Alec Kirkley

Assistant Professor

University of Hong Kong (HKU) (Starting August 2022)

About Me

Starting in August 2022 I will be an Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), jointly appointed in the Institute of Data Science and Department of Urban Planning and Design. I am currently an Assistant Professor at 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 research students to work on the lines of research listed above. Please send me your CV via email if you are interested. I also encourage you to include in your email a paragraph or so stating your research interests/experience and how you feel these interests fit with the research areas outlined above, as this will better facilitate matching you to potential projects. I make sure to read all of these emails and I highly appreciate your interest, but do not take it personally if I forget to reply since I often won’t be able to process these emails immediately. In general I am always happy to discuss opportunities for supervision, but take note that openings for positions may be subject to university- and department-level admissions criteria as well as project funding. I will try my best to be clear about these sources of variability and how they apply to each interested candidate. PhD applicants may also be interested in checking out the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme, which provides an excellent stipend and support for PhD studies in Hong Kong.


  • 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