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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Jennifer A. Dunne

Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Vice President for Science, Santa Fe Institute

Walter Fontana

External Professor, Science Steering Committee

Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Systems Biology

Barbara Grosz

Science Board

Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, Harvard University, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Mimi Koehl

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board Co-Chair, SSC

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

David Krakauer † *

President, Santa Fe Institute

John H. Miller

Chair, Science Steering Committee, External Professor Professor of Economics and Social Science; Car

Professor of Economics and Social Science; Head, Carnegie Mellon University, Social and Decision Sciences

Mercedes Pascual

Science Board, External Professor

Professor, University of Chicago, Department of Ecology and Evolution

Dan Rockmore

External Professor

Professor, Dartmouth College, Mathematics and Computer Science

Daniel Schrag

Science Board

Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology; Director, Center for the Environment, Harvard University, Center for the Environment

Charles Stanish

External Professor

Professor and Director, University of California, Los Angeles, Anthropology, Cotsen Institute of Archeology

Daniel L. Stein *

Science Board Co-Chair, SSC Ex-officio

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

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

† Ex Officio Member

Jennifer A. Dunne

Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Vice President for Science, Santa Fe Institute

Jennifer A. Dunne is the 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 an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biological Informatics. As Vice President for Science, Jennifer manages all science-related activities at SFI, including the resident and external faculty, postdoctoral programs, seminar series, scientific visitors, working groups and workshops, sponsored research, and communications.

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 ...

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Walter Fontana

External Professor, Science Steering Committee

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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Barbara Grosz

Science Board

Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, Harvard University, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Artificial Intelligence Collaborative Planning and Human-Computer Communication

One of the major challenges for computer science is to create the scientific and technological base for easy-to-use, large-scale information systems.  Research in Artificial Intelligence aims to understand thinking and intelligence in ways that enable the construction of computer systems able to act intelligently and to build such systems.  Within these two broad agendas, Professor Grosz’s research program aims to develop the capabilities needed for computer-agent systems to function as intelligent, helpful team members over the long term and in uncertain, dynamic environments.  It has yielded theories and models of collaboration that provide the foundations for constructing systems able to work with each other and their users. The ability to collaborate is critical if we are to have systems that are helpful assistants and not merely tools. Better systems for human-computer communication, including for managing interruptions appropriately, are an essential part of ...

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Mimi Koehl

Ex Officio Trustee, Science Board Co-Chair, SSC

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

Mimi Koehl , a Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, earned her Ph.D. in Zoology at Duke University.  She studies the physics of how organisms interact with their environments, focusing on how microscopic creatures swim and capture food in turbulent water flow, how organisms glide in turbulent wind, how wave-battered marine organisms avoid being washed away, and how olfactory antennae catch odors from water or air moving around them. 

Professor Koehl’s is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Her awards include a MacArthur “genius grant”, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Martin Award (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, for “for research that created a paradigm shift in an area of aquatic sciences”), the Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics, for “outstanding career accomplishment”), the Rachel Carson Award (American ...

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David Krakauer

President, Santa Fe Institute

David’s research focuses on the evolutionary history of information processing mechanisms in biology and culture. This includes genetic, neural, linguistic and cultural mechanisms. The research spans multiple levels of organization, seeking analogous patterns and principles in genetics, cell biology, microbiology and in organismal behavior and society. At the cellular level David has been interested in molecular processes, which rely on volatile, error-prone, asynchronous, mechanisms, which can be used as a basis for decision making and patterning. David also investigates how signaling interactions at higher levels, including microbial and organismal, are used to coordinate complex life cycles and social systems, and under what conditions we observe the emergence of proto-grammars. Much of this work is motivated by the search for 'noisy-design' principles in biology and culture emerging through evolutionary dynamics that span hierarchical structures.

Research projects includes work on the molecular logic of signaling pathways, the evolution of genome organization ...

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John H. Miller

Chair, Science Steering Committee, External Professor Professor of Economics and Social Science; Car

Professor of Economics and Social Science; Head, Carnegie Mellon University, Social and Decision Sciences

My research focuses on the complex adaptive behavior that emerges in social systems. The goal of this work is to understand the principles by which aggregate patterns emerge from the simple interactions of individual adaptive agents. The nonlinear and disequilibrium nature of complex adaptive systems often necessitates new methodological and theoretical directions. Methodologically, computational methods provide a convenient tool for modeling such systems. Theoretically, standard analytic tools, based on both linearity and equilibrium behavior, may be ill-tuned to further our understanding of complex systems. Thus, new approaches that emphasize nonlinearities and dynamics are needed.

To understand the behavior of complex adaptive systems, I have relied on the analysis of computational models composed of interacting artificial adaptive agents. The behavior of each agent in the system is dictated by a simple learning algorithm (e.g., genetic algorithm) that allows the agent to adaptively modify its actions from a set of behaviors ...

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Mercedes Pascual

Science Board, External Professor

Professor, University of Chicago, Department of Ecology and Evolution

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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Daniel Schrag

Science Board

Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology; Director, Center for the Environment, Harvard University, Center for the Environment

Daniel P. Schrag is the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology at Harvard University, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Schrag studies climate and climate change over the broadest range of Earth history. He is particularly interested in how information on climate change from the geologic past can lead to better understanding of anthropogenic climate change in the future. In addition to his work on geochemistry and climatology, Schrag studies energy technology and policy, including carbon capture and storage and low-carbon synthetic fuels.

Schrag currently serves on President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Among various honors, he is the recipient of the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union and a MacArthur Fellowship. Schrag earned a B.S. in geology and geophysics and political science from Yale University and his Ph.D. in geology from ...

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Charles Stanish

External Professor

Professor and Director, University of California, Los Angeles, Anthropology, Cotsen Institute of Archeology

Charles Stanish is Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. He has worked extensively in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, conducting archaeological research on the prehistoric societies of the region. His theoretical work focuses on the roles that trade, war, and labor organization play in the evolution of human cooperation and complex societies. His books include Lake Titicaca: Legend, Myth, and Science (2011), Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia (2003), Ritual and Pilgrimage in the Ancient Andes (with B. Bauer, 2001) and Ancient Andean Political Economy (1992). He also works with a sustainable development group to preserve global cultural heritage through a combination of micro-lending, direct community grants, and tourist infrastructure development. He was a Senior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of ...

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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