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Peter Sheridan DoddsPeter 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
Director of Outreach for Complex Systems, UVM Complex Systems Center; Program Director, MassMutual Center of Excellence in Complex Systems and Data Science, University of Vermont, Vermont Complex Systems Center

Juniper Lovato is the Director of Education and Outreach for Complex Systems at the Vermont Complex Systems Center and the Program Director for the MassMutual Center of Excellence in Complex Systems and Data Science at the University of Vermont. Juniper works across generations and geographical areas to design educational resources and scientific generative processes focused on complexity science and STEM. 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. Her research interests include generative processes design, ethics in science and technology, complex systems science, and equity in STEM fields.

Melissa Rubinchuk
Center Coordinator, Vermont Complex Systems Center

Melissa has an educational background in marine science and real life experience in off-grid sustainable living. After moving to Vermont almost 9 years ago from the Bahamas, she began a residential and commercial property management business here in Burlington. She brings business, customer service, education, and entrepreneurial experience to her position coordinating the day-to-day logistics and operations of the MassMutual Center of Excellence and the Vermont Complex Systems Center. Contact:

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
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
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
Research Professor in Computer Science, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Data Visualization Artist, MassMutual Center of Excellence 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
Research 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.

Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne
Director, Spatial Analysis Laboratory

Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne is the Director of the University of Vermont’s (UVM) Spatial Analysis Laboratory and serves in a joint capacity with the USDA Forest Service Research & Development. Over the years his research has focused on the application of geospatial technology to a broad range of natural resource related issues such as environmental justice, wildlife habitat mapping, high-elevation forest decline, land cover change detection, community health, and water quality modeling. Most recently his work has centered on urban ecosystems. The results of his urban tree canopy assessments have been used by dozens of communities to establish tree canopy goals. Jarlath is well known for his expertise in object-based image analysis (OBIA) and speaks regularly on a wide range of geospatial related topics at local, regional, and national conferences. In addition to his research duties Jarlath teaches introductory and advanced courses in geospatial technology. He also oversees the university Trimble Innovation Program. Jarlath earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Hampshire, a Masters of Science in Water Resources from the University of Vermont, and certificates in hyperspectral image exploitation and joint GIS operations from the National Geospatial Intelligence College. For over a decade he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps (active & reserve) with tours in East Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia. During the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom he co-directed the Marine Corps’ imagery intelligence assets. At UVM he is the faculty/staff advisor for the Veterans Collaborative Organization Jarlath is the recipient of the Vermont Spatial Data Partnership’s 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award, a member of the team recognized with the New York State GIS Partnership Award in 2008, and the US Forest Service Northern Research Station’s 2010 award for Excellence in Science and Technology. He is currently serving on the AmericaView Board of Directors For more information on Jarlath’s research and teaching please following the links on the left, or visit his blog, Letters from the SAL. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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
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
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
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.