Complex Systems and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Professor Fernanda Valdovinos has established a Santa Fe Institute (SFI) Working Group with co-organizer Phillip Staniczenko of the University of Maryland College Park and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center. The Working Group is referred to as ‘Early Career Scientists working in Ecological Networks’.   The idea for the group came out of a discussion between Dr.’s Valdovinos and Staniczenko which took place at the Annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland (August 2017).  Fernanda describes the motivation to establish the working group as follows 

"There is a critical mass of early-career researchers studying ecological networks in the United States, representing a fantastic opportunity to share methods, introduce collaborations, and outline exciting new research directions.”


Dr. Valdovinos had participated in SFI working groups previously and realized that their discussion could be the basis of a new group.  “A working group offers a platform for increasing the collective influence of early-career researchers in ecology, and a venue for exploring the application of networks to decision-making, policy, education, and outreach."

With Dr. Jennifer Dunne, SFI’s on-site collaborator, the working group proposal was put together and subsequently accepted and the group was established.  The first meeting “Next-Generation Ecological Network Theory and Application” took place 5-7 November 2018 at the Santa Fe Institute. Valdovinos noted that the meeting was very productive and resulted in a specific action to put together a book entitled "Reckless Ideas in Ecological Networks" to be published under the SFI press.

The second of three planned meetings for the group, called "Reckless Ideas in Ecological Networks" after the book, will take place at the University of Michigan 9-10 May 2019.  This meeting will continue the longstanding collaboration between SFI and CSCS and the tradition of organizing a Symposium featuring speakers from UM and SFI in Ann Arbor annually.

A third group meeting is planned for January 2019 at MIT.  Read more about the Early Career Scientist working group in this SFI article in which Dr. Valdovinos is interviewed.  Dr. Luis Zaman, Collegiate Fellow, also of the University of Michigan Complex Systems and EEB, is also a member of this working group.  The 12 member group consists of:

Organizers:
Phillip Staniczenko, University of Maryland College Park and National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center
Fernando Valdovinos, University of Michigan, Complex Systems and Theoretical Ecology

SFI Local:
Jennifer Dunne, Santa Fe Institute
Jacopo Grilli, Santa Fe Institute

Members:
Ben Baiser, University of Florida
Allison Barner, University of California-Berkeley
Paul CaraDonna, Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University
David Hembry,  University of Arizona
Mark Novak, Oregon State University
Lauren Ponisio, University of California Riverside
Justin Yeakel, University of California Merced
Luis Zaman, University of Michigan

Dr. Valdovinos also established a multi-disciplinary ‘NETWORKS’ group at the University of Michigan, where faculty and researchers from across campus whose work involves networks meet monthly to utilize their collective wisdom to further their research projects and network analysis skill sets.

Congratulations to Dr. Valdovinos on these accomplishments during her first year at the University of Michigan!