Core team:

Peter Sheridan Dodds

Peter Sheridan Dodds  

Director, Vermont Complex Systems Center

Peter's research focuses on system-level, big data problems in many areas including language and stories, sociotechnical systems, Earth sciences, biology, and ecology. Peter has created (and constantly evolves) a series of complex systems courses starting with Principles of Complex Systems. He co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Chris Danforth.

Juniper Lovato

Juniper Lovato  

Director of Outreach for Complex Systems, Vermont Complex Systems Center

At the Vermont Complex Systems Center, Juniper works across generations and geographical limits to make resources and knowledge on cutting-edge complexity science more accessible to those with a hunger and curiosity for learning and exploration. Juniper came to Burlington in 2018. She previously served as the Director of Education for the Santa Fe Institute, an independent complexity science research center. She is also a co-founder of MAKE Santa Fe, a not-for-profit community makerspace in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Juniper received her Master’s in the Western Classics from St. John’s College in 2013 where she completed a thesis on the nature of pleasure in work in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

Chris Danforth

Chris Danforth  

Flint Professor of Mathematical, Natural, and Technical Sciences, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Chris is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds.

Joshua Bongard

Joshua Bongard  

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science

Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.

Paul Hines

Paul Hines  

Associate Professor, School of Engineering

Hines's work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.

Margaret (Maggie) Eppstein

Margaret (Maggie) Eppstein  

Chair & Professor, Department of Computer Science

Eppstein’s research interests involve developing and applying complex systems methods (including evolutionary and agent-based computation, artificial neural networks, and complex network methods) to problems in a variety of biological, environmental, technological, and sociological domains.

Jim Bagrow

Jim Bagrow  

Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).

Hugh Garavan

Hugh Garavan  

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology/Psychiatry

Hugh's research applies functional brain imaging to understanding human cognition. He has a specific interest in the cognitive control functions performed by the prefrontal cortex and how their dysfunction might be relevant for clinical conditions such as addiction.

Donna Rizzo

Donna Rizzo  

Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Rizzo's research focuses on the development of new computational tools to improve the understanding of human-induced changes on natural systems and the way we make decisions about natural resources.

Laurent Hébert-Dufresne

Laurent Hébert-Dufresne  

Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.

Brian Tivnan

Brian Tivnan  

Chief Engineer, MITRE Corporation

Tivnan, a UVM Complex Systems Center affiliate, is the Burlington site leader and chief engineer in the Modeling & Simulation Department for the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that manages federally funded research and development centers, partnering with government sponsors to support their crucial operational missions. His current research interests include the study of conflict and quantitative finance.

Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson  

Professor, Department of Economics

Dr. Gibson's main interest, in both his teaching and research, is building and simulating macroeconomic models for developing countries. As a second area of interest is NASA, space policy and the aerospace industry. This is an outgrowth of one of the principals themes running throughout his teaching and his research, the proper relationship between the private and public sectors.

Randall Harp

Randall Harp  

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Harp's main research interests are in the philosophy of action (particularly collective action, free will, and decision theory) and in the philosophy of social science. His research engages with questions of the proper way to characterize individual versus collective goals, and of the proper way for a model of deliberation to incorporate these goals such that we can account for collective action. He is also interested in the explanatory powers of collective entities (including questions of how much reduction can be had of those collective entities, and of the form that the reduction takes). His other research interests include the explanatory adequacy of rational choice models of human agency, and of the nature of explanation in the behavioral sciences.

Jane Adams

Jane Adams  

Data Visualization Artist in Residence, MassMutual and the Vermont Complex Systems Center

Adams collaborates with fellow team members at the Vermont Complex Systems Center to make the complex comprehensible through engaging visualizations. As a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Emergent Media student at Champlain College, her graduate thesis work celebrates the relationship between science and the arts through trans-disciplinary graphical explorations of holonic and cybernetic systems. Jane also has a passion for exhibit designs that support participatory culture.

Nick Cheney

Nick Cheney

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

Nick's research draws inspiration from biological systems to design machine learning algorithms for artificial neural networks. This involves creating more flexible, scalable, and context-aware robots and decision-making systems through a variety of techniques like deep learning, reinforcement learning, evolutionary computation, and meta-learning. Nick is currently a Research Assistant Professor in Computer Science. Prior to that he studied Applied Mathematics at UVM and received his PhD from Cornell, studying Computational Biology under Hod Lipson and Steve Strogatz, while also serving as a research fellow at NASA.

Safwan Wshah

Safwan Wshah  

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

Wshah's research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning theory and its applications to real-world applications. His broader interests in deep learning, computer vision, data analytics reinforcement learning and image processing. Before joining the University of Vermont, Dr. Wshah worked for Xerox and PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), where he was involved in several projects creating machine learning algorithms for different applications in healthcare, transportation and education fields.

Puck Rombach

Puck Rombach  

Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Rombach's research bridges gaps between the pure and applied sides of graph/network theory. Sample areas of interest for Rombach include graph coloring, random graphs, algorithms and complexity, graph representations of matroids, crime network modeling, and core-periphery/centrality detection in networks. Prior to UVM, Rombach was an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA, working with Andrea Bertozzi. Rombach earned her PhD at the University of Oxford in 2013, under the supervision of Mason Porter and Alex Scott.

Mads R. Almassalkhi

Mads R. Almassalkhi

Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences

Almassalkhi's research interests lie at the intersection of power systems, optimization, and controls. Almassalkhi works on developing novel feedback and optimization algorithms that improve resilience of power systems, which is increasingly more important as power systems are operating closer and closer to their limits.

The Roboctopus

The Roboctopus

Cephalopod, robot suit enhanced

The Roboctopus is our secret overlord joyful mascot. The Roboctopus is a real, non-pantomime octopus inside an advanced robot suit designed for supermarine activities. The Roboctopus is an avid proponent of the sciences of all complex systems, with a personal interest in those found in biology, engineering, the sociotechnocene, distributed computing (neurons in tentacles), big data, and mollusks. The Roboctopus is well adapted to Vermont and enjoys skiing and building Snowboctopuses.