On Monday, June 9, some 60 early career scholars from around the world gathered on the campus of St. John’s College in Santa Fe to embark on a four-week journey through complexity.
First on the microphone was SFI External Professor Sander Bais, Director of SFI’s Complex Systems Summer School (CSSS), who welcomed the students and called attention to the diversity of the participants.
“Overall we have a nice coverage of the earth,” said Bais. “Twenty nationalities, and twenty scientific backgrounds, a rich diversity indeed. There is fertile ground here to communicate and learn from each other.”
The participants, most of them graduate students and postdocs, participate in four to ve lectures per day on topics ranging from entropy to evolution, from molecular biology to anthropology, all grounded in the fundamentals of physics, mathematics, and computer science, and most taught by SFI faculty. The program is accompanied by student group projects, presented to the SFI community during the final week of the school.
Bais, a professor with the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Theoretical Physics, has been director of CSSS for three years. He draws on his own rich background in physics, mathematics, and education to make the school relevant to a broad spectrum of bright minds.
“It’s very stimulating to have all these young people eager to learn all these new tech- niques and perspectives on the problems of modern times,” he says.
Anna Olson, a graduate student in computer science from the University of Chicago and a 2008 SFI REU alumna, says the rst day of the summer school was intense due to the volume of information, but she was happy to be a part of it.
“Lots of lectures, a lot of people, just a lot of information to take in, but it’s all very exciting,” she says.