Program in Nonlinear Systems 2
Cornell University - Endowed
The Cornell University IGERT Program in Nonlinear Systems supports graduate education and research in the area of complex nonlinear systems. The research component of the program will be organized around interdisciplinary groups (IRTG) comprising faculty with expertise in theoretical, computational and empirical science, who will jointly mentor graduate student fellow… more »
The Cornell University IGERT Program in Nonlinear Systems supports graduate education and research in the area of complex nonlinear systems. The research component of the program will be organized around interdisciplinary groups (IRTG) comprising faculty with expertise in theoretical, computational and empirical science, who will jointly mentor graduate student fellow projects. The research areas of the initial IRTG, including areas of applications, are (i) networks (social networks, gene networks, internet, electric power grid); (ii) gene regulation (cell signaling and gene expression networks); (iii) moving machines and organisms (manual dexterity and control of locomotion); and (iv) biological pattern formation (cardiac electrophysiology).
Nonlinear science has been a role model for interdisciplinary research. Principles arising from dynamical systems theory have revealed common features in seemingly unrelated phenomena across the breadth of science and engineering. The intellectual merit of this project lies in the extension of successful strategies employed in nonlinear dynamics to confront increasingly complex systems. A primary goal of the research is to understand how systems, especially those arising in the life sciences, can be more than the sum of their parts. For example, legged locomotion and manual dexterity will be studied through a combination of mechanical devices, observation of human and animal behavior and computer models. The broader impacts of this research will be in improving the performance of robots and the treatment of physical injuries. Another theme that will be explored is how network architecture influences dynamics of a system. The concept of small world networks, developed by the founder of this IGERT Program, Steve Strogatz and his students, has already influenced research on biological, social and communication networks. Applied to the internet, the results of this research facilitate efficient web searches. In general, the program will have broad impact in developing methods to predict the dynamics of complex systems, taking full account of underlying network structures and making extensive use of experimental data.
The primary mechanism of the IGERT program is the engagement of Ph.D. students in nonlinear systems research early in their studies. The program involves students in the conceptual phases of research, and it encourages faculty to develop long term collaborations, stimulated by their joint mentorship of students in the IRTG. The most direct impact of the program is in training a new generation of scientists with broad interests and expertise. In the words of a former IGERT fellow, “graduate students who go through the IGERT program learn to speak the language of two or more fields with considerable fluency, and all students are introduced to a common mathematical foundation so that even those who do not share the language of a specific field can interact meaningfully.”
IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. In this sixth year of the program, awards are being made to institutions for programs that collectively span the areas of science and engineering supported by NSF. « less