Professor and Vice President for Science
Jennifer A. 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 biology from San Francisco State University, a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC 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, sponsored research, and communications.
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 flow 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. Such research provides a useful framework for understanding the coexistence of species and the robustness, persistence, and stability of ecosystems, including how humans fit into and impact ancient, historic, and current ecosystems. In addition to basic research, Jennifer and her collaborators develop ecoinformatic technologies to facilitate sharing, synthesis, visualization, analysis, and modeling of data related to biocomplexity research.
Jennifer’s publications have appeared in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, PLoS Biology, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Ecology Letters, Ecology, and Ecological Monographs. Her work has been covered in media outlets including Scientific American, Wired, SmartPlanet, ScienceNow, and Nature News. She serves as an editor at Ecology Letters and the Journal of Complex Networks, is a series editor for the Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution, and is on the advisory board of the new science and culture magazine Nautilus.