Skip to main content

Professor Brian Castellani

Professor of Sociology

Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology
DRMC Director in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health
Centre Director in the Durham Research Methods Centre
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing


  • My areas of research are:
    • environmental change, social determinants and health
    • Air pollution, exposome and brain health (including cognitive function, mental health, and dementia)
    • the complexities of place and public health
    • complexity in public policy evaluation
    • computational and interdisciplinary methods for decision making
    • configurational theory and method
    • CLICK HERE for links to all publications, grants and invites.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND HEALTH: My colleagues and I have developed the InSPIRE, a research and policy consortium for mitigating the impact that air pollution and the exposome have on brain health across the life course (including cognitive function, mental health, and dementia). InSPIRE is comprised of 20+ academics across the UK and Europe and a growing stakeholder ecosystem, with links to local and UK government, including Defra and UK Health Security Agency. 
  •  METHOD: interdisciplinary methods and case-based computational modelling for decision making: 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 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.
  • POLICY EVALUATION: complexity in public policy evaluation and practice: Through my work with CECAN (Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus), my applied work presently has two foci: helping to improve how we address the complexities of public policy evaluation, and advancing a policy agenda for dealing with air quality, exposome and brain health.
  • 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. 

CLICK HERE to read my blog on all things complexity.


Research interests

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


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Other (Print)


Supervision students