Alessandro Vespignani

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Alessandro Vespignani is an Italian physicist and Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Computer Science and Health Sciences at Northeastern University[1], where he is the director of the Network Science Institute. Vespignani is serving in the board/leadership of a variety of professional associations, institutions and journals.

Vespignani is known for his work on complex networks, and particularly for work on the applications of network theory to the spread of disease and for studies of the topological properties of the Internet. He is author, together with Romualdo Pastor-Satorras, of the book Evolution and Structure of the Internet. Together with Alain Barrat and Marc Barthelemy he has published in 2008 the monograph Dynamical Processes on Complex Networks.

Career and Research[edit]

Alessandro Vespignani received his undergraduate degree and Ph.D., both in physics and both from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, in 1990 and 1993 respectively. Following postdoctoral research at Yale University and Leiden University, he worked at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste for five years, and briefly at the University of Paris-Sud, before moving to Indiana University in 2004 and then to Northeastern University in 2010. Vespignani has worked in a number of areas of physics, including characterization of non-equilibrium phenomena and phase transitions, and collaborated with, among others, Luciano Pietronero and Benoit Mandelbrot. He is best known, however, for his work on complex networks. He describes his current research as being focused on "interdisciplinary application of statistical and numerical simulation methods in the analysis of epidemic and spreading phenomena and the study of biological, social and technological networks."

Of particular note is his work with Romualdo Pastor-Satorras in which the two demonstrated that for a disease propagating on a random scale-free network the transmission probability or infectivity necessary to sustain an outbreak tends to zero in the limit of large network size. In practice this means that such a disease will never die out, no matter what steps are taken to reduce the probability of its transmission between individuals.


Vespignani is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He has been inducted in the Academia Europaea (section Physics and Engineering) in 2011. In 2016 he has received the Aspen Institute Italia Award for scientific research and collaboration between Italy and the United States for the research on the “Spatiotemporal spread of the 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia and the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical intervention: a computational modelling analysis.” In 2017 Vespignani received the Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Notable Publications[edit]


  1. ^ "Homepage of Alessandro Vespignani". Retrieved 17 May 2012.