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A New Research Initiative

Plexus is excited to announce the creation of a new program within the Institute – the Complexity Research Initiative. Expanding on Plexus’ dedication to foster profound and positive impact through the application of complexity science, the Initiative is intended to bring a complexity perspective to some of the most intractable real-world challenges. This diverse set of issues that have remained unmanageable despite conscientious endeavors includes cancer, climate change, global economic cycles, and more. Despite their obvious differences, these issues share many characteristics of complex systems – they are chaotic, fractal, dynamic, and sensitive to external influences and internal fluctuations.

David Rampulla is directing the Complexity Research Initiative. His long term interest in self-organization, complex systems, and emergence has been spurred by his career in cross-disciplinary scientific research. By building partnerships, he hopes to expand the boundaries of complexity science research to make inroads in some of the biggest issues facing society. Dr. Rampulla believes the nonlinear and interconnected nature of today’s problems means some conventional efforts need to be replaced with or enhanced by complexity-informed methods. “I think Plexus is an ideal place to start a research program, because its broad mission to apply principles of complexity exists with the intent to improve society, and thoughtful research often lays the foundation for tackling society’s biggest challenges,” he says. “There are so many problems out there that have resisted solution, and we at Plexus believe that it's because many conventional approaches overlook the inherent complexity that drives the stubborn behavior of these problems. The idea is that a complex problem requires a complex solution.”

Efforts are underway to establish a research project to better understand and control the complex nature of cancerous tumors. Dr. Rampulla adds, “The scientific and medical communities have made great strides in treating some cancers, but so much of what we are learning shows it behaves very much like a complex system, and with something this adaptive, an approach that turns its own complexity against it may result in a more generally applicable and effective way to treat cancer.”

To learn more about the Complexity Research Initiative, visit here.

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