Abstract: Interdisciplinary research in the 21st century is characterized by bidirectional flows: one domain provides inspiration to another, which, after an advance, provides inspiration back to the donating domain. In this abstract I outline three such flows between the domains of evolutionary biology and robotics. First, biological evolution shapes all aspects of an organism's body and brain simultaneously. This led to work in which artificial evolution optimizes the morphology and neural control of robots such that they perform increasingly sophisticated tasks. Second, evolution causes change over evolutionary time, but also over the lifetime of the organism. This led to work in which virtual robots change body plans as they evolve to perform more complex tasks, but their bodies also change as they perform those tasks. Finally, evolution always works on populations. This led to work in which populations of humans collaborate and compete to evolve increasingly sophisticated robots.
[edit database entry]
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.
Danforth 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, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
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.
Hines' 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.
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).