Jukka-Pekka Onnela

Jukka-Pekka Onnela

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics

Department of Biostatistics

Department of Biostatistics

Building 2, Room 423
655 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Onnela lab page



I will be teaching Introduction to Social and Biological Networks (BIO-521) in Fall 2 of 2015. Hope to see you there!


Methodology: I am interested in a broad range of theoretical and applied problems in network science. My current research focuses on statistical and mathematical analysis and modeling of social and biological networks and their connection to human health; development of metrics and methods for network analysis; and development of methods for analyzing online social systems and social media. My group focuses on network methods that combine ideas from two different approaches to the study of networked systems, the physics based approach (network science) and the statistics based approach (network analysis). I also contribute to the development of network methods as a member of the HIV Prevention Methods Working Group.

Applications: The starting point to the application of my research to public health is the simple but powerful premise that we do not exist as atomized units. Instead, people are connected, and therefore our health is connected. I’m involved in a number of applied projects that involve network theory and network science. For example, we analyze the structure of informal patient-sharing networks of physicians to better understand healthcare outcomes and healthcare costs; we identify central individuals in large-scale online and offline friendship networks for an early detection of flu epidemics; we uncover the hierarchical structure of family relationships in a developing country setting to better understand the role of social influence in driving vaccine refusals; we develop more effective behavioral interventions to slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS; we generate better educational intervention strategies to promote healthy eating habits and physical activity; and we use mobile phone data to examine communication and mobility patterns of individuals, which at a small scale can be used to study the progress of individuals suffering from mood disorders, and at a large scale these data can inform us about the extent and impact of natural disasters and other public health emergencies.


Prior to joining Biostatistics, I spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. I was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School from 2008 to 2009, and before that held a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford University for two years. I obtained my doctorate at the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) in 2006, where my dissertation received the Dissertation of the Year Award from the university.

Additional Information

My personal homepage contains my publications, some teaching material, slides for a few recent talks, and some other stuff. I also have a faculty profile and Google Scholar profile.