BCCS International Advisory Board seminar

16 November 2012, 8.45 AM - 16 November 2012, 8.45 AM

Engineers' House, 16th-17th November 2012

We are delighted to announce the Complexity Sciences IAB seminar which will take place at Engineers' House on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2012.

This seminar includes talks from five esteemed members of the BCCS International Advisory Board alongside presentations from the BCCS students and a poster session which provide a flavour of the quality and range of interdisciplinary research undertaken by the Complexity Sciences students.

If you would like to find out more about what we do at the BCCS and hear some interesting complexity inspired talks by world leading experts, please register before Friday 2nd November.

Seminar programme

Friday 16th November 2012

Time Event Speaker
09:30-10:30 Registration and coffee
10:30-11:00 Welcome and Introduction John Hogan
11:00-11:45 Overcoming Molecular Complexity Jeremy Gunawardena
11:45-12:15 Coffee
12:15-13:00 Patterns in Nature and the Shapeshifting Phenomenon Nitant Kenkre
13:00-15:30 Lunch and Poster Session
15:30-16:30 Student Presentations:
Evolution of Disordered Protein
Modelling Emergence of Oscillations in a Population of Bacterial Cells
Vagueness in Co-operative and Competitive Language Games

Matt Oates
Petros Mina
Henrietta Eyre
16:30 -17.30 Close
17:30-18:00 Tour of BCCS IAB & BCCS staff
18:00-19:00 Meeting of BCCS Staff & Steering Committee with IAB
19:30-20:00 Pre-dinner Drinks
20:00-22:00 Dinner

Saturday 17th November 2012

Time Event Speaker
09:30-10:15 Complexity in Genetics: Disease Genes and Evolution Warren Ewens
10:15-11:00 Universal Scaling Laws, Network Structures, Sustainability and the Pace of Life from Cells to Cities Geoffrey West
11:00-11:30 Coffee
11:30-12:30 Student Presentations:
Modelling the Impact of Aircraft Emissions on Atmospheric Composition and Climate
On Cdk/Cdc14 Oscillations in the Cell Cycle
Bioinspiration from Animals that Control the Flow of Polarized Light

Donata Wasiuk
Thomas Todd
Tom Jordan
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-14:45 On Pinning Control of Complex Networks Ron Chen
14:45-15:45 Student Presentations:
Models of Basal Ganglia
Modelling Epidemics of Meningitis in Sub-Saharan Africa
Visual Biometric Identification of Individual Animals using Deformable Shape Recognition

Alex Pavlides
Tom Irving
Benjamin Hughes
15:45-16:15 Coffee
16:15-18:15 Panel Discussion All
18:15-18:30 Concluding Remarks All

Prof Jeremy Gunawardena

Overcoming molecular complexity


Biological systems exhibit formidable complexity at the molecular level, which presents one of the biggest challenges to understanding how physiology emerges from molecules. I will discuss recent progress in using mathematical ideas to get on top of this complexity and infer general principles.


I received my PhD in algebraic topology from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1981 and was subsequently a Dickson Instructor at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. My interest in complexity took me to Hewlett-Packard (HP) Research in 1987, where I became Director of Basic Research and set up HP's BRIMS (Basic Research Institute in Mathematical Sciences). I was appointed to the Council of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) from 1999-2001. I left HP in 2001, to become a Visiting Scientist at the Bauer Center for Genomics Research at Harvard. I joined the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School in 2004, where my lab studies information processing in eukaryotic cells, using a combination of experimental, theoretical and computational approaches.

Prof Nitant Kenkre

Patterns in Nature and the Shapeshifting Phenomenon


Pattern formation in nature is a ubiquitous and fascinating phenomenon. A simple description will be given of one possible mechanism among many: spatial nonlocality in competitive interactions [1-3]. A tutorial explanation will be presented of random walks or diffusion, then of the logistic equation, then of their combination to produce the Fisher equation, and finally of a generalization of the Fisher equation with spatial nonlocality which is capable of producing patterns. The role of diffusion in the pattern formation process will be discussed with possibilities of a remarkable shape shifting consequence of controlled motion that we have discovered recently [4].


Nonlocal Interaction Effects on Pattern Formation in Population Dynamics, M. A. Fuentes, M. N. Kuperman, and V.M. Kenkre: Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 158104-1 (2003).
Analytical Considerations in the Study of Spatial Patterns Arising from Nonlocal Interaction Effects, M. A. Fuentes, M. Kuperman, and V. M. Kenkre: J. Phys. Chem. B 108, 10505-10508 (2004).
Memory Formalism, Nonlinear Techniques, and Kinetic Equation Approaches, V. M. Kenkre, in Proceedings of the PASI on Modern Challenges in Statistical Mechanics: Patterns, Noise, and the Interplay of Nonlinearity and Complexity, eds. V. M. Kenkre and K. Lindenberg, AIP (2003).
Shape Shifting in Patterns Produced by Control of Diffusion: Theoretical Considerations, M. Kuperman and V. M. Kenkre, Consortium Preprint, UNM (2012).


V. M. (Nitant) Kenkre is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, USA), the founding director of a center in his university dedicated to international collaboration and interdisciplinary research driven by theoretical physics, and an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The center he directs, the Consortium of the Americas for Interdisciplinary Science, encourages scientific collaborations between Latin America and the USA and arranges numerous workshops and get-togethers in all participating countries.

Prof Warren Ewens

Complexity in genetics: disease genes and evolution


Complexity arises in genetics for reasons different from those applying (for example) in engineering. The human genome is the result of billions of years of evolution, which was unplanned and about which we can know few details. Further, evolution was not a man-made process: it just "happened". Stochastic events complicate our ability to decipher whatever information the genome is telling us about it. Illustrations from the quest for finding disease genes and understanding evolution will be given.


Warren J Ewens is the emeritus Christopher H Browne Distinguished Professor in the University of Pennsylvania. His training was in mathematics and statistics and his research has been in the application of mathematical and statistical techniques in genetics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Prof Geoffrey West

Universal Scaling Laws, Network Structures, Sustainability and the Pace of Life from Cells to Cities


Life is probably the most complex phenomenon in the Universe. Yet, its most fundamental properties, from cells to organisms and ecosystems, scale remarkably simply with size: time-scales from growth and metabolic rates to lifespans, and sizes from genomes to tree heights, scale as quarter powers of mass. These universal laws follow from mathematisable dynamical and geometric principles governing underlying networks that sustain life, leading to a general quantitative theory capturing essential features of diverse phenomena including vasculature, growth, cancer, aging, mortality, sleep, and evolutionary rates. Cities and companies also manifest "universal" scaling, including wages, patents, crime, police, gasoline and roads, suggesting that quantifiable principles govern their generic behaviour. Are they large organisms? Why then do cities persist, yet all companies die? Why does socio-economic life accelerate? Answers suggest dramatic implications for growth and sustainability: left unchecked, innovation and wealth creation that fuel the socio-economic fabric potentially lead to its collapse.


Geoffrey West is Distinguished Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London. Prior to SFI, he was leader of high energy physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he remains a Senior Fellow. He received his BA from Cambridge University in 1961 and his PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1966. After spells at Cornell and Harvard Universities, he returned to Stanford to join the faculty. West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics and biology, ranging from the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications to the origins of universal scaling laws and a unifying quantitative framework of biology. His research in biology has included metabolic rate, growth, aging & death, sleep, cancer, and ecosystem dynamics. His recent work has focused on developing an underlying quantitative theory for the structure and dynamics of cities, companies and long-term global sustainability, including rates of growth and innovation, the accelerating pace of life, and why companies die, yet cities survive. He has been featured in many TV productions and newspapers world-wide. Among recent awards are the Mercer Prize from the Ecological Society of America, the Weldon Prize for Mathematical Biology, the Glenn Award for Aging research and the Szilard Award from the American Physical Society. His work was selected as a breakthrough idea of 2007 by Harvard Business Review and, in 2006, he was selected for Time magazine's list of "100 Most Influential People in the World".

Prof Guanrong (Ron) Chen

On Pinning Control of Complex Networks


In this talk, pinning control of complex networks is presented and some particular control problems pertaining to large-scale dynamical networks are addressed and discussed. Given a network of dynamical systems (nodes) and a specific control objective (for example, controlled synchronization), assuming that a certain class of controllers such as local state-feedback controllers have been chosen to use, some typical questions about network control are how many controllers to use