Decoding Dream Teams: The Signatures of Collaborative Success in Science and Beyond

DeChurch_Frontiers in ScienceA talk by Professor Leslie DeChurch of the Georgia Tech School of Psychology.

Teams have always spurred important feats of mankind. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin placed the American flag on the moon, but the event was the culmination of years of innovative work by innumerable teams of scientists and engineers. Similar stories abound, heralding the triumphs of human collaboration in settings as varied as disaster response, healthcare delivery, and the creative arts. Equally poignant are the stories of team failure: a team of competent individuals who failed to gel – their conflicts and inability to collaborate setting the stage for disaster. The failure of intelligence teams in the FBI and CIA to anticipate the terrorist attacks of 9-11 or the failure of healthcare teams to stanch the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This talk will report on the latest efforts to decode the structural signatures of teams to decipher the key insights that explain how – and how well – individuals organize in teams and systems of teams.

Leslie DeChurch’s research is being used to improve teams engaged with scientific innovation, military-civil cooperation, humanitarian aid & disaster response, health care, and space exploration. Her research on complex forms of collaboration has been supported by more than $8 Million in extramural funding from NSF, NASA, NIH, ARI, ARO, & ANR (France) including an NSF CAREER award to understand leadership in multiteam systems. She serves on multiple editorial boards, recently served on a National Academy of Science consensus study, and serves on the board of the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research (INGRoup).

Physics, information, and Computation

Dembo_8x11A talk by Professor Amir Dembo of Stanford University.

Theoretical models of disordered materials yield precise predictions about the efficiency of communication codes and the typical complexity of certain combinatorial optimization problems. The underlying common structure is that of many discrete variables, whose interaction is represented by a random ‘tree like’ sparse graph.
We review recent progress in proving such predictions and the related algorithmic insights gained from it.

This talk is based on joint works with Andrea Montanari, Allan Sly and Nike Sun.

Amir Dembo is the Marjorie Mhoon Fair Professor of Quantitative Science (in Mathematics and Statistics) at Stanford University. He received the B.Sc and D.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa in 1980, 1986 respectively. Dr. Dembo held visiting positions at U. Paris 7, U. Paris 6, Technion, Courant Institute, MSRI, Weizmann Institute and most recently at U. Paris 9. Dr. Dembo advised 15 Ph.D. students and co-authored more than 100 technical publications, including the book, “Large Deviations Techniques and Applications”, (Second Edition, Springer-Verlag, 1998, with O. Zeitouni). He is a fellow of the IMS, was a special invited IMS medallion lecturer (2005), an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians (2006) and the invited Levy lecturer of the Bernouli society(2009). Dr. Dembo worked in a number of areas including information theory, signal processing and bio-molecular sequence analysis. His current research interests are in probability theory and its relations with statistical physics.



Corals as Expert Witnesses to Climate Change

CobbThe public’s hunger for information about climate change has never been greater, yet the politicization of climate change has made it difficult to separate truth from fiction. 2015 is poised to become the warmest year on record, but it is important to remember that the instrumental record of climate is relatively short, spanning only a few decades in many regions. Over repeated visits to remote coral atolls in the tropical Pacific, Kim Cobb has assembled a record of climate from corals that spans many millennia. The results help to place current climate change trends in context.

Can One Believe in Evolution and God?


Francisco J. Ayala is the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He has been President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ayala’s scientific research focuses on population and evolutionary genetics. He examines related areas that include the origin of species, the genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa and the molecular clock of evolution. He frequently writes and speaks about the interface between religion and science and on ethics, epistemology, education and the philosophy of biology.

Born in Madrid, Spain, he has lived in the United States since 1961, and became a U.S. citizen in 1971. He is author of more than 950 publications and 30 books. In 2001 he was awarded the National Medal of Science and in 2010 he was awarded the Templeton Prize. His memberships include the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In addition, his foreign memberships include the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome; the Royal Academy of Sciences, Spain; the Mexican Academy of Sciences; and the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

* Light refreshments will be served. Parking available in the Student Center Visitor Lot.