Joseph Albert


I am a computational scientist interested in complex and stochastic systems, statistical inference, inverse problems and emergent phenomena. I am especially interested in using statistical computing to better understand complex human-based problems such as traffic management, economics and epidemiology.


Pennsylvania State University, PhD

2014-08 — 2019-05

Network Science | Computational Physics | Molecular Dynamics | Nanomechanics | Data Mining | Active Matter | Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon University, BS

2011-08 — 2014-05

Biophysics | General Relativity | Solid State | Statistical Mechanics


Graduate Researcher, Center for Nanoscale Science (MRSEC)

2015-05 — Present

Computational physics research on the collective motion of nanoscale motors.

Graduate Assistant, Penn State

2014-08 — 2015-05

Teaching Assistant for General Physics: Mechanics (PHYS 211) and Electricity and Magnetism (PHYS 212)

Physics Tutor, Carnegie Mellon

2013-09 — 2014-05

Twice weekly led Carnegie Mellon's Physics Upper Class Course Center (PUCCC), tutoring students of CMU's upper level physics courses.

Research Intern, Membrane Structures and Interactions Lab

2013-05 — 2013-08


Skill Keywords
Python NumPy | SciPy | Matplotlib | Cython | Pandas
Statistics Maximum Likelihood | Inverse Problems | Monte Carlo | Time Series Analysis
Dynamical Systems Integro-Differential | Stochastic | Brownian | Langevin
Misc. Software Matlab | Mathematica | CLI Tools | Git & Hg


Detecting Multi-Spin Interactions in the Inverse Ising Problem


We consider inferring the coupling parameters of an Ising spin glass with multi-spin interactions. We show that the method of 'pseudo-likelihood maximization' is equivalent to fitting an identity presented by H. Callen in 1963, and present simulations testing the validity of this method of inference.

Cluster simulations of multi-spin Potts models


We present simulation results for a generalized Potts model with 1-, 2-, and 4- site Hamiltonian terms, using an extended Fortuin–Kastelyn transformation. We report critical temperatures and exponents by MCRG and a comparison of thermalization times between the cluster-percolation method and a simple Metropolis alogrithm.

Testing procedures for extracting fluctuation spectra from lipid bilayer simulations


Using simulated data we test the validity of a 'direct Fourier' method used to analyze simulated lipid bilayers with periodic boundary conditions. In a 1-D analogue we found that the plane-projected density of lipid head groups added high-q noise to fluctuation spectrum given by the direct Fourier method.


Reynolds vs. Peclet - Finite acceleration in the Stokes regime from slowly relaxing gradients, APS March Meeting 2018



Physics Concepts Outreach Program, Carnegie Mellon

2012-08 — 2013-02

One-on-one mentoring for Pittsburgh middle school students participating in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences regional competition.

Penn Pals, Center for Nanoscale Science

2017-06 — 2018-08

Served as a non-academic mentor to undergraduate researchers visiting the Penn State MRSEC as part of its research partnerships with NCCU and CSULA.

Member, Graduate and Postdoc Advisory Committee

2017-09 — 2018-09

The GPAC advises the MRSEC's leadership on policy and practice as concerns the junior membership.

Leader, Recruitment and Retention Team

2017-09 — 2018-09

The MRSEC R&R team focuses on improving professional development for graduate students working for the Center for Nanoscale science and on improving access to science careers among underrepresented minority groups.

  • Hosted mixer for current MRSEC members and incoming graduate students.
  • Arranged lunch sessions with graduate students and visiting professors.
  • Created position to maintain MRSEC's website.
  • Managed time accounting for 16 team members.
  • Represented team at NSF site visit.


Outreach Leadership Award , Penn State MRSEC


Awarded for leading the MRSEC's Recruitment and Retention team.

David C. Duncan Graduate Fellowship in Physics , Penn State


Nellie H. and Oscar L. Roberts Scholarship , Eberley College of Science


Phi Beta Kappa


College Research Honors , Mellon College of Science


Earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and carried out significant research.

Senior Leadership Recognition Award , Carnegie Mellon


Presented to graduating seniors who have made substantial contributions to the Carnegie Mellon community.