Alex "Sandy" Pentland

Faculty Director

Alex “Sandy” Pentland is founding faculty director of the MIT Connection Science Research Initiative, which uses network science to access and change real-world human behavior.  He is a Stanford HAI Fellow, and has been awarded the MIT Toshiba Professorship, and appointments in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, as well as the Sloan School of Business.

Sandy has helped create and direct MIT’s Media Lab, the Media Lab Asia, and the Center for Future Health. His World Economic Forum project led to the EU GDPR privacy regulation, and the Data for Development experiments he hosted shaped the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. He is on the Board of the UN Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, and co-leads the IEEE Council on Extended Intelligence.  Previously he has been a member of the Advisory Boards for Google, Nissan, Telefonica, the United Nations Secretary General, Monument Capital, and the Minerva Schools.

In 2012 Forbes named Sandy one of the “seven most powerful data scientists in the world”, along with Google founders and the CTO of the United States, and in 2013 he won the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review. He is among the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and a pioneer in computational social science, organizational engineering, wearable computing (Google Glass), image understanding, and modern biometrics. His research has been featured in NatureScience, and Harvard Business Review, as well as being the focus of TV features on BBC World, Discover and Science channels. His most recent book is Social Physics, published by Penguin Press.

Over the years Sandy has advised more than 50 PhD students. Almost half are now tenured faculty at leading institutions, with another one-quarter leading industry research groups and a final quarter are founders of their own companies. Sandy's research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off more than 30 companies to date, three of which are publicly listed and several that serve millions of poor in Africa and South Asia. Recent spin-offs have been featured in publications such as The Economist and The New York Times, as well as winning a variety of prizes from international development organizations.

Sandy holds a B.G.S. from University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.