Serguei Saavedra

External Professor

Serguei Saavedra is an Associate Professor at MIT in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Serguei is a theoretical community ecologist and head of the Systems Ecology Group at MIT. Before joining MIT in 2016, Serguei studied systems engineering in Mexico; specialized in mathematical modeling in Italy; completed his PhD in engineering science at Oxford University; and did his postdoctoral work at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems, Doñana Biological Station, and in the Department of Environmental Systems at ETH. He joined the SFI external faculty in 2023.

Serguei’s work has been centered on understanding the emergent context-dependent behavior of ecological systems (biotic communities and the nonliving environment) using formal procedures of complex systems thinking, synthesis, and mathematical modeling. His work has been rooted on the notion of structural stability (the capacity of a system to display a particular behavior despite small perturbations to its dynamics) and uses tools as varied as: feasibility analysis, population dynamics, statistical mechanics, information theory, metabolic scaling theory, homology, matrix theory, network theory, geometry, causal inference, and empirical dynamic modeling. He has formalized and corroborated the feasibility principle in ecology explaining the limits in the diversity of biotic communities in nature. He is now looking to understand the feasible bioenergetic limits shaping the evolvability and adaptability of complex living systems under changing environments—the limits of life itself.