Robert Ward

Ph.D. Candidate

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
Email Address:


Personal Pronouns:
He / Him

I am a PhD candidate in Public Policy coadvised by John P. Walsh and Cassidy R. Sugimoto.  I hold visiting appointments in the Systems Engineering and Evolution Dynamics group at Learning Planet Institute, Université Paris Cité, as well as the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University.  In general, my research explores the origins and consequences of social structure.  One stream of studies asks: how does the structure of formal organizations and informal communities emerge?  What are the consequences of this structure for outcomes like inequality and innovation?  How should we balance top-down control with bottom-up organization to maximize organizational performance and community welfare?  A second stream explores how social structure creates signals that affect how surprising authors and ideas are received by the scientific community.  I use and develop a wide variety of computational methods drawn from the social, computational, physical and biological sciences.  These methods contribute of large scale data-building efforts using everything from experience sampling methods, and digital traces, to evolving hypergraphs of the scientific system to measure and model how people, groups and ideas interact.  The ultimate goal of my research is to advance social theory that helps people make better decisions about how to organize and innovate.  Towards that end, I have consulted for several federal agencies within the Department of Defense, nonprofits including the iGEM Foundation, and have been invited to share my research at companies such as Google.  



Faculty Advisor:
John Walsh
  • M.P.A., John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
  • B.S., Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University
Awards and
  • President's Fellowship
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student
Areas of
  • Computational Social Science
  • Formal And Informal Organization
  • Production And Reception Of Novelty In Science And Innovation
  • Self-Organization And Controllability
  • Social And Information Networks