Chapter in book

Conference Proceeding

  • Aitchison, Katherine J, Castellani, Brian, Chapman, Craig S, Christensen, Darren R, Crawford, Sandy, Currie, Cheryl, Downs, Carolyn, Euston, David, Forrest, David, Goodyear, Bradley G & others (2014). Controversial Topics in Gambling: Alberta Gambling Research Institute's 13th Annual Conference. Various.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Castellani, Brian (2014). FOCUS: Complexity and the failure of quantitative social science. Discover Society 12: 12.
  • Castellani,B (2014). Brian Castellani on the Complexity Sciences. October 9th 2014.
  • HAFFERTY, FREDERIC & CASTELLANI, BRIAN (2010). La complejidad creciente del profesionalismo. LA SALUD 85(2): 39.
  • Castellani, Brian (2001). Is pathological gambling really a problem?-You bet! Psychiatric Times 18(2).

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Castellani,B (Published). Map of the complexity sciences.


Supervision students