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NIMBioS Seminar Series

In conjunction with the interdisciplinary activities of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), a seminar series on topics in mathematical biology will be hosted at NIMBioS every other Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) in the Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd. Seminar speakers will focus on their research initiatives at the interface of mathematics and many areas of the life sciences. Light refreshments will be served beginning 30 minutes before each talk. Faculty and students from across the UT community are welcome to join us.


Time/Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 3:30 p.m.*
Note Special Location: M309 Walters Life Sciences Bldg.
Speaker: Simon Levin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology, Princeton Univ.; NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor

Topic: Evolutionary perspectives on discounting, public goods and collective behavior
Abstract: Ecological and economic systems are alike in that individual agents compete for limited resources, evolve their behaviors in response to interactions with others, and form exploitative as well as cooperative interactions as a result. In these complex adaptive systems, macroscopic properties like the flow patterns of resources like nutrients and capital emerge from large numbers of microscopic interactions, and feed back to affect individual behaviors. Contagion can lead to critical transitions from one basin of attraction to another, as for example with eutrophication, desertification, pest outbreaks, and market collapses. In both sorts of systems, evolution of one type or another leads to the differentiation of roles and the emergence of system organization, but with no guarantee of robustness. It is crucial to understand how evolutionary forces have shaped individual behaviors in the face of uncertainty. In this talk, I will explore the common features of these systems, especially as they involve the evolution of intragenerational and intergenerational resource allocation and the evolution of cooperation in dealing with public goods, common pool resources and collective movement. I will describe examples from bacteria and slime molds to vertebrate groups to insurance arrangements in human societies.

*Join us for refreshments at 3 p.m.

Seminar Flyer (pdf)

Please contact Dr. Andrew Kanarek at if you are interested in meeting with Dr. Levin.

For more information about this and other NIMBioS Seminars, visit /seminars.

S. Levin.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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