Santa Fe Institute

Science Steering Committee

The Science Steering Committee reviews and makes recommendations to the President on all faculty appointments, workshops, ongoing research activities, and policy issues which affect how science is conducted at SFI. The SSC consists of a subset of the Resident Faculty, External Faculty and Science Board members.

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Raissa D'Souza

External Professor

Professor, University of California, Davis, Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering

Jennifer A. Dunne

Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Vice President for Science, Santa Fe Institute

Walter Fontana

SSC, External Professor

Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Systems Biology

John Geanakoplos

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board, External Professor, SSC Chair

James Tobin Professor of Economics, Yale University, Economics

Mimi Koehl

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board Co-Chair, SSC

Professor, University of California-Berkeley, Dept. of Integrative Biology

Mercedes Pascual

Science Board, External Professor

Rosemary Grant Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Dan Rockmore

External Professor

Professor, Dartmouth College, Mathematics and Computer Science

Jeremy (Jerry) A. Sabloff †

President, Santa Fe Institute

Daniel L. Stein *

Science Board Co-Chair, SSC Ex-officio

Professor of Physics and Mathematics, New York University, Physics and Mathematics

Charles Stevens

External Professor

Professor and Vincent J. Coates Chair in Molecular Neurobiology, The Salk Institute, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

Jessika Trancik

External Professor, Science Steering Committee

Atlantic Richfield Career Development Assistant Professor in Energy Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division

Geoffrey West

Science Board, Science Steering Committee

Distinguished Professor and Past President, Santa Fe Institute

Chris Wood †

Vice President, Administration and Director, Business Network

Henry T. Wright

Science Board, External Professor

Albert C. Spaulding Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Department of Anthropology and Museum of Anthropology

† Ex Officio Member

Raissa D'Souza

External Professor

Professor, University of California, Davis, Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering

Raissa D’Souza is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, as well as an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Her research focuses on mathematical models of self-organization, phase transitions, and the structure and function of networked systems. Her publications span the fields of statistical physics, theoretical computer science and applied math, and appear in journals such as Science, PNAS, Nature Physics, and Physical Review Letters. Raissa received a PhD in Statistical Physics from MIT in 1999, then was a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories, and later at Microsoft Research. She currently serves on the editorial board of several international mathematics and physics journals and is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems. When not pursuing research ideas, she can typically be found outside, either scaling rocks or sailing.

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Jennifer A. Dunne

Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Vice President for Science, Santa Fe Institute

Jennifer A. Dunne is the Chair of Faculty and Vice President for Science at the Santa Fe Institute, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. Jennifer received an A.B. from Harvard where she studied philosophy, an M.A. in biology from San Francisco State University, a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, and was awarded a NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biological Informatics. In 2004, she co-founded a small research institute, the Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab, which she continues to co-direct.

Jennifer’s research interests are in analysis, modeling, and theory related to the organization, dynamics, and function of ecosystems. Much of this work focuses on ecological networks, in particular food webs, which specify the complex feeding interactions among species in a given habitat. Food webs provide a way to track and quantify the flow of energy and resources in ecosystems and ...

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Walter Fontana

SSC, External Professor

Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Systems Biology

Trained as a chemist, mentored in theoretical molecular biology by Peter Schuster (Vienna), educated in evolutionary biology by Leo Buss (Yale), self-taught in computer science and charmed by the social sciences through John Padgett (Chicago), I have straddled many divides that are now coming together naturally. I have taken risks in pursuing a professional trajectory shaped by the desire for a broadly engaging cross-disciplinary environment more than by career safety. This led to my decision of resigning tenure at the University of Vienna (1994-1998) to join the Santa Fe Institute on a term-limited six year position (1998-2004).

I moved to Harvard Medical School in September 2004, attracted by a vision of systems biology that emphasized evolution and molecular physiology. A theoretician for 16 years, I was transformed by living for a while among molecular biologists and seeing the opportunities that quantitative thinking and technology bring to experimental biology. I started ...

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John Geanakoplos

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board, External Professor, SSC Chair

James Tobin Professor of Economics, Yale University, Economics

John Geanakoplos (b. 1955) received his B.A. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1975 (summa cum laude), his M.A. in Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Economics under Kenneth Arrow from Harvard University in 1980. He started as an Assistant Professor in Economics at Yale University in 1980, becoming an Associate Professor in 1983, Professor in 1986, and the James Tobin Professor of Economics in 1994. He is currently the Director of the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics. He was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society in 1990 and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999. He was awarded the Samuelson Prize in 1999 (for work on lifetime financial security), and was awarded the first Bodossaki Prize in economics in 1994. In 1990-1991 and again in 1999-2000 he directed the economics program at the Santa Fe Institute, where he remains an external professor ...

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Mimi Koehl

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board Co-Chair, SSC

Professor, University of California-Berkeley, Dept. of Integrative Biology

I study the physics of how organisms interact with their environments. My goal is to elucidate basic physical rules that can be applied to different kinds of organisms about how body structure affects mechanical function in nature. I combine techniques from fluid and solid mechanics with those from biology to do experiments in the field as well as in the laboratory. Using both organisms and physical models, I have studied a variety of problems: the fluid dynamics of how molecules are captured by olfactory antennae and how food particles are filtered from the water by aquatic animals, the mechanisms by which bottom-dwelling marine organisms withstand waves and currents, the evolution of aerodynamic performance in insects and gliding vertebrates, the dispersal of chemical cues and of larvae in turbulent aquatic habitats, and the mechanics of how shape changes are produced in soft-bodied animals and developing embryos. I investigate structure and function ...

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Mercedes Pascual

Science Board, External Professor

Rosemary Grant Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I received my Ph.D degree in 1995 from the Joint Program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship for studies at Princeton, and more recently, a Centennial Fellowship in Global and Complex Systems from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. I am currently affiliated with the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at UM and with the Santa Fe Institute as an external faculty.

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Dan Rockmore

External Professor

Professor, Dartmouth College, Mathematics and Computer Science

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Jeremy (Jerry) A. Sabloff

President, Santa Fe Institute

JEREMY ARAC SABLOFF (B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1969) is the President of the Santa Fe Institute (2009 - ). Before coming to the Santa Fe Institute, he taught at Harvard University, the University of Utah, the University of New Mexico (where he was Chair of the Department), the University of Pittsburgh (where he also was Chair), and the University of Pennsylvania (where he was the Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum from 1994-2004 [and Interim Director, 2006-2007] and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Anthropology).

He also was an Overseas Visiting Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge, England. 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 ...

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Daniel L. Stein

Science Board Co-Chair, SSC Ex-officio

Professor of Physics and Mathematics, New York University, Physics and Mathematics


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Charles Stevens

External Professor

Professor and Vincent J. Coates Chair in Molecular Neurobiology, The Salk Institute, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

I received my BA in Psychology from Harvard, my MD from Yale, and my PhD in Biophysics from Rockefeller University where I studied mathematics and physics and did experimental research in vision. My long-term goal is to understand the mathematical operations carried out by neural circuits, and my immediate goal is to understand the design principles that underlie the scalable architecture of neural circuits. The immediate goal relates to the long-term goal through the fact that circuit scalability together with the properties of neurons places constraints on the types of operations that the circuit can carry out. The current research program uses quantitative neuroanatomical and physiological data from brain regions in fish to study scalability. Fish are used because they continue to grow throughout their live, to add new neurons to their brain and retina, and to increase the size and capability of their neural circuits. Design principles identified in ...

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Jessika Trancik

External Professor, Science Steering Committee

Atlantic Richfield Career Development Assistant Professor in Energy Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division

My research focuses on the evolution of technologies and on decomposing performance trajectories of energy systems. I am particularly interested in understanding the dynamics and limits of costs and carbon intensities of energy technologies, in order to inform climate change mitigation efforts. A subset of projects centers on nanostructured energy technologies and their potential to reach very low costs and carbon intensities. I received my B.S. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University and my Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Oxford, where I studied as a Rhodes Scholar. I have also worked for the United Nations, and as an advisor to the private sector on investment in low-carbon energy technologies.

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Geoffrey West

Science Board, Science Steering Committee

Distinguished Professor and Past President, Santa Fe Institute

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. West served as SFI President from July 2005 through July 2009. Prior to joining the Santa Fe Institute as a Distinguished Professor in 2003, he was the leader, and founder, of the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he is one of only approximately ten Senior Fellows.

His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena evolved into a highly productive collaboration on the origin of universal scaling laws that pervade biology from the molecular genomic scale up through mitochondria and cells to whole organisms and ecosystems. This led to the development of realistic quantitative models for the structural and functional design of organisms based on underlying universal principles. This work, begun at the Institute, has received much attention in both ...

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Chris Wood

Vice President, Administration and Director, Business Network

Chris received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1973. Following a postdoctoral appointment at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC, he returned to Yale as a faculty member with joint appointments in the Departments of Psychology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery. Chris left Yale in 1989 to lead the Biophysics Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a position he held until becoming the Santa Fe Institute's Vice President in 2005. At Los Alamos, Chris' group was responsible for a wide range of biophysical and physical research, including protein crystallography, quantum information, and human brain imaging. During 2000-2001, Chris served as interim director of the National Foundation for Functional Brain Imaging, a collaboration involving Harvard / Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Minnesota, and a number of academic and research institutions in New Mexico devoted to the development and application of advanced functional imaging techniques to mental disorders. Chris' research ...

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Henry T. Wright

Science Board, External Professor

Albert C. Spaulding Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Department of Anthropology and Museum of Anthropology

My earliest archaeological research was on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and in the Potomac River valley, recording the remains of prehistoric camp and village sites, as well colonial farms and town sites, and learning to view the past in regional and ecological perspectives. In 1960 I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as an undergraduate, and was introduced to the anthropological perspectives on the total human achievement. I became fascinated with competing explanations of the evolution of the complex social formations that dominate our planet today. At the University of Chicago, I became interested in the ancient Near East, the planet's earliest civilization, centered in southwest Asia. I did dissertation research in southern Iraq on urban societies of ca. 3000 B.C., completing a doctorate in Anthropology in 1967. I returned to Ann Arbor to join the staff at the Museum of Anthropology as ...

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