James Holehouse

How do the regulatory systems of governments change as they grow? Do bigger governments require more or fewer bureaucrats per capita? Are more efficient bureaucracies possible? Program Postdoctoral Fellow James Holehouse is fascinated by how complex systems, from governments to cells, change over time. 

Working with SFI Professor Sidney Redner under an NSF Rules of Life grant, Holehouse joins a team of SFI researchers working on these questions. The project relies on toy models — ones simple enough to be studied analytically but which include the most important aspects of a regulatory mechanism. “A well-posed toy model would allow us to answer questions across a range of topics,” says Holehouse. “For example, how many air traffic controllers are required for a given number of planes? Or how many ‘regulatory genes’ are required for a genome of a given size?”

Holehouse holds a Ph.D. in mathematical biology and an M.Phys. in theoretical physics, both from the University of Edinburgh, and comes to SFI following an internship at Cambridge Econometrics where he developed a stochastic modeling toolkit to study economic systems. At SFI, he’ll draw on the principle of network motifs to explore what conditions support stability in a regulatory network, and whether network structures in larger regulatory networks are similar to structures in smaller ones. Arriving Oct. 2022., supported by NSF Award 2133863.