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Conference on complexity offers new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration
Date:11/17/2008

IRVINE, Calif. -- More than 160 participants gathered this week for the sixth annual National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE conference. This year's topic, "Complex Systems," drew scientists, engineers, medical researchers, economists, and philosophers to discuss new interdisciplinary approaches to researching complex systems such as ecosystems, financial markets, communication networks, and biology.

H. Eugene Stanley Ph.D., director, Center for Polymer Studies, Boston University, and this year's conference chair told participants, "We have an opportunity to catalyze new collaborations among individuals from different disciplines, formulate new questions that haven't even been asked before, and devise possible ways to address them."

To encourage further interdisciplinary work, the National Academies announced the availability of $1 million in seed grants up to $100,000 each to speed new lines of research identified at the conference. Recipients of the competitive grants will be announced in April 2009.

As one way to bridge communication gaps among researchers from different fields, the organizers held pre-conference webcast "tutorials" in which speakers provided an overview of their fields in language that scientists, engineers, or researchers from other disciplines could understand. These tutorials are available online at www.keckfutures.org.

During the conference, researchers participated in one of twelve task groups to develop possible to approaches to particular challenges. Among the challenges were how to achieve a sustainable quality of life; how can we use engineering systems to address complexity in other fields; how to control flow and transport in complex systems; and how can we develop effective strategies for treatment and/or prevention for common complex disorders of the central nervous system. Representatives from public and private funding organizations,
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Contact: William Skane
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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