I am an interdisciplinary scientist who uses computational models to study complex biological systems. A prominent theme in my research is the metabolic, self-constructing organisation of all biological systems, and how this relates to their profound adaptability. This draws me toward the investigation of synthetic protocells and the origin of life, where mechanisms of behaviour are at their simplest, as well as computational models of minimally cognitive systems, where fundamental concepts of adaptive behaviour can be clearly defined, examined, and tested.
My primary methodology is the development and analysis of computational and mathematical models of complex systems.
Current and recent placements
As of October 1, 2012, I am a Research Associate at the Bio Systems Analysis Research Group at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, where I am developing and analysing models of networks of synthetic signalling protocells to investigate how they can accomplish interesting computational tasks.
I am also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, where I am part of the interdisciplinary Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems Group that is affiliated with the informatics and biology departments.
Before coming to Jena, I was a research and tutorial fellow at the University of Sussex, where I taught the MSc level course Artificial Life and the Level-2 course Acquired Intelligence and Adaptive Behaviour.
I carried out my PhD at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, where I explored the relationship between metabolism, adaptive behaviour and evolution. I used computational models of protcells, bacteria and artificial chemistries to explore what autopoietic (self-producing) systems are capable of that allopoietic systems (such as conventional robots) are not. This and later work connects with empirical work on metabolism-based chemotaxis, providing a new explanation for previously unexplained asymmetric distributions of bacteria. It also has led to our work on behavioural metabolution, a synergistic interaction between metabolism, behaviour and evolution that can scaffold or facilitate adaptive evolution through a variety of effects.