Damon Centola, Ph.D.

Portrait of Damon Centola
Professor of Communication, Sociology and Engineering
Director, Network Dynamics Group; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Damon Centola is a Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Network Dynamics Group and Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

His research addresses social networks and behavior change. His work has been published across several disciplines in journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Journal of Sociology, and Journal of Statistical Physics. Centola received the American Sociological Association’s Award for Outstanding Research in Mathematical Sociology in 2006, 2009, and 2011; the Goodman Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Sociological Methodology in 2011; the James Coleman Award for Outstanding Research in Rationality and Society in 2017; and the Harrison White Award for Outstanding Scholarly Book in 2019. He was a developer of the NetLogo agent based modeling environment, and was awarded a U.S. Patent for inventing a method to promote diffusion in online networks. He is a member of the Sci Foo community and Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Centola’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Facebook, the National Institutes of Health, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. He is a series editor for Princeton University Press, and the author of How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions, and Change: The Power in the Periphery to Make Big Things Happen.

Before coming to Penn, Centola was an Assistant Professor at M.I.T. and a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow at Harvard University. His speaking and consulting clients include Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Cigna, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Heart Association, the National Academies, the U.S. Army, and the NBA. Popular accounts of his work have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, TIME, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and CNN.


Uploaded on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 11:20am
Social media networks, which often foster partisan antagonism, may also offer a solution to reducing political polarization, according to new...
Uploaded on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 - 9:55am
In a new book published by Princeton University Press, Professor Damon Centola explains that contrary to the idea that everything "goes viral," the...
Uploaded on Thursday, June 7, 2018 - 11:24am
A study in Science by Professor Damon Centola finds that when 25% of people in a group adopt a new social norm, it creates a tipping point where the...
Uploaded on Monday, June 12, 2017 - 3:37pm
When people talk to each other, together they can make smarter decisions than they can on their own. Professor Damon Centola, along with Ph.D....
Uploaded on Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 8:37am
Research by the Network Dynamics Group at the Annenberg School for Communication compared different ways that exercise programs motivate people to...


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Damon Centola studies social networks and behavior change. His work identifies the social causes of disease outbreaks; the origins of political conflict and ideological polarization; and the dynamics of tipping points in social norms.
Pronouns: he/him

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Centola's Network

  • Digital Media and Social Networks
  • Health Communication
  • Media and Communication Effects
  • Media Institutions and Systems
  • Annenberg Public Policy Center
  • Center for Media at Risk
  • Network Dynamics