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 senior 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