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The Principles of Complexity: Life, Scale, and Civilization - Speaker Bios Aug 8

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Luis Bettencourt, Santa Fe Institute
Luís M. A. Bettencourt is a Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and a former Senior Research Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He obtained his PhD from Imperial College, University of London, in 1996 for work on critical phenomena in the early Universe, and associated mathematical techniques of Statistical Physics, Field Theory and Non-linear Dynamics. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, as a Director’s Fellow in the Theoretical Division at LANL, and at the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT. In 2000 he was awarded the distinguished Slansky Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory for excellence in interdisciplinary research. Luís carries research in the structure and dynamics of complex systems, with an emphasis on dynamical problems in biology and society. Currently he works on real time epidemiological estimation, information processing in complex systems, innovation in science and technology and urban organization and dynamics. He is a member of advisory committees for international conferences and referees for journals in physics, mathematics, computer science, computational biology, urban studies and for international fellowship programs. He is the Principal Investigator of the Synthetic Cognition team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is pursuing new science and technology for image and video processing inspired by biological insights. He is also a consultant for the Office Science and Technology Information of the US Department of Energy on the subject of Scientific and Technological Innovation and Discovery.


Lily Blair, Stanford University and Santa Fe Institute
I received my bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics and am generally interested in mathematical analysis of different fields. Most of my work has been in biomedical fields. More specifically, I studied vascular patterning and development and am now working on virus diversification patterns within individuals with HIV and HCV. I plan to continue work in biology at Stanford University in the fall. I am also currently working with SFI archaeologists on a project to evaluate what leads to the emergence of primary states. I have been expanding and analyzing existing databases to determine how different factors correlate to a measure of the complexity of archaeological traditions.


James Brown, University of New Mexico and SFI External Professor
James Brown grew up in upstate New York, attended Cornell University, and received his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan. He has held faculty appointments at the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Utah, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico, and Santa Fe Institute. He is known for his research in desert ecocosystems, biogeography, ecological theory, and biological scaling. He is considered “the father of macroecology,” a large-scale, statistical, informatics-based discipline that offers powerful insights into contemporary problems of global change and human ecology. He has trained numerous undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs, many of whom now hold influential positions in academia, NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector. He has received several honors and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Odum Award for teaching and the MacArthur Award for research from the Ecological Society of America, the Merriam Award from the American Society of Mammalogists, the Marsh Award from the British Ecological Society, and the Grinnell Medal from the University of California at Berkeley.


Eleanor Brush, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Eleanor received her B.A. in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 2010. She is currently a graduate student in the Program for Quantitative and Computational Biology at Princeton University. She is interested in the emergence of social structures on ecological and evolutionary timescales, the dynamics and evolution of signaling behaviors, and information processing in biological systems.


Andrew Cabaniss, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Andrew Cabaniss is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill studying Classical Archaeology. His work focuses primarily on large-scale behaviors and trends in ancient societies, incorporating statistical methods and geologic data. He has conducted fieldwork in Spain and New Mexico, and worked on interpreting bioarchaeological data from the Imperial Cemeteries of Rome as well as settlement patterns in the Valley of Mexico.


Bryan Daniels, University of Wisconsin-Madison
My research focuses on applying ideas from statistical physics to problems involving biology and other complex systems. A few broad topics that I am eager to better understand include the ever-present tension between detailed but unwieldy models and simplified effective models; how information theory may elucidate the workings of cellular systems biology, neuroscience, and other complex systems; and the usefulness of intrinsic noise measurements in constraining models. I received my PhD in Physics at Cornell in 2010, spent the beginning of a postdoc at SFI, and moved to the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery in 2012.


Gary Feinman, The Field Museum
Gary Feinman, Curator of Mesoamerican Anthropology at Chicago’s Field Museum, co-directs two international archaeological field projects. His principal research area is Mesoamerica, where he currently leads house excavations at the Mitla Fortress. This is the third Classic period (AD 200-900) settlement where he has led residential excavations (following Ejutla and El Palmillo). At the most overarching level, this research investigates the Classic period economy in the Valley of Oaxaca, the functioning and eventual collapse of the early city centered at Monte Albán, and the reorganization of the region in the subsequent Postclassic period.

For the last 17 years, Feinman also has helped direct a systematic settlement pattern survey of a coastal basin in eastern Shandong, China. This study focuses on the rise of hierarchical polities in the region, the eventual incorporation of this area into empires centered to the west, and the documentation of settlement and demographic change in this basin over millennia.

Feinman’s field studies have underpinned comparative analyses of (and publications on) leadership, cooperation, inequality, preindustrial economics, and the complex relations between humans and their environments over time. He is an AAAS Fellow and was awarded the Presidential Recognition Award by the Society for American Archaeology.


Jessica Flack, University of Wisconsin-Madison and SFI External Professor
Jessica Flack is the Co-Director of the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. The goal of Flack’s research program is to provide an account of the emergence of multi-scale, hierarchical structure in biological and social systems. Results from her studies suggest that robust social aggregates emerge from interactions among self-interested components through a process of collective social computation, whereby components jointly construct social structure with slowly changing, persistent features to minimize uncertainty. This work has involved development of novel techniques for extracting strategic decision-making rules from time-series data and constructing the causal networks or social circuits that map microscopic dynamics to macroscopic states. Central themes of Flack’s projects include computation in nature, endogenous coarse-graining, collective cognition and behavior, multiple time-scales, conflict dynamics and control, robustness, and the role of information and communication in biology and social evolution. Flack approaches these issues using data on social process collected from animal society model systems, data collected from behavioral knockout experiments on social systems, and through comparison of social dynamics with neural, immune, and developmental dynamics. Flack, with two colleagues, is writing a book on robustness, causal networks, and experimental design that will be published by Princeton University Press.


Murray Gell-Mann, Santa Fe Institute
Murray Gell-Mann received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He is currently Distinguished Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute (which he helped to found) as well as the Robert Andrews Millikan Profes¬sor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he joined the faculty in 1955. Gell-Mann’s seminal contributions to physics include work on the renor¬malization group, the theory of the weak interaction, quantum field theory on the mass shell, and the theory of quarks and gluons, which are the fundamental building blocks of the strongly interacting particles. Recently Gell-Mann has worked on is¬sues of simplicity and complexity and on alternative forms of entropy. In addition he has worked with James Hartle on the interpretation of quantum mechanics in terms of decoherant histories. He has also spearheaded the program at SFI on the Evolu¬tion of Human Languages.


Marcus Hamilton, Santa Fe Institute
Marcus received his B.Sc. from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1998, his M.Sc. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in 2002 and his PhD in 2008. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Biology, University of New Mexico from 2008-2010, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at SFI working with Geoffrey West, Luis Bettencourt, Jose Lobo, and Hyejin Youn in the urban scaling group.

Marcus has a broad background in evolutionary anthropology, archaeology, and theoretical ecology. His research focuses on the evolution of human ecology over time and space. He works at multiple scales, from life history theory and behavioral ecology, to population dynamics and the biogeography of human diversity, and from hunter-gatherer societies to nation states. His research seeks to understand the general principles that have shaped the development of human ecology and social organization over our evolutionary history, both in terms of basic scientific questions, but also in more applied efforts to understand the potential future trajectories of human societies. As part of the urban scaling group Marcus’s research has focused on the dynamics of firms, markets, and economies, and he works closely with collaborators at Boeing.


Anne Kandler, Santa Fe Institute
Anne received her PhD in mathematics from Technical University Chemitz in 2006 and is currently an Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. Before joining SFI in 2011, she completed postdoctoral work at University College London. Her research focuses on the dynamics of cultural change, including ecological models of language shift, the effects of demographic and cultural factors on patterns of cultural diversity and the statistical linkage of mathematical models with often-sparse archaeological and anthropological data.


Eric Klopfer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eric Klopfer is Professor and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT. Klopfer's research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. His research explores simulations and games on desktop computers as well as mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Klopfer's work combines the construction of new software tools with implementation, research, and development of new pedagogical supports that transition the use of these tools to broader use in formal and informal learning. He is the co-author of the book, "Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo," and author of "Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games" from MIT Press. He has a new book from MIT Press coming out this year about the intersection of academia and private industry around technology-enabled classroom innovations. Klopfer is also the director of The Education Arcade, which is advancing the development and use of games in K-12 education, as well as co-founder and President of the non-profit Learning Games Network.


David Krakauer, University of Wisconsin and SFI External Professor
David C. Krakauer is Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Profes¬sor of Genetics, both at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and External Pro¬fessor at the Santa Fe Institute. He was previously chair of the faculty and a resi¬dent professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Dr. Krakauer has been a visiting fellow at the Genomics Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and a Sage Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of Santa Bar¬bara. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, as well as by the Packard Foundation, The McDonnell Foundation, the Kent School of Intelligence Analysis, the Templeton Foundation, Lockheed Martin and several family foundations and trusts. In 2012 Dr. Krakauer was included in the Wired Magazine Smart List as one of 50 people who will change the World.


Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith, Oxford University
Chris Llewellyn Smith is Director of Energy Research, Oxford University, and President of the Council of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East). He has chaired the Council of ITER, the global fusion energy project, directed the UK's fusion programme, and served as Provost and President of University College London, Director General of CERN (1994-1998, when the Large Hadron Collider was approved and construction started), and Chairman of Oxford Physics. His theoretical contributions to the ‘standard model’ of particle physics were recognised by his election to the Royal Society in 1984. He has written and spoken widely on science funding, international scientific collaboration and energy issues, and served on many advisory bodies nationally and internationally, including the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology (1989-92). His scientific contributions and leadership have been recognised by awards and honours in seven countries on three continents.


Melanie Mitchell, Portland State University and SFI External Professor
Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and External Professor and Member of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute. She attended Brown University, where she majored in mathematics and did research in astronomy, and the University of Michigan, where she received a Ph.D. in computer science. Her dissertation, in collaboration with her advisor Douglas Hofstadter, was the development of Copycat, a computer program that makes analogies. She has held faculty or professional positions at the University of Michigan, the Santa Fe Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the OGI School of Science and Engineer¬ing, and Portland State University. She is the author or editor of five books and over 70 scholarly papers in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and complex systems.


Scott Ortman, Santa Fe Institute and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Scott Ortman is an anthropologist who has several related interests. One is the analysis and modeling of coupled natural and human systems over long periods, especially in the U.S. Southwest. Another is historical anthropology, or the integration of historical linguistics, human biology, archaeology, and oral tradition to better-understand historical processes in non-literate societies. He is also interested in applications of concepts and methods from cognitive science for historical linguistics and archaeology. Finally, Scott is interested in the role of conceptual metaphors in the evolution of social complexity, especially the ways in which cultural concepts interact with emotion and rationality to encourage social coordination.

Scott is an Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and the Lightfoot Fellow at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Previously, he was a dissertation completion fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies, and the director of research at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center where, among other duties, he guided programs that involved the public and American Indians in archaeological research. Scott holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.


Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge
Colin Renfew is Professor Emeritus of Archaeology and founding Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in the University of Cambridge. He specialises in European prehistory, and has excavated widely in the Cycladic Islands of Greece. His 1972 study of the formation of early complex society in the Aegean,The Emergence of Civilisation: the Cyclades and the Aegean in the Third Millennium BC, was recently republished (2011, Oxford, Oxbow). He has worked on radiocarbon dating, the characterisation of obsidian, the origins of European metallurgy, the applications of molecular genetics to archaeology, and the prehistory of linguistic diversity. He has sought to develop the field of cognitive archaeology, and has studied the origins of ritual and religion in the Aegean. His excavations on Keros have revealed what may be the earliest maritime sanctuary in the world (c. 2500 BC). He is the author of Prehistory, the Making of the Human Mind (2007, London. Weidenfeld).


Ginger Richardson, Santa Fe Institute
Ginger Richardson is Vice President for Education and Institutional Outreach at the Santa Fe Institute. At SFI Richardson is responsible for development and implementation of educational programs ranging from middle school to postdoctoral levels including the Institute’s flagship Complex Systems Summer Schools in Santa Fe, Asia and Europe, high school and undergraduate student internships; and teacher and professional development programs. Prior to her association with SFI (since 1986), Richardson held a senior management position in educational outreach at the University of California at Berkeley. She holds degrees from St. John’s College and the University of California at Berkeley.


Jerry Sabloff, Santa Fe Institute
Jerry Sabloff is President of the Santa Fe Institute. Before coming to the Santa Fe Institute, he taught at Harvard University, the University of Utah, the University of New Mexico (Department Chair), the University of Pittsburgh (Department Chair), and the University of Pennsylvania (Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum 1994-2004 [and Interim Director, 2006-2007] and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Anthropology).

He is a past President of the Society for American Archaeology, a past Chair of Section H (Anthropology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and past Editor of American Antiquity. He served as Chair of the Smithsonian Science Commission and currently is a member of the Visiting Committee for the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Natural History, and the Board of Trustees of the SRI Foundation, as well as a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Kolb Foundation (of which he was President from 1994-2004 and 2006-2007). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (elected in 1994) and the American Philosophical Society (elected in 1996), and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected in 1999). He is the author of Excavations at Seibal; Ceramics (1975), The Cities of Ancient Mexico (1989; 2nd ed., 1997), The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya (1990), and Archaeology Matters (2008) and the co-author of A History of American Archaeology (1974; 2nd ed., 1980; 3rd ed., 1993), A Reconnaissance of Cancuen, Peten, Guatemala (1978), Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica (1979; 2nd ed. 1995), Cozumel: Late Maya Settlement Patterns (1984), and The Ancient Maya City of Sayil (1991).

His principal scholarly interests include: ancient Maya civilization, pre-industrial urbanism, settlement pattern studies, archaeological theory and method, the history of archaeology, and the relevance of archaeology in the modern world. Over the past forty years, he has undertaken archaeological field research in both Mexico and Guatemala.


Paula Sabloff, Santa Fe Institute
Paula Sabloff is a political anthropologist who has conducted extensive fieldwork in Mongolia and Mexico. She has published papers on Mongolians’ changing ideas on democracy and capitalism as they leave socialism behind. In that pursuit, she has conducted fieldwork and interviews in the summers of 1996-2003. She curated an exhibition, “Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan,” which spent five months at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) in 2002 among other venues. An edited volume by that name is still selling on Amazon. She recently organized a four-day symposium on Mongolia that resulted in a volume, Mapping Mongolia: From Geologic Time to the Present. It has been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press (2011). She contributed a chapter on the relationship between people conception of risk and democracy, which will be published shortly. She is currently working on an undergraduate ethnography on Mongolia. Its underlying theme is to ask whether or not democracy is a universal desire. She is also working with the SFI archaeologists on a project to determine the emergence of primary states from Neolithic villages.


Kurt Squire, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kurt Squire is a professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a leader of the Games + Learning + Society theme in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Squire's research focuses on systemic education change with digital media, with a particular emphasis on interactive, immersive simulation (or game) technology. Squire is the author of over 75 scholarly publications and recently published Video Games and Learning through Columbia Teacher's Press and edited, along with Constance Steinkuehler and Sasha Barab, Games + Learning + Society, published by Cambridge University. Squire is also co-founder and Vice President of the Learning Games Network. Squire is formerly a Montessori Teacher, a columnist (with Henry Jenkins) for Computer Games magazine, and co-founder of Joystick101.org, a leading games culture blog.


Rob Weiner, Brown University and Santa Fe Institute
Rob Weiner is an intern and incoming first-year student at Brown University, with a prospective double concentration in Archaeology and the Ancient World and Contemplative Studies. His research interests include the mixture of Hellenistic and Buddhist culture in Central Asia, the so-called “Sea Peoples” in the Mediterranean around 1200 BCE and the subsequent collapse of the Bronze Age, and ethnoarchaeology.


Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute
Geoffrey West is Distinguished Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute (2005 - 2009) and an Associate Fellow of the Säid Business School, Oxford University. Previously, he was leader of high-energy physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he is a Senior Fellow. He received his BA from Cambridge University (1961) and PhD in physics from Stanford University (1966). After spells at Cornell and Harvard Universities, he returned to Stanford in 1970 to join the faculty. West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics and biology, ranging from the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications to the origins of universal scaling laws and a unifying quantitative framework of biology. His research in biology has included metabolic rate, growth, aging & mortality, sleep, cancer, and ecosystem dynamics. Recent work focuses on developing an underlying quantitative theory for the structure and dynamics of cities, companies and long-term global sustainability including rates of growth and innovation, and the accelerating pace of life. He has given many colloquia and public lectures worldwide. Among recent awards are the Mercer Prize from the Ecological Society of America, the Weldon Prize for Mathematical Biology and the Glenn Award for Aging research. He has been featured in many publications including The New York Times, Nature, Science, The Financial Times, and Scientific American and participated in TV productions including Nova, the BBC and National Geographic. His research was selected as a breakthrough idea of 2007 by Harvard Business Review and, in 2006; he was selected for Time magazine's list of "100 Most Influential People in the World.”


Hyejin Youn, Santa Fe Institute
I am a statistical physicist by training. Therefore, I believe that there can be found an underlying law governing some aspects of phenomena of the systems that at first look very disparate and diverse, and yet, from which universal patterns emerged through proper scaling functions. Formerly I studied the emergence of Nash equilibrium from human dynamics in transportation network with a game theoretic perspective where a paradox of that less is better is observed. My current works focus on the quantitative assessment of urban scaling in general with several aspects: energy consumption in relation to carbon dioxide emission, the structural properties of human population density, and urban economic diversity in terms of establishments. As a PostDoc Fellow, I am working closely with SFI Distinguished Professor Geoffrey West and SFI Resident Professor Luis Bettencourt on the theory of scaling behaviors of cities.