Better understanding of complex systems – through connectivity research
It deals with the transport of sediment in river networks, of stimuli in the brain, of information in groups of people and of environmental influences in metabolic networks: If a system consists of many parts that interact, self-organize and jointly generate an action, it is considered to be „complex“. A transdisciplinary project funded by the European Union is dedicated to explaining these complex systems with the help of connectivity research. The project involves seven disciplines and 13 partners, including Jacobs University and Dr. Marc-Thorsten Hütt, Professor of Computational Systems Biology.
The brain is a complex system, cells and the internet are – or even landscapes, which are shaped by the sediment transport caused by wind and water. Science often knows a lot about individual parts of such a system, but less about the big, coherent picture. The organization of complex systems as networks and the resulting dynamic behavior are the subject of connectivity research.
Connectivity thinking is present in many disciplines. As of now, there has been no attempt to bring it together transcending the boundaries of disciplines. The research project „Interdisciplinary connectivity: Understanding and managing complex systems using connectivity science“ aims to achieve exactly this. It creates a network of astrophysicists, computer scientists, ecologists, geomorphologists, hydrologists, neuroscientists, systems biologists and social scientists.
„With connectivity science, we want to initiate a new field of research that unites these diverse disciplines within the same methodological framework,“ says Prof. Hütt. The aim is to develop a toolbox containing methods that can be employed by all disciplines. As part of the project, Prof. Hütt’s research group will train two out of 15 PhD students, serve as second supervisors for three other PhD students, and conduct an interdisciplinary workshop on the campus of Jacobs University.
The research project is initially limited to three years. Scientists from Great Britain, Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Norway and the Netherlands are involved. The funding volume for Jacobs University amounts to half a million euros.
About Jacobs University Bremen:
Studying in an international community. Obtaining a qualification to work on responsible tasks in a digitized and globalized society. Learning, researching and teaching across academic disciplines and countries. Strengthening people and markets with innovative solutions and advanced training programs. This is what Jacobs University Bremen stands for. Established as a private, English-medium campus university in Germany in 2001, it is continuously achieving top results in national and international university rankings. Its more than 1,500 students come from more than 120 countries with around 80% having relocated to Germany for their studies. Jacobs University’s research projects are funded by the German Research Foundation or the EU Research and Innovation program as well as by globally leading companies.
For more information: www.jacobs-university.de
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Prof. Dr. Marc-Thorsten Hütt