Abstract: When a tenth of humanity lost power over 2 days in India in July 2012, technical failure was not the only culprit. Like many recent blackouts, this outage resulted from couplings among systems, including extreme weather exacerbated by climate change, human operator errors, suboptimal policies, and market forces. Predictions that climate change intensifies droughts and tropical cyclones presage more weather-induced blackouts. Even without weather disasters, small disturbances can trigger cascading failures, and so can ill-designed electricity markets (1) and dependence on cyber infrastructure.
Reliable electricity provides more than convenience; it fuels economies, governments, health care, education, and poverty reduction. As populations shift to cities and consume more energy, confronting the multifaceted challenges to reliable electricity becomes paramount.
However, enhancing reliability is no easy task. Upgrades can provide safety buffers, yet economic pressures can quickly consume new capacity. The opposing objectives of reliability and cost balance such that massive blackouts, albeit rare, continue to plague electric power systems (2). Regulation is …
[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).