Alexandra Penn is a complexity scientist working on combining participatory methodologies and mathematical models to create tools for stakeholders to understand and “steer” their complex human ecosystems. As a research fellow at the University of Surrey she has developed participatory complexity science methodologies for decision makers to explore interdependencies between social, ecological, economic and political factors in “industrial ecosystems”; in particular, looking at the transition to bio-based economy in a region of heavy industry and fossil fuel energy generation in the Humber Estuary, UK. She is a principal member of the new “Centre for Evaluating Complexity across the Nexus” (energy-environment-food), CECAN, a collaboration between academics, policy professionals and the UK government to generate novel, cutting-edge methods for evaluating policy for complex systems.
Alex has an academic background in physics and evolutionary ecology, training at Sussex University and as a junior fellow at the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, followed by a Life Sciences Interface fellowship in the Science and Engineering of Natural Systems Group, University of Southampton. She is also a strong inter-disciplinarian, with a track record of working across disciplines, with a broad variety of stakeholders from policy makers to industrialists and with members of the public as a science communicator.
She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for her work in novel application of whole-systems design to bacterial communities and is a member of the board of directors and Chair for Societal Impact of the International Society for Artificial Life.
Alex tweets @DrAlexPenn