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Marcus Alexander


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Marcus Alexander, PhD
Scientist in the Human Nature Lab directed by Nicholas A. Christakis at the Yale Institute for Network Science.

Aspiring MD/PhD physician-scientist, studying medicine at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine.

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Human Nature Lab
Yale Institute for Network Science
17 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06514
Phone: (415) 658 - 5692
Twitter: @mqdicer

View of Hillhouse Ave from the lab
(left to right: Math, CS, Engineering)
Current position
I work as a scientist at the Human Nature Lab, directed by Nicholas A. Christakis at the Yale Institute for Network Science. Our lab studies biology of human sociality using the tools of population genetics, behavioral experiments, network science, and large-scale field interventions to improve public health.

Surgical Neurology Branch at the NIH

Medical training
I am currently pursuing an MD at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, where I co-founded Netgene, the school’s Genomics and Personalized Medicine Interest Group. I served on the Independent Student Analysis team as part of the Liasion Commitee on Medical Education (LCME) re-accrediation process. In 2021-22, I served as the President of the Netter Pride Alliance, the school’s sexual and gender minority group, Co-President of the Addiction Medicine Interest Group and Co-President of Netgene. I obtained my first practical clinical experience in gender-affirming medicine at the Anchor Health Initiative and in medical oncology at the Oncology Hematology Care of Connecticut. 

Previous research
I did my postdoctoral research at Stanford University working on biochemistry of RNA splicing, epigenetics of brain tumor stem cells, and next-gen sequencing of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) we engineered epigenetically using synthetic modified mRNA (mod-mRNA) without changing the cell’s genome.

Research Grants Support

The NOMIS Foundation
Research Grant

Using Social Artificial Intelligence to Modify Collective Behavior in Realistic Networks

Christakis (PI)
06/01/19 – 05/31/23
Role: Research Scientist

The purpose of the study is to design and implement heterogeneous AI-human systems, test them using the Human Nature Lab’s breadboard experimental platform, and implement these systems in real-world social networks to evaluate their effectiveness in promoting cooperation in standard economic model interactions. My role on the project involves designing and implementing behavioral economics experiments using Human Nature Lab’s online experimental platform breadboard, both in online artificial social networks and through “lab-in-the-field” experiments using face-to-face networks (mapped using Human Nature Lab’s Trellis mobile photographic census platform).

The NOMIS Foundation
Research Grant

Microbiome Biology and Social Networks in the Developing World

Christakis (PI)                        01/01/19 – 12/31/22
Role: Research Scientist

The purpose is to conduct a metagenomic microbiome study of 2,000 people who share face-to-face village social networks in rural Honduras. We are investigating the distribution of the human microbiome across social networks, the reciprocal nature of human and microbial networks, and the role of both of these types of networks on community health, prevalence of chronic conditions, and spread of infections. My role on this project is taking a lead on the design and implementation of metagenomic sequencing methods and GC-MS/MS and HPLC-MS metabolomic profiling. I work on all aspects of the study, from initial idea generation to study design and implementation, to computational bioinformatics and statistical modeling, to manuscript writing.

Tata-Yale Research Alliance
Tata Sons Limited, Tata Consultancy Services, and Tata Chemicals           

Master Collaboration and Research Agreement

Christakis (PI)                        04/20/16 – 04/19/21
Role: Research Scientist

The purpose of the Master Collaboration and Research Agreement between the Tata Group and Yale University is to establish a research and knowledge sharing collaboration between Tata and Yale to build a world-class research program focused on mutually agreed upon areas of interest. My work is on randomized controlled trials of network targeting in field interventions and online behavioral experiments on social networks using the Human Nature Lab experimental platform breadboard.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Exploiting Social Influence in Networks to Magnify Population-Level MNCH Behavior Change

Christakis (PI)                       07/01/14 – 12/31/18
Role: Research Scientist, Lead Data Analyst

The purpose of the study is to use detailed understanding of social network structure and function to identify novel ways of targeting influential individuals so as to foster behavioral cascades and population-level behavior change. This objective is achieved by conducting a randomized controlled trial of network targeting algorithms, deployed in a sample of 30,000 people across 172 villages in Honduras, with maternal and neonatal care interventions.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute on Aging 
Award # 2P30AG034420-09

The Role of social Networks in Health and Well-Being

Christakis (PI)                      09/30/14 – 05/31/19
Role: Research Scientist, Pilot Study Lead
Our lab’s Roybal Center’s two overarching goals of our work are (1) to ask significant questions about the role of social networks in producing specific outcomes related to health and well-being, and (2) to develop methods of answering such questions involving real social networks in which behavioral information relevant to health and wellbeing can be measured. My work includes pilot studies on network targeting interventions, on social crowdsourcing for health testing/screening in marginalized communities, and on microbiome metagenomics and social networks.


  • Fellowship Traineeship, Summer Internship Program (SIP) for MD students, National Institutes of Health  
  • Summer Research Fellowship, Frank H. Netter MD Scool of Medicine
  • Primary Care Fellowship, Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institutes MD Research Fellowship (Project: “Histone Modifications in Brain Tumor Stem Cells”)
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Medical Student Summer Fellowship Program
  • Frances G. Baird Medical Scholars Fellowship, Stanford University (Project: "Engineering RNA Cooperativity")
  • The Stanford Clinical and Translational Networking Program, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Frances G. Baird Medical Scholars Fellowship, Stanford University (Project: "Metal Ions in RNA Catalysis")
  • Kaiser Fellowship Fund, Stanford University
  • Kolos Scholarship, Stanford University
  • Taubman Center Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Russell Sage Foundation Research Award for Behavioral Economics
  • Political Economy Fellowship, Harvard University
  • Inequality and Social Policy Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Econometric Society World Congress Bursary
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, Center for Public Leadership, Kennedy School of Government
  • Laboratory in Comparative Ethnic Processes research workshop grant, UCSD
  • Abby and George O'Neill Fund Grant, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
  • Travel Grant, Department of Government, Harvard University
  • Travel Grant, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University
  • Dillon Fellowship, Harvard University
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, Harvard University
  • Sir John Hicks Award in Economic History, Department of Economics, Oxford
  • Department Fund Grant, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford
  • Hulme Grant, Brasenose College, Oxford
  • Clarendon Fund Award, University of Oxford
  • Markle Junior Research Fellowship, PCMLP, Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford
  • Fox International Fellowship, Yale University
  • European Union Grant, Yale University
  • Frank Patterson Prize, Yale University Political Science Department
  • Tristan Perlroth PRize, Yale Center for International and Area Studies
  • Trumbull College Class of '55 Fellowship, Trumbull College, Yale University
  • Strongman Memorial Scholarship
  • British Columbia Provincial Scholarship Canada Governor's General Bronze Medal

See my academic tree here.

My ERDŐS NUMBER is 5. Here is my proof, an easy extention based on the one by my PhD advisor Nicholas A. Christakis:
  1. Erdos P, Lovasz L, Simmons GJ, Strauss EG. Dissection graphs of planar point sets, in: A Survey of Combinatorial Theory (ed. S. Srivastava), Springer (1973), 139–149.
  2. Palla G, Lovasz L, Vicsek T, Multifractal network generator, PNAS 2010; 107: 7640–7645.
  3. Neda Z,  Ravasz E, Brechet Y, Vicsek T, Barabási AL, Self-organizing processes: The sound of many hands clapping, Nature 2000; 403: 849-850.
  4. Hidalgo CA, Blumm N, Barabási AL,, Christakis NA, “A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes,” PLoS Computational Biology 5(4): e1000353. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000353 (April 2009) MS#098
  5. Alexander M, Christakis NA. Bias and asymmetric loss in expert forecasts: a study of physician prognostic behavior with respect to patient survival. J Health Econ. 2008 Jul;27(4):1095-1108. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 Mar 18. PMID: 18539349. [link]

Newton (top) and Rosaling (bellow)