Alec Kirkley

Assistant Professor

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) School of Data Science

About Me

I am an Assistant Professor in the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) School of Data Science. I obtained my PhD at the University of Michigan, working with Mark Newman on complex networks and statistical physics, and did my undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester, beginning my studies in complex systems with Gourab Ghoshal.

I am interested in the theory of complex networks and statistical physics, as well as their applications in urban and social systems. My main areas of focus are:

  1. Theory of complex networks
    • characterization of structure in networks with metadata
    • analysis and algorithms for statistical inference with network data
  2. Statistical physics of urban systems
    • structure and dynamics of human mobility
    • spatial socioeconomic inequality
My research involves a balance of mathematical theory, computer simulation, and analysis of empirical data. For more info, check out my Publications page.

I am looking for highly motivated PhD students (from any disciplinary background!). Please send me your CV and transcripts if you are interested. I encourage students that are exceptionally strong and/or from overseas to apply for the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS), which provides an excellent stipend and support for PhD studies in Hong Kong.

I am always happy to discuss opportunities for PhD supervision, but openings to work with me may be subject to quota availability, admissions criteria, and project funding (I will try my best to be clear about these sources of variability and how they apply to each student). Due to the high volume of emails, I apologize if I am not able to reply to each of them, but I do make sure to read every applicant’s email.


  • Network Science
  • Complex Systems
  • Urban Science
  • Statistical Physics


  • PhD in Physics, 2021

    University of Michigan

  • MS in Physics, 2018

    University of Michigan

  • BS in Physics, BA in Mathematics (summa cum laude), 2017

    University of Rochester