SFI and Arizona State University have launched a major new research and education collaboration that focuses on problems at the intersections of complex biological and social systems.

SFI President Jerry Sabloff and ASU President Michael Crow formally established the new ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems during a January 16 signing ceremony and day of science talks and panel discussions in Tempe, Ariz.

The Center will build a deeper theoretical understanding of the interconnections between biological and social systems and apply that knowledge to questions in both science and policy.

“The synergy of two intellectual powerhouses such as SFI and ASU can accelerate how our community and nation tackles questions such as disease patterns and healthcare delivery,” said Crow. “We can generate tools to better understand how decision-making systems work when scaled up to the level of the urban megalopolis.”

The collaboration pairs researchers from ASU, a leader in sustainability research, and SFI, a transdisciplinary complex systems research center. It is the Institute's first formal collaboration with a university.

“This new ASU-SFI collaborative venture has immense potential for the advancement of complexity science at both institutions,” said Sabloff.

Two areas of focus for the partnership are the dynamics of innovation and urbanization and scaling in cities. As cities grow they face new dilemmas and challenges, especially as they strive to be more sustainable. Phoenix is one such city, and ASU seeks insights that are useful both locally and globally.

ASU will provide support for faculty and postdoc hiring to support joint research and education activities at both institutions. Sponsored activities include workshops, working groups, graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, faculty appointments, faculty exchange visits, seminar series, and other joint projects and proposals between ASU and SFI.

ASU President’s Professor Manfred Laubichler and ASU Foundation Professor Sander van der Leeuw serves as the Center’s directors, reporting to ASU Provost Robert E. Page. Jr. All three hold joint appointments as SFI external professors. The two directors plus SFI Vice President for Science Jennifer Dunne and Sabloff serve as the center’s steering committee.

“This is a great opportunity for both institutions, and will help to expand the scope, vision, and reach of complex systems research,” said Dunne. “For SFI, it is a new model for collaboration that might pave the way for partnerships with other academic and research institutions in the future.”

The collaboration already has supported an October 2014 workshop at SFI on the origins of novelty in biological, social, and technological systems as well as a handful of postdoctoral appointments at SFI.

Watch Manfred Laubichler explain what the center is all about in a news clip on ASU Channel 8 (January 29, 2015)

Read the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (January 15, 2015)

Read the article in the Albuquerque Journal (January 15, 2015)

Read the article in Cronkite News (January 21, 2015)

Read ASU's news release (January 12, 2015)

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