Dr. John McLevey (he/him)

👋 Hi! My name is John (he/him). I’m an Associate Professor in Knowledge Integration (an interdiciplinary Arts & Sciences plus program) and Sociology & Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo.

I’m in the middle of switching my academic site from Hugo to Quarto. Some new(ish) content – such as pre-prints of recent publications and a technical blog focused on reproducibility, scientific computing, and generative modelling – is “coming soon.”


My current research addresses three broad and longstanding themes that cut across the social, cognitive, and computational/statistical sciences. First, I am developing generative models of schematic cognition, social influence, and cultural learning to deepen our knowledge of how latent opinions, identities, beliefs, and behaviors form and co-evolve, and to better measure polarization and large-scale cultural change. In developing these models, I am primarily focused on culture related to (a) climate change and environmental policy; (a) harm reduction initiatives and public health responses to the toxic drug supply and overdose crisis; (c) generative artificial intelligence; (d) privacy, security, and surveillance; and (e) lifestyle preferences and politics.

Second, I am using these models as digital ’laboratories’ (of a sort) to better understand the workings and impacts of coordinated information operations such as disinformation campaigns and censorship on populations. Third, I am using data from social media platforms to better understand the role of emotional dynamics and identity-related processes in online political discussions. I approach each of these projects as a computational social scientist with expertise in network science and social network analysis, probabilistic and generative modelling, and computational text analysis.

My work is funded by research grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. To learn more, browse my CV (with links to preprints and open access publications) or check out my books.

Outside of work and spending time with friends and family, I generally spend my time playing basketball, hiking, strength training, traveling, and reading. When I am not traveling for work, I split my time between Waterloo (ON), Toronto (ON), and St. John’s (NL). However, nearly all of this is temporarily on hold as my partner and I adjust to life with newborn identical twins!


  • PhD, Sociology, McMaster University (2009-2013)
  • MA, Sociology, McMaster University (2008-2009)
  • BA(H) Sociology, Political Science, Memorial University (2004-2008)


Computational Social Science; Network Science; Generative Modelling; Natural Language Processing; Cognitive Science; Cultural Cognition, Emotion, and Opinion Dynamics; Sociology of Science and Technology; Environmental Sociology