The impact of networks and collective behaviour

From the transmission of infectious diseases to the rise of the internet; the spread of social networks to the 2008 banking crisis, interactions between people and between parts of the technological systems that we use are central to many of today’s major societal issues.

The University's new Centre for Networks and Collective Behaviour will be officially opened next week at a major two-day event to address how connectivity generates complex behaviour in different areas of the natural world and human society.

Participants attending ‘Uncertainty in Interaction Networks’ next Wednesday and Thursday (12-13 June) will hear from leading international speakers, exploring the theory and application of network approaches from a range of analytical perspectives, including mathematics, life sciences, economics and finance.

Lord Robert May

Keynote speaker Professor Robert May will discuss complexity, uncertainty and fragility in financial markets

Those attending will also hear from Professor Robert May, who will deliver a keynote speech on 'Complexity, Uncertainty and Consequent Fragility in Financial Markets'. Lord May is a member of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford; his previous appointments during a long and distinguished career include President of the Royal Society and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government. His research looks at how populations are structured and respond to change, particularly with respect to infectious diseases and biodiversity. He has also focused on the structure and dynamics of ecosystems (and, more recently, related problems such as banking systems), with particular emphasis on their response to disturbance, natural or human-created.

Commenting on the launch event, Dr Jonathan Dawes from the University's Department of Mathematical Sciences said: "The aims of our upcoming event are to bring together researchers who have a range of perspectives on network dynamics, including the interconnected nature of financial markets, to see what quantitative progress could be made in understanding their structure and, more generally, how this might drive new research, both in mathematics and in economic thinking."

The vision for the Centre for Networks and Collective Behaviour is to bring together researchers from across different disciplines to collaborate where issues of network connectivity and collective behaviour between individuals arise. Members come from departments across the University, and their research encompasses fields as diverse as genetic regulation and communication infrastructure.

To find out more about 'Uncertainty in Interaction Networks' see

To register your interest in attending the event, please email Dr Tim Rogers (

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