Faculty Directory
Daniel Abrams

Professor of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics and (by courtesy) Physics and Astronomy

Co-Director, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Daniel Abrams


Research Projects

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Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics


Department of Physics and Astronomy

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NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Mathematical Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA

PhD Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

BS (Hons) Applied Physics, Caltech, Padadena, CA

Research Interests

Nonlinear dynamics; physics of social systems; mathematical geoscience; pattern formation; coupled oscillators; synchronization; chimera states

Significant Recognition

  • James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar, 2010-2015
  • "Most Likely to Blow Your Mind" award from NPR’s The Academic Minute 2012
  • Northwestern University Searle Teaching Fellow, 2011–2012
  • Fulbright Foundation Scholar, 2010
  • NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow (MIT), 2006-2009
  • NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellow, 2006
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow, 2003-2006
  • US ED Foreign Language Area Study Grantee, 2003
  • Eagle Scout, 1996

Significant Professional Service

  • Co-organized conference “Network Frontier Workshop” (2013)
  • Chaired sessions at SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems conference (2013, planned 2015)
  • Helped develop and co-teach pilot course “Data as Art / Data Viz Collaborative” in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago (2013)
  • Referee for a wide range of journals (e.g., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Communications, Physical Review Letters, Chaos, Nonlinearity, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, Journal of Theoretical Biology)
  • Reviewed proposals for U.S. National Science Foundation, Research Corporation for Science Advancement (funding agency), Israel Science Foundation, Singapore National Research Foundation (2010-2014)
  • Compiled shared data sets on language competition (2003), evolution of religious affiliation (2010-2011), handedness in athletics (2011), smoking dynamics (2014)
  • Taught course for both faculty and students at San Antonio Abad University (UNSAAC) in Cusco, Peru. Translated all course materials into Spanish (2010)
  • Developing new applied math concept inventory (2013-Present)
  • Lectured on math, science, computer skills, and the US educational system at civil society events in Bolivia, Peru, and Nicaragua (2003-2010)
  • Lectured for Schuler Program in outreach to underserved Chicago area high school students (2013)
  • Communicated research through varied media interviews: see “Press” section of CV

Selected Publications

1)     J.D. Johnson, A.M. Redlich, and D.M. Abrams, “A Mathematical Model for the Origin of Name Brands and Generics,” SIAM Review (2022). [doi:tbd]. [journal article, accepted]

2)     J.D. Johnson, N.L. White, A. Kangabire, D.M. Abrams, “A dynamical model for the origin of anisogamy,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 521, 110669 (2021). [doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2021.110669]. [journal article, published]

3)     M.J. Panaggio, D.M. Abrams, F. Yang, T. Banerjee, and N. Shah, "Can subjective pain can be inferred from objective physiological data? Evidence from patients with sickle cell disease," PLOS Computational Biology 17 (3), e1008542 (2021). [doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008542]. [journal article, published]

4)     S. Padhee, A. Alambo, T. Banerjee, A. Subramaniam, D.M. Abrams, G.K. Nave Jr., and N. Shah, “Pain Intensity Assessment in Sickle Cell Disease Patients Using Vital Signs During Hospital Visits,” Pattern Recognition, ICPR International Workshops and Challenges (ICPR 2021), in Lecture Notes in Computer Science 12662 (2021). [doi:10.1007/978-3-030-68790-8_7]. [proceedings, published]

5)     D. Sabin-Miller and D.M. Abrams, "When pull turns to shove: A mathematical model for opinion dynamics," Physical Review Research 2, 043001 (2020). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevResearch.2.043001]. [journal article, published]

6)     V.C. Yang, D.M. Abrams, G. Kernell, and A.E. Motter, "Why are US parties so polarized? A 'satisficing' dynamical model," SIAM Review 62(3), 646-657 (2020). [doi:10.1137/19M1254246]. [journal article, published]

7)     A. Alambo A, R. Andrew, S. Gollarahalli, J. Vaughn, T. Banerjee, K. Thirunarayan, D. Abrams, and N. Shah, "Measuring pain in sickle cell disease using clinical text," 42nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 5838-5841 (2020). [doi:10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9175599]. [proceedings, published]

8)     F. Yang, T. Banerjee, M.J. Panaggio, D.M. Abrams, and N.R. Shah, "Continuous pain assessment using ensemble feature selection from wearable sensor data," 2019 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), San Diego, CA, USA, 569-576 (2019). [doi:10.1109/BIBM47256.2019.8983282]. [proceedings, published]

9)     V.C. Yang, A.V. Papachristos, and D.M. Abrams, "Modeling the origin of urban-output scaling laws," Physical Review E 100, 032306 (2019). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.100.032306]. [journal article, published]

10)  J.D. Johnson and D.M. Abrams, "A coupled oscillator model for the origin of bimodality and multimodality," Chaos 29, 073120 (2019). [doi:10.1063/1.5100289­]. [journal article, published]

11)  A. Johnson, F. Yang, S. Gollarahalli, T. Banerjee, D. Abrams, J. Jonassaint, C. Jonassaint, and N. Shah, "Use of mobile health apps and wearable technology to assess changes and predict pain during treatment of acute pain in sickle cell disease: Feasibility study," JMIR mHealth and uHealth 7 (12), e13671 (2019). [doi:10.2196/13671­]. [journal article, published]

12)  C.R. Jonassaint, C. Kang, D.M. Abrams, J.J. Li, J. Mao, Y. Jia, Q. Long, M. Sanger, J.C. Jonassaint, L. De Castro, and N. Shah, "Understanding patterns and correlates of daily pain using the Sickle cell disease Mobile Application to Record Symptoms via Technology (SMART)," British Journal of Haematology 183 (2), 306–308 (2018). [doi:10.1111/bjh.14956]. [journal article, published]

13)  S.M. Clifton, E. Herbers, J. Chen, and D.M. Abrams, "The tipping point: A mathematical model for the profit-driven abandonment of restaurant tipping," Chaos 28, 023109 (2018). [doi:10.1063/1.5004711]. [journal article, published]

14)  T. Kotwal, X. Jiang, and D.M. Abrams, "Connecting the Kuramoto model and the chimera state," Physical Review Letters 119 (26), 264101 (2017). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.264101]. [journal article, published]

15)  J.C. Lang, H. De Sterck, and D.M. Abrams, "The statistical mechanics of human weight change," PLOS ONE 12, 0189795 (2017). [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189795]. [journal article, published]

16)  S.M. Clifton, C. Kang, J.J. Li, Q. Long, N. Shah, and D.M. Abrams, "Hybrid statistical and mechanistic mathematical model guides mobile health intervention for chronic pain," Journal of Computational Biology 24 (7), 675-688 (2017). [doi:10.1089/cmb.2017.0059] [journal article, published]

17)  S.M. Clifton, R.I. Braun, and D.M. Abrams, "Handicap principle implies emergence of dimorphic ornaments," Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283, 1970 (2016). [doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.1970] [journal article, published]

18)  D.M. Abrams, L.M. Pecora, and A.E. Motter, "Introduction to focus issue: Patterns of network synchronization," Chaos 26 (9), 094601 (2016). [doi:10.1063/1.4962970] [journal introduction, published]

19)  X. Jiang and D.M. Abrams, "Symmetry-broken states on networks of coupled oscillators," Physical Review E 93, 052202 (2016). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.93.052202] [journal article, published]

20)  E.A. Martens, M.J. Panaggio, D.M. Abrams, "Basins of attraction for chimera states," New Journal of Physics 18, 022002 (2016). [doi:10.1088/1367-2630/18/2/022002] [journal article, published]

21)  M.J. Panaggio, D.M. Abrams, P. Ashwin, and C.R. Laing. "Chimera states in networks of phase oscillators: The case of two small populations," Physical Review E 93, 012218 (2016). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.93.012218] [journal article, published]

22)  J.C. Lang, D.M. Abrams, and H. De Sterck, "The influence of societal individualism on a century of tobacco use: modelling the prevalence of smoking," BMC Public Health 15:1280, 1-13 (2015). [doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2576-6] [journal article, published]

23)  M.J. Panaggio and D.M. Abrams. "Chimera states on the surface of a sphere," Physical Review E 91, 022909 (2015). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.91.022909] [journal article, published]

24)  M.J. Panaggio and D.M. Abrams. "Chimera states: Coexistence of coherence and incoherence in networks of coupled oscillators," Nonlinearity 28, R67-R87 (2015). [doi:10.1088/0951-7715/28/3/R67] [journal article, published]

25)  S.H. Lee, R. Ffrancon, D.M. Abrams, B.J. Kim and M.A. Porter, "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match: Migration of populations via marriages in the past," Physical Review X 4, 041009 (2014). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevX.4.041009] [journal article, published]

26)  D.M. Abrams, A. Slawik, and K. Srinivasan, "Nonlinear oscillations and bifurcations in silicon photonic microresonators," Physical Review Letters 112, 123901 (2014). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.123901] [journal article, published]

27)  M.J. Panaggio, B. Ottino-Loffler, P. Hu, and D.M. Abrams, "Symmetry breaking in optimal timing of traffic signals on an idealized two-way street," Physical Review E 88, 032801 (2013). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.88.032801] [journal article, published]

28)  F.A. McRobie, G. Morgenthal, D.M. Abrams, and J. Prendergast, "Parallels between wind and crowd loading of bridges," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 371, 20120430: 1-17 (2013). [doi:10.1098/rsta.2012.0430] [journal article, published]

29)  M.J. Panaggio and D.M. Abrams, "Chimera states on a flat torus," Physical Review Letters 110, 094102 (2013). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.094102] [journal article, published]

30)  D.M. Abrams and M.J. Panaggio, "A model balancing cooperation and competition can explain our right-handed world and the dominance of left-handed athletes," Journal of the Royal Society Interface 09 (75), 2718-2722 (2012). [doi:10.1098/rsif.2012.0211] [journal article, published]

31)  D.M. Abrams, H.A. Yaple, and R.J. Wiener, "Dynamics of social group competition: Modeling the decline of religious affiliation," Physical Review Letters 107, 088701 (2011). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.088701] [journal article, published]

32)  A.P. Petroff, O. Devauchelle, D.M. Abrams, A.E. Lobkovsky, A. Kudrolli, and D.H. Rothman, "Geometry of valley growth," Journal of Fluid Mechanics 673, 245–254 (2011). [doi:10.1017/S002211201100053X] [journal article, published]

33)  D.M. Abrams and R.J. Wiener, "A model of peak production in oilfields," American Journal of Physics 78 (1), 24–27 (2010). [doi:10.1119/1.3247984] [journal article, published]

34)  D.M. Abrams, A.E. Lobkovsky, A.P. Petroff, K.M. Straub, B. McElroy, D.C. Mohrig, A. Kudrolli, and D.H. Rothman, "Growth laws for channel networks incised by groundwater flow," Nature Geoscience 2, 193–196 (2009). [doi:10.1038/ngeo432] [journal article, published]

35)  D.M. Abrams, R.E. Mirollo, S.H. Strogatz, and D.A. Wiley, "Solvable model for chimera states of coupled oscillators," Physical Review Letters 101, 084103 (2008). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.084103] [journal article, published]

36)  B. Eckhardt, E. Ott, S.H. Strogatz, D.M. Abrams, and F.A. McRobie, "Modeling walker synchronization on the Millennium Bridge," Physical Review E 75, 021110 (2007). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.75.021110] [journal article, published]

37)  R.H. Wiener and D.M. Abrams, "A physical basis for Hubbert's decline from the midpoint empirical model of oil production," WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment 105, 377 (2007). [doi:10.2495/ESUS070371] [journal article, published]

38)  D.M. Abrams, "Two coupled oscillator models: The Millennium Bridge and the chimera state," Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University (2006). [https://bpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/sites.northwestern.edu/dist/e/7179/files/2023/02/Abrams-Daniel-Michael-PhD-Dissertation-Cornell-University-2006.pdf] [dissertation, accepted]

39)  D.M. Abrams and S.H. Strogatz, "Chimera states in a ring of nonlocally coupled oscillators," International Journal of Bifurcations and Chaos 16, 21 (2006). [doi:10.1142/S0218127406014551] [journal article, published]

40)  S.H. Strogatz, D.M. Abrams, F.A. McRobie, B. Eckhardt, and E. Ott, "Crowd synchrony on the Millennium Bridge," Nature 438, 43 (2005). [doi:10.1038/438043a] [journal article, published]

41)  D.M. Abrams and S.H. Strogatz, "Chimera states for coupled oscillators," Physical Review Letters 93, 174102 (2004). [doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.174102] [journal article, published]

42)  D.M. Abrams and S.H. Strogatz, "Modelling the dynamics of language death," Nature 424, 900 (2003). [doi:10.1038/424900a] [journal article, published]