Professor of Neolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology (University of Oxford)

Amy Bogaard works at the intersection of archaeology and archaeobotany to explore early farming practices and land use in Europe and western Asia. Collaborating with plant ecologists, isotope geochemists, agronomists, and economists, she aims to understand how those practices have evolved into present-day traditional farming.

Bogaard is currently leading the European Research Council’s Agricultural Origins of Urban Civilization (AGRICURB) project, which aims to refine and integrate new methods of reconstructing past crop growing conditions to evaluate the nature and social significance of farming practices in Europe and Western Asia. Her other current projects range from excavations in Knossos, Crete; studying economic integration and cultural survival in Neolithic Turkey; and developing new approaches to palaeodietary and agricultural reconstruction.

Earlier this year, Bogaard co-taught a graduate/post-graduate short course at Oxford, “Inequality: Archaeological and Economic Perspectives” with SFI Professor Sam Bowles.  The course attracted wide interest in the School of Archaeology and enhanced the profile of multidisciplinary approaches to social inequality at Oxford.

Bogaard earned her Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield and received the Shanghai Archaeology Forum Research Award for her AGRICURB and paleodietary projects. 


Associate Professor in Sociology and Complex Systems (University of Michigan)

Elizabeth Bruch has explored a broad array of population phenomena where the actions of individuals, families, couples and neighborhoods are dynamically interdependent. Her early work blended statistical and agent-based methods to examine the relationship between individuals’ decisions about where to live and patterns of residential segregation.

Bruch is currently developing “cognitively plausible” statistical models that aim to represent individuals’ underlying decision processes using new data sources like mobile devices and the Internet along with existing choice models. She uses “big data” as behavioral data to observe how people explore their environment, engage in novel or habitual behaviors, interact with others, and learn from past experiences.

Working with a treasure trove of data on how millions of individuals search for and pursue mates, Bruch is uncovering new methods and theoretical frameworks for understanding the link between human behavior and social dynamics. Her latest project looks at mate preferences and marriage market dynamics in the world of online dating.

Bruch earned her Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles and was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar. Her article on racial tolerance and race-ethnic segregation, Neighborhood Choice and Neighborhood Change, won the Gould Prize, and the James S. Coleman and Robert Park Best Article awards from the American Sociological Association. 


Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences (Harvard University)

Barbara Grosz develops computational theories and methods that enable computer agents to work effectively with people over the long term in uncertain, dynamic environments. Her current research explores ways collaborative multi-agent systems and collaborative human-computer interaction design can improve the systems patients and physicians use for healthcare planning, coordination, and communication. She also investigates uses of models of collaboration for science and math education.

Grosz’s contributions to Artificial Intelligence include pioneering research in dialogue processing and multi-agent systems collaboration and their application to human-computer interaction. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society and fellow of several scientific societies, she received the 2009 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award, the 2015 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, and the 2017 Association for Computational Linguistics Lifetime Achievement Award. Known for her role in the establishment and leadership of multidisciplinary institutions, she is widely respected for her many contributions to the advancement of women in science.

Grosz received her undergraduate degree from Cornell and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California Berkeley. A member of the SRI International AI Center before joining the Harvard faculty, she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and Hebrew University. 


Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy (Purdue University)

Using rapid, iterative feedback between theory and experiments, Srividya Iyer-Biswas works to discover the basic physical laws that govern the probabilistic behavior of single cells, and that transcend details of specific biological systems. Her research uses a top-down physics approach rather than more traditional approaches that focus on the cartography of genetic networks and on molecular details.

Iyer-Biswas and her team have reported predicative scaling laws governing the stochastic growth and division of cells, and have developed a theory that reveals the emergence of a scalable, cellular unit of time. Her current work involves extending these results to thermodynamics of organismal computation, time-dependent phenomena involving cellular decision-making, and laws that dictate complex biological and social phenomena.

Iyer-Biswas began her career as a theoretical physicist, then transitioned to experimental biophysics as a post-doc at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. rough her interdisciplinary work — combining theory and application, and spanning physics and biology — her goal is to ultimately advance the fundamental physics of living systems. Iyer-Biswas was named a 2017 Scialog Fellow for Molecules Come to Life. 


Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor, Sloan School of Management; Director, Laboratory for Financial Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Andrew W. Lo draws on finance, economics, evolutionary biology and ecology, cognitive neuroscience, computer science, and engineering to tackle problems related to investment strategies, investor behavior, risk management, regulatory policy, and how research ideas can be can be applied to real-world situations.

Much of his research over the past two decades has been devoted to understanding the impact of human behavior on financial markets and policy, culminating in his new book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of ought.

Lo’s current research expands on this work, including developing new methods for measuring and managing risks in the financial system and researching new business models and financial structures to support scalable and profitable biomedical research and drug development. He is also applying machine-learning and natural language processing to develop real-world solutions to common financial industry challenges.

Lo received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, and has taught finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is currently co-editor of the Annual Review of Financial Economics and an associate editor of the Financial Analysts Journal, the Journal of Portfolio Management, and the Journal of Computational Finance. His awards include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and awards for teaching excellence from both Wharton and MIT. 


Professor and Group Leader, Computational EvoDevo (University of Leipzig)

Sonja Prohaska studies gene regulation, from the theoretical consideration of the gene concept to the evolutionary history of special genetic regulatory mechanisms.

Drawing from both her computer science and genetics background, she seeks to investigate whether epigenetic regulation — sitting “on top of” the DNA — can be understood as a computation device. And using modeling and computer simulation, she is working to uncover the causes of cell differentiation.

Working across multiple disciplines at SFI, Prohaska will explore evolution – a central theme of her research - as it relates to technology, culture and language. She hopes to introduce more theory to the life sciences and to go beyond individual models toward universal theories.

On a recent visit to SFI for back-to-back workshops on the thermodynamics of computation in chemical and biological systems, Prohaska was part of a team working to collect and review ideas on what it is that biological systems compute.

Prohaska is a professor and project leader for Evolution and Development at Leipzig University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioinformatics and leads Computational EvoDevo at the University’s Institute of Computer Science, where she earned her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics. 


Linguistics Researcher (Russian State University of the Humanities)

George Starostin has spent over a decade at the Center of Comparative Studies and the Department of Far Eastern Philology of the Russian State University for the Humanities, where he advances the work of his late father, Sergei Starostin, formerly Russia’s leading specialist in comparative linguistics.

As co-director of the SFI-coordinated international Evolution of Human Languages project, initiated by Dr. Murray
Gell-Mann, Starostin has made important contributions to the study of the linguistic prehistory of humanity, working toward a global phylogenetic classification of the approximately 6000 languages spoken today, similar to the classification of biological species. He has also been instrumental in the development of e Tower of Babel, an online system of etymological databases for the world’s languages started by his father.

Starostin is currently focused on the languages of Africa, including hypothetical language families such as Nilo-Saharan and Khoisan (formerly known as Bushman-Hottentot) of South Africa. is field remains particularly challenging due to the extreme complexity and unique features of these languages, including the Khoisan “click” phonemes, which do not occur in any other language family.

Starostin received his Specialist degree in theoretical and applied linguistics and defended his Candidate thesis in comparative Dravidian linguistics at the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow