Noshir Contractor is the Jane S. and William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Engineering, School of Communication, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is the director of the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) research group at Northwestern.
He is investigating factors that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of dynamically linked social and knowledge networks in communities. Specifically, his research team is developing and testing theories and methods of network science to map, understand, and enable more effective networks in a wide variety of contexts including communities of practice in business, science, and engineering communities, disaster response teams, public health networks, digital media and learning networks, and in virtual worlds such as Second Life. His research program has been funded continuously for over a decade by major grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation with additional funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. Professor Contractor has published or presented over 250 research papers dealing with communicating and organizing. His book titled Theories of Communication Networks (co-authored with Professor Peter Monge and published by Oxford University Press in English) received the 2003 Book of the Year award from the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association. He is the lead developer of IKNOW (Inquiring Knowledge Networks on the Web), and its Cyberinfrastructure extension CI-KNOW, a network recommender system to enable communities using cyberinfrastructure, as well as Blanche, a software environment to simulate the dynamics of social networks. Professor Contractor has also worked widely with industry.