Aaron Brooks

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


Hello! I am a PhD student with Nitin Baliga at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, WA.

My lab centers around the microscopic movers and shakers of the planet. We model the interactions of microbes with their environment and also with each other to suggest ways in which we can modify their behavior to accomplish important socioeconomic tasks. Our models suggest dynamic regulatory relationships and influences between molecular parts within an organism and provide a means to compare regulatory architectures across species. We strongly emphasize the role of gene regulatory reorganization in adaptation.

As for my specific research interests, I am fascinated by biological information processing -- or at least how we can observe and predict the propagation of information within living systems.


My interests are more broad than they've become over the years of my PhD. In the past I dedicated my attention to interesting questions in philosophy, political science, and biology. Recently, however, I've become completely enamored of the richness of even so-called "simple" biological systems.

Within biology

Evolutionary dynamics, esp. laboratory evolution experiments

Systems/synthetic biology

Evolution of cooperativity

External to biology

Structure/function relationships in social and economic systems

The role of perception (and irrationality) in decision making

Cooperativity (and other social games)


Experimental molecular biology and biochemistry


Evolutionary dynamics (though this is a scary thing to suppose expertise in)

Gene regulatory networks

Systems/synthetic biology

Programming (hacking proficiency): MATLAB, R, Python

My hopes for CSSS

I'd really like to return to the fundamental, transdisciplinary questions that motivated me to pursue science in the first place. I'm excited to meet and exchange ideas with people whose enthusiasm disobeys traditional categorization.

I also still have a lot to learn, especially about computation and mathematics.


- Outdoors (hiking, climbing, mountaineering, biking)

- Food (I brew beer and roast coffee)

- Sunshine!

- Science outreach (e.g. Portal to the Public)

Open Ideas/Suggestions/Questions I have

- How to compare graphs?

- How to integrate phenomenon that occur across scales (time scale, level of organization)?

- Usefulness (or not) of interval mathematics to model social and biological systems?