KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Nick Monk
KLI Colloquia
Dynamical Systems and a Process Perspective on Life
Nick MONK (University of Sheffield & KLI)
2017-04-27 16:30 - 2017-04-27 16:30
Organized by KLI

Topic description:
Living systems are fundamentally dynamic, but prevailing mechanistic approaches to understanding life typically focus on their analysis into collections of essentially “static” entities. While basic molecular entities — genes, RNAs, proteins, etc. — clearly provide a vital part of the substrate for life, we also need to understand the origin, nature and inheritance of phenotype, considered as a dynamic pattern of organisation. An individual’s genotype provides only part of the information required to understand its phenotype; environmental (including maternal) conditions also contribute, as illustrated by phenotypic plasticity and polyphenism. The formalism of dynamical systems provides organisational structures that provide a way of addressing these issues. In the context of living systems, an individual’s genotype can be thought of as specifying part of a dynamical system, with additional information coming from the context in which the genotype is expressed. In this view, the genotype “codes” explicitly only for sets of potentialities. I will explore the ways in which dynamical systems provide a perspective on living systems that is more naturally processual than mechanistic, providing the means for understanding how organisation and structure can interact.


Biographical note:
After reading Natural Sciences and Mathematics as an undergraduate, Nick Monk studied for a PhD at Birkbeck College, London with Basil Hiley. At Birkbeck, he contributed to the development of a fully algebraic formalism for quantum mechanics that provides a mathematical realisation of a process-based ontology. Since obtaining his PhD, his research has focused on mathematical modelling of biological phenomena, predominantly in the context of cell and developmental biology. A central concern in this work has been the importance of dynamics in living systems, and a current focus is on the ways in which the structures of dynamical systems can be used to provide a more process-based approach to biology. He has held positions in Oxford, Nottingham and several Departments in Sheffield, and is currently a professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and a Visiting Fellow at the KLI.