Nadja Kunz

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Complex Systems Summer School 2011

Who am I? I'm a PhD scholar at the University of Queensland, Australia. My thesis seeks to understand behaviour (principally performance and resilience) in coupled human-engineered systems. I contend that a lack of understanding about the interactions between these systems is a major barrier to sustainability implementation in the industrial sector. My research context is water management within the minerals industry. I'm adopting a systems modelling approach to study engineered systems, combined with social network analysis to look at human systems. Building on Ashby’s law of requisite variety, I hypothesise that performance of the coupled system will be best when human and engineered systems are aligned according to their complexity. I will test this hypothesis through gathering empirical data from case study sites.

I’m supervised cross-faculty by Prof Chris Moran at the Sustainable Minerals Institute and Dr Tim Kastelle at the UQ Business School. My own background is in Chemical Engineering/Business Management.

What expertise can I bring to the group? It looks like I'm the only Australian in the group, so I shall bring with me different experiences and perspectives. In particular, I’ve had a lot of practical experience working at a number of industrial sites (during and post my undergrad degree) including a copper mine, alumina refinery, paper mill, oil refinery, and an ammonia/urea plant. I have a solid understanding of sustainability and the practical challenges associated with its implementation in the industrial sector. I look forward to some engaging in some insightful discussions with others who have interests in this field.

Through my PhD I'm developing a good understanding of the various statistical models available to analyse social network data. The programs I've been using so far are UCINET and Netdraw, and I intend to use PNet down the track to investigate the factors driving network evolution.

What do I hope to get out of CSSS? I'm excited about all of the modules! I’m particularly eager to learn about structure and dynamics across multi-scale networks and to advance my understanding of network emergence, resilience and robustness. I also look forward to exploring approaches to conceptualize (and hopefully measure!) complexity in an empirical context, and to learn about novel approaches for validating models of complex systems.

Possible projects I'll have a think about this... But it could be interesting to do a project investigating sustainability challenges across different political and/or industrial regions, drawing on the diversity of scholars' experiences. Perhaps an investigation into the challenges of meeting multi-objectives across diverse industrial, governance and societal systems?

Interests? If you’ve explored the SFI Facebook page, you’ll probably have noticed that I enjoy sports – soccer, rock climbing, cycling, tennis, netball, yoga, surfing, running, etc. I love being outdoors, getting out to the beach, bushwalking, hiking. Also love travelling. I’m excited to share so many common interests with other scholars and look forward to exploring the beautiful Santa Fe region with the group over summer.

In other interests, I’ve been involved in a few volunteer groups over the years – including Engineers Without Borders and some local environmental groups in my hometown of Brisbane. A few years ago I volunteered at an indigenous school in Central Australia which was life-changing.

Website? Updated link with profile pic -