We take a synthetic approach to questions in science and engineering. This involves the use of field observations (e.g. in Namibia, India, USA), physical and biological experiments (e.g. in our lab, at the Concord Field Station, in museums),  computational experiments (e.g. deterministic and stochastic simulations), and minimal theories (particularly qualitative methods, e.g. scaling, asymptotics, geometry and topology). The main challenge is always to ask a soluble question that simultaneously illuminates the specific problem and hints at the general principle. In this quest, we have been fortunate to be able to collaborate widely with researchers around the world.

There are two motivations for our work (see this short essay aimed at undergraduates for a little more):

  1. To explain the world as it is, driven by a curiosity about natural phenomena that are easy to perceive, and often of far more relevance than the immediate instances at hand.
  2. To imagine a world that never was, by creating quantitative approaches for the description and control of both (artificially) engineered and (biologically) evolved systems.