“government…though composed of men subject to all human infirmities, becomes, by one of the finest and most subtle inventions imaginable, a composition which is in some measure exempted from all these infirmities.”

    - from Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action (1965).
Olson cover

Like Olson's most subtle invention, I am fascinated by the emergence of superorganisms from the local scale interactions of individuals. My interest ranges from the origins of multicellular life to the long-lived cultural entities known as institutions and includes the evolution of the networks on which those interactions take place. 

A superorganism (an ant colony, a human body, a corporation, a city, etc.) is composed of lower level individuals (ants, cells, people) that come and go, even though the superorganism maintains a distinct identity with continuity transcending that of the individuals of which it is composed. 

A failure to appreciate these entities as superorganisms can create obstacles to social, economic, and environmental security at local to global scales.  These obstacles include incomplete understanding of ecosystems services, maladaptive cultural norms, a lack of centralized global-level governance, and a poor understanding of what promotes collective action.

My agenda is currently composed of five main themes that rely primarily on techniques of evolutionary computation, network analysis, and analysis of massive data sets, and that contribute to understanding and resolving social dilemmas.