From the three Rs to the three Cs: Complexity, Creativity, Collaboration

Network News Fall 2012, Vol. 25 No. 3
ASM Reports
Presented by Luís Nunes Amaral, Northwestern University

“Even in problems that we think we we have it all figured out when we try to do something different we can be surprised.”

Luis Amaral, a native of Portugal, is a Professor of Medicine, Chemical, and Biological Engineering at the Amaral Lab of Complex Systems and Systems Biology at Northwestern University. His research aims to address some of the most pressing challenges facing human societies and the world’s ecosystems. He recently proposed the development of cartographic methods to allow important biological information to be collected at a scale of interest to the researcher, much like Google Maps allows travelers to determine the best route to their destination based on hotels, gas stations, and so on, in the immediate vicinity.Amaral’s provocative plenary presentation examined system complexity and how it affects what scientists see or fail to see, as well as on issues of creativity and collaboration in research. Using examples from nature and engineering, Amaral applied theories from computer science to explain complexity in ecological systems.

“Complexity is in our blind spot, the things that we cannot see…the systems that we are studying now we have lots of blind spots. The question is, what can we do to try to solve problems in which we have lots of blind spots?”

Watch a video of Dr. Amaral’s’ presentation From the three Rs to the three Cs: Complexity, Creativity, Collaboration.

By Danielle Stevens (LNO)