Page de Pablo Jensen

48 ans, married, two children (Marco and Emilia)
born in La Plata (Argentine)
pablo.jensen . at.
IXXI - Institut des Systèmes Complexes

After a PhD on experimental condensed-matter physics, I worked for 15 years on the modeling of nanostructure growth. This lead to major publications in top journals, including Nature, Phys Rev Lett and a widely cited review in Rev Mod Phys. After these achievements, I decided to follow an unconventional path and switch to the modeling of social systems. It takes time to become familiar with social science topics and literature, but it is mandatory to establish serious interdisciplinary connections. This long-term investment explains the gap in publications in the early 2000’s. During that period, I also had national responsibilities at CNRS, to improve communication of physics. This investment has now started to pay, as shown by recent publications in major interdisciplinary or social science (geography, economics, sociology) journals, including PNAS, J Pub Eco and British J Sociology. My present work takes advantage of the avalanche of social data available on the Web to improve our understanding of society. To achieve this, I collaborate with hard scientists to develop appropriate analysis tools and with social scientists to find relevant questions and interpretations.

1986-1990 Student at Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon, which is one of the top French « grandes écoles » for research.
1990 : PhD at Université de Lyon : « Thermal metastability of undoped amorphous silicon »

1990 : CNRS permanent position at Condensed matter department at University of Lyon.
1993 : 1-year post-doc at Boston University in HE Stanley lab
1995 : Habilitation à diriger des recherches
2003 : 2-months invited Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles
2005 : Directeur de Recherches CNRS at Physics Lab, ENS de Lyon

Head of Complex Systems Institute in Lyon (, which gathers more than 200 scientists from many domains and seven institutions (2007 - 2014)
Director of the interdisciplinary Master (computer science, mathematics, physics) at ENS de Lyon: « Modeling Complex Systems » (2008 - 2014)
National project manager of science – society dialogue for physics and mathematics at CNRS (Paris), 2001-2005
National project manager of interdisciplinarity between physics and social sciences at CNRS (2011 - 2013)
Head of Lyon’s scientific cafés, where I supervised two employees and the choice of the scientific topics to be discussed (1997-2005)

8 Ph D students, including three joint supervisions with economists.
3 post-docs

Awards and honors
best CNRS young researcher in condensed matter (1992)
best Lyon's young researcher, 3000€ (1992)
best popularization invention for "cafés scientifiques" by the Rotary Club, 8000€ (1999)
best paper among 700 in the World Conference on Transportation, 500€ (2005)

Invitations and citations
3 invited plenary talks at international conferences and 3 lectures at international Summer Schools
More than 60 papers in international journals from physics, economics or sociology, including Nature, PNAS, Rev Mod Phys, British J Sociol and J Public Economics. These papers have gathered more than 2000 citations (h-index=22 in the Web of Science as of Dec 27th, 2011)

Generating a constructive dialogue between science and society has been one of my constant priorities, as I feel that citizens, who finance our work, deserve our attention. Book "Atoms in my cappucino!" published in 2001 and sold at more than 10 000 copies (with a nice review by Nature, 7 June 2001 411 637)
Creation of the first café scientifique « Science and Citizens » in France (1997), which I presented in a column in the newspaper Le Monde (Dec 22, 1998). Plenary talk in the first international conference (Newcastle, 2004; see Nature 429 333)
First study of public engagement practices thanks to a comprehensive quantitative survey (P Jensen, Who's helping to bring science to the people? Nature 434 956 (2005)) Columnist in national magazines : La Recherche (60,000 copies/month), Le Monde Diplomatique (250,000 copies/month)

Main Collaborations
Bruno Latour's sociology team at Science's Po Paris MediaLab (1 publication in 2012)
Transportation economics lab (Lyon), 6 publications (2005-present), 3 PhDs joint supervisions
Economics lab (Ecully), 2 publications (2008-2011)
Computer science labs (Lyon) (6 publications, starting in 2008).

licence for Loco (now Lokéo), a software for advice on retail store location (2007). It is currently being commercialized in France by the society AID observatoire. International marketing research is now on progress, as this software can be used on any geolocalized data.

Funding ID :
DYNANETS (, EU FP7 FET Open project (total cost : 3.6 M€), June 2009 – May 2012. We have worked on the inclusion of population heterogeneity in epidemiological models (a paper is in preparation for Nature Physics)
Agence Nationale de la Recherche : Plainssud (total cost : 1.3 M€) and ANR Dyxi (total cost : 2.9 M€), on modelling urban transportation and location of crimes (both ended Dec 2011) Starting CNRS grant (8000 €), collaboration with B Latour (sociology, Paris) and G Beslon (Computer Science, Villeurbanne), 2010-2011
1. Main publications
1 - P. Jensen, Growth of nanostructures by cluster deposition : experiments and simple models, Rev. Mod. Phys. 71, 1695 (1999) 378 citations (ISI Web of Science highly cited paper)
My last papers as a condensed-matter physicist focused on ab-initio methods :
2 - P. Jensen, J. Gale and X. Blase, Catalysis of nanotube plasticity under tensile strain, Phys Rev B 66 193403 (2002) 26 citations
3 - P. Jensen, P. Ordejon and X. Blase, First principles study of gold adsorption and diffusion on graphite, Surf. Sci. 564 178 (2004) 32 citations
In the beginning of the 2000’s, I started to model social systems, mainly in economics and popularization activities. I published several papers dealing with popularization statistics (ref 4), thanks to the study of an exhaustive database for more than 7000 scientists from all the disciplines. Combining this database with scientometrics records, I showed for the first time that, contrary to what is often believed, scientists active in popularization are also very active academically. Eventually, this lead to a collaboration with sociologists and an invitation as a guest editor for a special issue in the major journal in the field, Public Understanding of Science.
4 - P Jensen, Who's helping to bring science to the people? Nature 434 956 (2005) 3 citations
Modelling of economics' phenomena was the second step. Thanks to a collaboration with transportation scientists, I won the prize of the best article (among 700 papers) at the 10th World Conference on Transport Research (ref 5) for an innovative way of optimizing a bunch of transportation projects with budget constraints.
5 - A Bonnafous and P Jensen, Ranking transport projects by their socioeconomic value or financial internal rate of return Transport Policy 12 131 (2005) 5 citations
Then I turned to the modeling of retail store locations (refs 6 and 7). I collaborated with mathematicians, geographers, economists and the Commerce Chamber in Lyon, leading to a software (Lokéo), winner of the French research minister prize for the best innovation in 2011, and commercialized by the society AID Observatoire.
6 - P Jensen, Network-based predictions of retail store commercial categories and optimal locations Phys Rev E 74 R035101 (2006) 7 citations
7 - P Jensen and J Michel, Measuring spatial dispersion: exact results on the variance of random spatial distributions The Annals of Regional Science 47 81 (2011)
More recently, my work started exploring the connections between physics, economics and sociology, leading to publications in major interdisciplinary (PNAS, ref 8), economics (J Pub Eco, ref 9) and sociology journals (British J Sociology, ref 10). In papers 8 and 9, we analyze the fundamental modeling differences of physics and economics, showing that a « respectful » interdisciplinarity is able to help both disciplines. Economics because the tools of statistical physics allowed us to derive, for the first time, an analytical solution to the celebrated Schelling segregation model. Our work has also benefited physics, because we have extended the free energy state function to take into account individualistic dynamics instead of the collective dynamics (based on total free energy) usually dealt with by this discipline.
8 - S Grauwin, E Bertin, R Lemoy and P Jensen, Competition between collective and individual dynamics PNAS 106 20622 (2009) 5 citations
9 - S Grauwin, F Goffette−Nagot, P Jensen, Dynamic models of residential segregation: An analytical solution Journal of Public Economics 96 (2012) 124
Finally, my latest work deals with the consequences for modeling of taking seriously (as sociologists do) the intrinsic complexity of social agents. In this « fascinating, broad ranging, and potentially very important paper » as one referee puts it, we propose to use an old sociological theory proposed by Gabriel Tarde in the 19th century to analyze the avalanche of social data of the digital society. The paper is available on my web page.
10 - B Latour, P Jensen, T Venturini, S Grauwin and D Boullier, The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts’ : A Digital Test of Gabriel Tarde’s Monads, to be published in the British Journal of Sociology (2012)

2. Research monographs
- P Jensen : “ Science Cafés: Where citizens challenge experts ”, chapter for the Scientific cafés book in English and Danish (2004)
- P Jensen, “ Making electrons public ”, chapter in Making Things Public, ed. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, MIT Press (2005)
- P Jensen, “Models for crystal growth”, chapter for the Handbook of Materials Modeling (edited by Sid Yip, MIT, 2005)
Courriel: pablo.jensen at
Téléphone: +33 4 26 23 38 13