The University of Southampton

Student Conference on Complexity Science addresses issues of the day

Published: 3 August 2011

The first Student Conference on Complexity Science which takes place this week (5-6 August)in Winchester will feature over 80 presentations demonstrating how the discipline is addressing challenges such as global sustainability, energy, climate, finance and technology.

The conference is being organised by PhD students from the University of Southampton’s Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) and will bring together complexity science students from across the UK and particularly the UK’s three EPSRC Doctoral Training Centres at the Universities of Bristol, Southampton and Warwick.

The students will present their current work during the conference, addressing research problems spanning a broad range of scientific disciplines such as social science and economics, climate and earth science, biomedical and neural systems, ecosystems, biodiversity and sustainability, physical systems and materials science, cell biology, molecular biology and biochemical systems, the web, critical infrastructure and techno-social systems, networks science, evolution, and language.

Lord Robert May, distinguished professor, former president of the Royal Society and chief Government scientist, will deliver a keynote speech on Friday 5 August in which he will present his latest work with the Bank of England’s Executive Director for Financial Stability, Andy Haldane, on how techniques pioneered to model complex biological ecosystems can be used to deal with systemic risk in financial “ecosystems” in order to avoid financial disasters such as the ones experienced globally over the last half-decade.

The second keynote speaker on Saturday 6 August is Luis Amaral, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University, who is a world authority and pioneer in network science. His research aims to address some of the most pressing challenges facing human societies, including the mitigation of errors in healthcare settings, the characterisation of the conditions fostering innovation and creativity, and the growth limits imposed by sustainability.

The students will address a wide range of subjects. A public engagement study by James Crossley at Manchester Metropolitan University will look at how complexity science can be used to conduct studies of zombie, vampire and werewolf attacks on a population. Other interesting contributions involve using complexity science for mathematical modelling of cell fate regulatory networks by Sonya Ridden, University of Southampton; decoding the statistics of neural networks by Marc Box, University of Bristol, and game theoretic models of crime prevention by Hemant Pasi, University of Warwick.

The conference main themes are: • Core Research in Complexity Science • Physical and Engineered Complexity • Biological and Environmental Complexity • Socio-economic and Socio-technological Complexity.

Professor Seth Bullock, who directs the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) at the University of Southampton, said: “The UK is investing significant sums in training and supporting the next generation of complexity scientists because they are able to bring a new set of tools to bear on critically important interdisciplinary research challenges, such as those surrounding issues of global sustainability, energy, climate, finance and technology. This conference is the first chance for the UK’s complexity science PhD students to come together as a community and learn from each other.”

The first annual Student Conference on Complexity Science will be held at the Stripe Theatre, Winchester University, 5-6 August 2011.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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