Luís Bettencourt is the inaugural director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. He is also a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, associate faculty of sociology, and external professor of complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute.
Bettencourt’s research investigates the fundamental processes of biological and social organization and evolution in complex systems, with an emphasis on cities and urbanization. His research seeks to identify and explore new data and contexts that allow for quantitative comparisons through time and space in order to produce new insights and theory. He has worked extensively on complex systems theory and modeling, cities, and urbanization.
Originally trained as a theoretical physicist, Bettencourt has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Heidelberg, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and at MIT Center for Theoretical Physics. He is the author of over 120 scientific papers and several edited books. His research has been influential in building a new understanding of cities worldwide and throughout history, as well as processes of sustainable development. His work has been featured in leading media outlets, such as The New York Times, Nature, Science, WIRED, New Scientist, and Smithsonian.