After a first degree in Physics, Alex Penn changed her field of study to Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems and Complexity Science at the University of Sussex, looking at the evolution of communities, origins of co-operation and the interaction of self-organisation and evolution. She has a long standing interest and involvement in sustainability issues and in what contributions novel scientific approaches can make. As well as basic science she works on applying new evolutionary theory and complexity science to solving practical problems such as the regeneration of soil ecosystems in degraded land. She promotes the integration of sustainability, complexity science and societal concerns through interdisciplinary academic conferences and workshops.
Outside her academic work she has been teaching and practising permaculture for many years. Permaculture is a systems-level approach to design of sustainable communities, organisations and agricultural systems, based on applying principles from evolutionary and ecological dynamics in order to design low-maintenance, robust and resilient organisations. Community participation and the combination of ecological, economic and social sustainability are key to this approach.
She has a PhD in Life Sciences from the University of Sussex, has held a Fellowship at the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study and is currently a Life Sciences Interface research fellow in the Science and Engineering of Natural Systems group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.
Sunday 2 November 2008, 5.45pm Lecture Theatre 1
Nuclear fusion and the future of energy
"The Battle of Ideas provides a valuable and positive resource at a time when intelligent debate, public speaking and challenge seem to be diminishing in public life."
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