Welcome to the Center for BioComplexity

Overview

Biological systems, from ecosystems to the biosphere, support our continued existence on the planet. From them we derive food and fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals. Ecosystems mediate local and regional climates, stabilize soils, purify water and in general provide a nearly endless list of services essential to life as we know it. The case for the preservation of ecosystems and these services is manifestly clear; the essential challenges are in the details of how to do it. The key is in understanding biocomplexity -- how it arises, how it is maintained, and how it sustains the services we derive from it.

The Center for BioComplexity examines the mechanisms, from cells to ecosystems and the biosphere, sustaining crucial regional and global processes that underlie our life-support systems. Necessarily, these investigations include interactions between natural and socio-ecologic systems, and hence the dynamics of coupled human and environmental systems. The research approach combines empirical and theoretical work, documenting emergent laws of organization, and examining through sophisticated modeling the mechanisms that generate and maintain biocomplexity and predictable features of ecological organization. The CBC is directed by Simon A. Levin, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Highlights of 2019-2020

The collaboration with the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is in full swing, with multiple collaborative efforts ongoing in the areas of global food and agriculture, and sustainable cities, among other topics. Also, parts one and two of the second Arizona State University-Princeton University Dialogue in Complexity Workshop Series was held, the topic of this series being political polarization. The McDonnell-Foundation-sponsored working group continues, with a reset due to the current pandemic. In regard to the latter, we have begun multiple projects related to COVID-19, including a partnership with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to advise on risks of reopeniing and steps to make reopening as safe as possible.

To read about the Princeton-PIK-SRC Collaboration, Earth Resilience and Sustainability Initiative, click here.