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Brian Castellani

Professor of Sociology (University of Durham)

I am Director of the Durham Research Methods Centre, Co-Director of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, and Director of InSPIRE, a research and policy consortium for mitigating the impact of air pollution on brain health and dementia. In terms of external affiliations, I am Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, Northeast Ohio Medical University; Co-Editor of the Routledge Complexity in Social Science series; and a Co-I at CECAN (Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus). I am trained as a sociologist, clinical psychologist and methodologist. 

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 
  • Social complexity and 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. 


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CECAN Update (July 2023)

CECAN Update (July 2023)

Take a look at our latest CECAN update to find out more about what we’ve been working on and activities coming soon.

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