Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions, and cosmological implications. A past president of the multidisciplinary Santa Fe Institute, West now studies the behavior and development of cities. In his newest work, he proposes that one simple number, population, can predict a stunning array of details about any city, from crime rate to economic activity. It is all about the plumbing, he says, the infrastructure that powers growth or dysfunction. His next target for study: corporations.
Among recent honors, he was a co-receiver of the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America, the Weldon Memorial Prize (2005), Oxford University and the Glenn Award for Research on Aging and the APS Szilard Award (2013).
In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" and his work was selected as one of the breakthrough ideas of 2007 by the Harvard Business Review.