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Source: “Complexity & other beasts” by Elisabeth Skjelten

I have always been fascinated by complex systems: How do they emerge? How do they evolve into many forms and functions? What are the essentials that govern the dynamics of complexity? This ambition has led me to study and specialize on far from equilibrium systems that are subject to strong stochastic dynamics, where self-assembly is regulated by multiple nonlinear feedback mechanisms.

I specifically choose these systems for three reasons:
1- Complexity emerges far from equilibrium.
2- Strong random fluctuations are indispensable far from equilibrium. Life, being the ultimate complex system, thrives with fluctuations.
3- Positive (to emerge and grow) and negative (to limit and regulate) feedback mechanisms helps control many degrees of freedom in a complex system.

Yet these mechanisms are often neglected, unemployed or unidentified in man-made systems.

To this end, I have designed “simple” far-from-equilibrium experiments that naturally give rise to feedback mechanisms, which I, then, use to demonstrate their importance, as well as show by example that these dynamics can be exploited to create solutions for technologically important problems (Research). Further, to understand and demonstrate the fundamental working principles of this triple mechanism, I specifically worked on as many different experimental platforms as possible using a diverse set of material systems. This allowed me to develop a unique methodology, to fabricate completely new material systems with superior technological functionalities, which are difficult or even impossible to achieve with conventional methodologies (Publications).