This July, two cohorts of early-career complexity scientists regroup at SFI for open collaboration and some open air.

The second Postdocs in Complexity Conference brings together many of the same participants who attended the first conference in January.

Fifteen of these postdoctoral fellows are based at SFI and 32 are James S. McDonnell Foundation (JSMF) fellows who hail from academic institutions all over the globe. The goal of these bi-annual conferences is to build community and seed collaborations amongst the rising stars of complex systems science, and to establish best practices for the emerging field.
 
Where the January conference focused primarily on leadership and career-building topics, the July conference hones in on research, giving the fellows more free time to collaborate and brainstorm ideas.
 
“This second meeting will be great for collaboration,” says ASU-SFI fellow Elizabeth Hobson. She and JSMF fellow Eleanor Brush are working together on an agent-based model of animal signals and learning. “Now that we all know each other from the first meeting, we can turn some of our shared interests into new projects.”
 
Jakob Runge (JSMF) and Joshua Garland (SFI), who met at the January conference, have been collaborating on developing new techniques aimed at extracting and analyzing the informa tion locked away in deep polar ice cores.
 
Hilary Skolnik, SFI’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program Manager, says that given this meeting’s focus on research, she expects many more collaborations to result from the July conference. As part of the second conference, the postdocs will share their research by giving lightning talks — 5 minutes, with 5 minutes for Q&A.
 
They’ll also take a field trip to Bandelier National Monument, northwest of Santa Fe.
 
The productive “research jam sessions” from the January conference are making a comeback in July. The hour-long sessions prompt
postdocs to collaborate on questions that transcend individual disciplines.
 
“It gives them a chance to work together to come up with some novel solutions to problems they may be facing,” Skolnik says.
 
Also on the agenda are Carnegie Mellon’s Carol Frieze and Geoff Kaufman. Their program, BiasBusters@CMU, focuses on diversity and implicit bias.
 
“It is an issue that is facing academic selection more than ever, and one that doesn’t seem to be addressed often enough,” Skolnik says. “We believe that it is important to raise awareness for everyone but especially for our participants, many of whom will be leaders in their  fields and will be hiring and managing research and administrative staff in the future.”
 

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