Stefany Moreno-Gamez

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

I am a senior at Universidad de los Andes and Universidad Sergio Arboleda double majoring Biology & Math. I became really interested about life since I was a kid. I just wonder how all different forms of life evolve following some basic principles and how it is possible that the same machinery could generate organisms as different (at least in a macroscopic scale) as a bacteria and a butterfly. On the other hand I have always thought that math is a very important tool for approach to the world, try to understand how everything works as well as describing it. So I have tried to combine these two disciplines as much as I can, in order to look for ways to seeing biological problems in new ways. My research interests include evolutionary biology, population genetics, theoretical ecology, game theory and animal behavior. However I am open to do any kind of research related with complexity like you will see in the projects I am working on now.


I have worked on relations between group theory and protein synthesis. The basic idea is to associate the elements of a mathematic structure of 64 elements (Z64 or Integers mod 64) with the set of codons of RNA. This association allows seeing mutations not as a change of a codon to another but as changes of numbers in the mathematical structure. In this sense it is possible to study the mathematical properties of mutations and trying to see if these properties relate to biological characteristics of mutations.

I am also working in a group of evolutionary game theory at my home university. We are studying the armed conflict in Colombia looking for a model to describe how agents and principals interact within an armed organization. Hopefully this would let us answer questions like why some armed groups stay longer than others, what are the optimal strategies to recruit people and how to control cheating within an armed organization.

I am also studying human behavior and game theory in a projectwith the SFI professor Juan Camilo Cárdenas. We simulate games like the ultimatum game, the third party punishment game and the trust game in order to find principles or rules in the simulation that could generate a pattern of cooperation during time similar to the one we see in the experimental data.

Last year I came to SFI like an REU and I begun a project with professors Sam Bowles and Jon Wilkins on human evolution. We try to reconstruct and describe the dynamics of prehistoric populations of humans in the Pleistocene using the information about population structure that we have from hunter gatherer populations which resemble our ancestors. I will be working on this project during the summer. The abstract is below.

Project Abstract

The traditional view about our ancestors is that they lived in closed worlds where the interactions were limited to just a small number of relatives or lifelong close associates. However, given extent of genetic differentiation (using the Wright’s F) in populations which are likely to have had population structures and characteristics similar to our ancestors, this idea seems to be incorrect. Under idealized assumptions in which only random migration and small group size are at work, the observed F’s values could be produced by small and isolated populations. However, this idealized situation is unlikely in the Pleistocene: there are five deviations of this idealized model: reproductive skew, population crashes, colonization processes, linage-based group fission and non-random migration. In accordance with those deviations, the F’s observed values could not be produced by small isolated populations but by large and/or cosmopolitan ones.

The purpose of my work is to simulate a prehistoric population under the influence of each one of these deviations and of all of them in combination to show that our ancestors may have lived in large cosmopolitan groups and to estimate the effect on the F’s values of all the deviations working together and in various combinations.

About me

I was born in Bogota (Colombia) which is a very nice place with a cool weather and warm people. I play guitar and bandola (it seems like a small guitar) and I really enjoy watching sports specially soccer and tennis (I am a fan of messi, fc Barcelona and nadal). I like to travel, met people and know different cultures. I am open to new ideas and different ways of understanding the world.