Jennifer Dunne

Professor and Vice President for Science

Jennifer 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 Ecology and Systematic Biology from San Francisco State University, a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from the University of California 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, and sponsored research.

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 flows of energy and resources in ecosystems and thus play a central role in ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Drawing on cross-system analysis and computational modeling, Jennifer and her collaborators seek to identify fundamental patterns and principles of ecological network structure and dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales, including research on ancient food webs from ecosystems many millions of years old. Such research provides a powerful framework for understanding the coexistence of species and the robustness, persistence, and stability of ecosystems, including how humans fit into, impact, and benefit from ecosystems through their myriad interactions with other species.

Professor Dunne was named a Fellow of the Network Science Society in 2020 and a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America in 2017.

Her publications have appeared in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USATrends in Ecology and EvolutionPLoS BiologyPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society BProceedings of the Royal Society BEcology Letters, EcologyEcological MonographsNature SustainabilityPaleobiology, and Antiquity.

Her work has been covered in media outlets including Scientific American, Wired, Quanta, SmartPlanet, ScienceNow, Nature News, and This Week in Science. She has served as an editor at the Journal of Complex Networks, Ecology Letters, and other journals, is a series editor for the Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution, and is on the advisory board of the science and culture magazine Nautilus.