SFI Professor and Vice President for Science
Jennifer Dunne is the Vice President for Science at the Santa Fe Institute, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. Dunne has degrees in philosophy, ecology and systematic biology, and energy and resources. Her research interests are in analysis, modeling and theory related to the organization, dynamics and function of ecosystems. Much of this work focuses on ecological networks, in particular food webs, which specify the complex feeding interactions among species in a given habitat. Food webs provide a way to track and quantify the flows of energy and resources in ecosystems and thus play a central role in ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Drawing on cross-system analysis and computational modeling, Dunne and her collaborators seek to identify fundamental patterns and principles of ecological network structure and dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Such research provides a powerful framework for understanding the coexistence of species and the robustness, persistence, and stability of ecosystems, including how humans fit into and impact ancient, historic, and current ecosystems around the world.
Dunne was named a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America in 2017. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, PLoS Biology, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Ecology Letters, Ecology, and Ecological Monographs. Media outlets including Scientific American, Wired, SmartPlanet, ScienceNow, and Nature News have reported on Dunne’s research.