Team Up Against COVID-19

Meet new collaborators and learn Complexity Science by doing.

    • Help to address the unprecedented, interconnected problems created and exposed by this pandemic. Complexity Science is an interdisciplinary and inclusive framework for studying, designing, and controlling Complex systems. Over the course of one weekend, you will learn about Complexity Science from a variety of perspectives while developing solutions in a team setting to address:

      • Unemployment
      • Shelter in Place Policy
      • Testing
      • PPE
      • Supply Chains
      • Vaccine Research
      • Ventilator Shortage
      • Mental Health
      • Many other ongoing problems

    • Here’s what to expect during this weekend experience:

      • This event will feature Complexity Science-inspired lectures, discussions, and workshops on Friday night and Saturday day. All attendees will then engage in a collective brainstorming and team formation process Saturday afternoon, followed by a facilitated hackathon experience with these teams on Sunday.


In-line with social-distancing policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, this weekend event will be entirely virtual

Date & Time

  • Friday, May 22 - Sunday, May 24

  • Please plan to participate in the full weekend experience.


Gain exposure to an interdisciplinary perspective on Complexity Science and its application


Work on important problems in small groups, with guidance from experienced mentors and domain experts


Meet potential mentors, coauthors, and cofounders at this unique event, where everyone is open to learning by doing

Keynote Speaker

Carlos Gershenson, PhD

professor of computer science at Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico

Carlos leads the Self-organizing Systems Lab. He has been an active researcher since 1997 and has 150 scientific publications in books, journals, and conference proceedings, which have been cited more than 4,500 times. He has given more than 250 presentations at conferences and research group seminars. He has a wide variety of academic interests, including complex systems, self-organization, urbanism, artificial life, evolution, cognition, artificial societies, and philosophy. Carlos is also Editor-in-Chief of Complexity Digest, Associate Editor for the journals Complexity and Frontiers in Robotics and AI, and member of the Board of Advisors for Scientific American.

Check out Complexity Explained by Prof. Gershenson and collaborators.

What is Complexity?

"Complexity" refers to a large set of interrelated phenomena that have been observed across many academic disciplines, such as physics, biology, sociology, economics, and chemistry.

Aristotle described complex system behavior as when “the whole is more than the sum of the parts.” Such systems contain patterns of nonlinear relationships between their component parts under certain external conditions, causing an unpredictable new phase of system behavior as a whole. The main goal of Complex Systems Theory is to understand the relationship between these patterns of interaction and the properties of the system at higher scales.

Learn More on Wikipedia 

Who Should Attend?

This virtual weekend hackathon is for you if you are:

A Team Player

Are you eager to join a team to come up with a unique insight into COVID-19 problems in one or multiple domains, such as: research, economics, medicine, policy, mental health, etc?


Can you commit to participating all weekend? Teams will be working over the weekend to accomplish a goal together, so out of fairness, we need to be sure everyone who registers can make this commitment.

Ready For Action

Are you prepared to help others in this time of crisis by applying yourself to problems with potential for immediate impact?

All backgrounds welcome - your perspective is needed! No direct experience in Complexity Science required.

Weekend Schedule

Attendees will be working in teams over the weekend to accomplish a goal together. We need to make sure everyone who registers can make these time commitments.

Friday, May 22

5:00 pm - 9:00 pm PST

Speakers and Community Events

Get to know the other participants and facilitators, learn about Complexity Science, and co-create Shared Truth with others

Saturday, May 23

9:00 am - 5:00 pm PST

Learn Complexity Science By Doing In Teams

Join a team, choose a Complex problem, and get to work

SUNDAY, May 24

9:00 am - 4:00 pm PST

Present Team Solutions and Next Steps

Share your team's hard work, make an impact, and stay connected

Join us May 22-24, 2020

Solve Problems Related to COVID-19 and Beyond

Registration is Now Closed.


Facilitators will move between teams during the conference, supplying Complexity Science references, impactful connections, problem-solving frameworks, tooling, and relevant data sets. Their mission is to guide the "how" to enable each team to reach their highest potential and accomplish their initial goals, whether that be a research proposal, a business plan, or another outcome.

Michael Zargham, PhD

Founder and CEO at BlockScience; Visiting Researcher at WU Vienna (Cryptoeconomics Institute) 

Python • Systems Engineering • Economics • Governance • Blockchain • Data Science

Zargham is the founder and CEO of BlockScience, an engineering, research, and analytics firm focused on design and analysis of complex networks. Dr. Zargham holds a PhD in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied optimization and control of decentralized networks. He is currently affiliated with the WU Vienna's Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Cryptoeconomics.

Ariadna Venegas-Li

PhD Candidate at UC Davis (Complexity Sciences Center)

Physics • Information Theory • Discrete Stochastic Processes • Quantum Information

Ariadna is pursuing a PhD in physics. Her research is focused on advancing the understanding of quantum stochastic processes by adapting tools from dynamical systems and information theory to characterize them. She is generally interested in applying these and other quantitative tools to systems with many interacting agents.

Jared Thompson, PhD

Senior Machine Learning Engineer at ATOMWISE

Python • R • Computational/Theoretical Chemistry • Control Theory • Information Theory • Deep Learning 

Jared is a “full-stack data scientist” interested in control theory and optimization, information theory, and intelligent (AI) systems of all sorts. His background is in computational and theoretical biophysics. He is currently working with the wonderful team at Atomwise, where he works on deep learning model development. This work aims to predict biological activity of a drug molecule from its X-ray crystal structure.

Sudebi Thakurata

Faculty Member at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology; Co-founder at Depicentre Consulting

Research • Complex Systems Thinking • Design-led Innovation • Regenerative Leadership • Futurism

Sudebi is a meta-facilitator, futurist, educator and a designer of learning, narratives and regenerative leadership.  She designs experiences, engagement and environment that allow people to design their own solutions and narratives using different modes and media. A Creative Facilitator of SEAΔ, a trans-national cross-cultural leadership program, Sudebi has co-founded a design collective, Depicentre, and started a unique pedagogy, art and design-led trans-local initiative, “The Archival City- a site of learning”.

Justine Schott

Data analytics manager at Education Super highway; Data AMbassador at Datakind SF

Python • Education • Technology • Data Analysis • Business Insights • Modeling

In the past six years at EducationSuperHighway, Justine improved data transparency at the FCC by using school broadband data to create new, insightful metrics that had been otherwise impossible to calculate. As a data manager, she blends the stories told by the data with the organization’s expertise to create insights that power change. At DataKind SF, Justine manages a team of 5 data volunteers.

Diamantis Sellis, PhD

Complex System Modeler at CosmoTech

Complex Systems Modeling • Population Genomics • Bioinformatics

Diamantis Sellis is complex systems modeler at CosmoTech. He has more than 10 years of research experience in bioinformatics, genome complexity and population genetics. He has studied biology and holds an MS in Bioinformatics from Athens University, Greece, and a PhD in evolutionary biology from Stanford University, US.

Rose Sagun

The Asia Foundation; Co-chair, Harvard Alumni for Education; Instructor, General Assembly

Global Education Policy • Learning Innovations

Rose works in the international development space, particularly in education and learning across socio-cultural and political contexts. She is currently helping to develop initiatives across 15 countries in Asia.

Alexandra (Sasha) Mikhailova

PhD Candidate at UC Davis (Neuroscience Program)

Neuroscience • Microscopy • Education • Collaborative Drawing 

Alexandra has a background in translational neuroscience studying brain injury in early development. She is now pursuing a PhD examining how immune molecules regulate the proper establishment of connections in the brain. Her research is inherently interdisciplinary, and she hopes to bridge even more fields through Free Energy thinking and collaborative drawing.

Prahlad Menon, PhD

adjunct professor of bioengineering at university of pittsburgh; CEO and chief data scientist at QUANTMD

R • Biostatistics • Disease Modeling • Biomedical Imaging • Computational Fluid Dynamics

Dr. Menon's research is focused on artificial intelligence and data science applied to modeling imaging and time-series data in a variety of areas. He runs the MeDCaVE Lab, which is focused on robust algorithmic analysis of biomedical imaging data augmented with quantitative, physics‐based modeling of cardiovascular mechanics & hemodynamics. He has authored over 75 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts, and has served as a research adviser to dozens of undergraduate and graduate student researchers.

Glenn Magerman, PhD

assistant professor of economics at ECARES; Team Lead at learning from the curve

Economics • Statistics • Networks • Data Science

Glenn is an assistant professor of Economics (tenured) at ECARES, ULB. His research agenda focuses on social and economic networks, firm-to-firm relationships, and pricing mechanisms. He is also the founder of Magma, a firm providing data science solutions and strategic consulting to various industries.

Marek Laskowski, PhD

Senior Research Scientist at Block Science; Cofounder at Blockchain Lab at York University

Agent-based Modeling • Epidemiological Modeling • Simulation

Marek Laskowski earned his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering at the University of Manitoba in 2011 where he developed novel multi-agent simulation frameworks for modeling complex healthcare systems. His work in this field has been cited by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Since then, Marek co-founded the Blockchain Lab at the Schulich School of Business (at York University).

Jason Larkin, PhD

research scientist at cmu's Emerging Technology Center; Cofounder at PhD Mentors

Python • Multi-scale Modeling • Research and Publishing Process • Researcher Mental Health

Jason’s background is in multi-scale modeling, in particular the combination of quantum-scale Density Functional Theory with Molecular Dynamics simulations. He seeks to understand general principles behind emergent behavior in complex systems, and has recently focused his attention on understanding the immediate impact of quantum computing systems.

V. Bleu Knight

Senior Data Scientist at SavantX

Python • PCR • Neuroscience • Bioinformatics • Optimization • Data Science

Bleu works with a talented team at SavantX that implements augmented intelligence and quantum computing to solve energy reduction problems at scale. Their current focus is global shipping and the industrial supply chain. Her PhD research leveraged RNA sequencing and bioinformatics to explore biological identity, focusing on neural cell types.

Monica Kang

Founder & CEO at InnovatorsBox

Entrepreneurship • Creativity & Innovation • Mental Health • Diversity • Education

Monica Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox®, is an educator at heart, transforming workplaces and communities with the power of creativity. Using innovative services and products, she works with industries worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica is the author of 'ReThink Creativity', has organized for Startup Weekend over the past 5 years, and previously worked in nuclear nonproliferation. 

Jenn Huff, PhD

Self-employed Science Writer; Curatorial Associate at Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Human Evolution • Human-Environment Interaction • Technology Change • Cooperation

Dr. Jenn Huff is an archaeologist with an interest in deep time questions about human evolution, human migrations into new landscapes, exchange networks, technology change, and human-environment interactions. She is currently working on a book that looks at human evolution and recent cultural perspectives to explore how humans cooperate.

Stéphanie Heckman

Creative Professional; Visual Facilitator; Singer-Songwriter

Psychology • Theories of Change • Sustainable Development

Stéphanie approaches the field of complexity from a social science angle, through her background in systems change, sustainable development, and human process design. With a MSc. in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, she works as visual facilitator supporting collective thought processes at conferences and meetings by translating them into sweeping illustrated ‘shared mental landscapes’.

Will Hamilton, PhD

Assistant Professor of Computer Science at McGill University

Python • Machine Learning • Network Analysis • Natural Language Processing

Will Hamilton is an Assistant Professor at McGill University and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair. His research focuses on the development of machine learning models for network-structured data. His work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Wired, The New York Times, and The BBC.

Sean Griffin

Chief Executive Officer at Disaster Tech

Decision Science • Incident Management • Data Science • HPC

Sean is the CEO of Disaster Tech, a public benefit company applying data science for decision making before, during, and after disasters. Sean has served as Director for Incident Management Integration Policy on the White House National Security Council and is an U.S. Navy veteran.

Richard J. Cordés

Agency Point-of-Contact at COGSEC; Partner at Remoter Consulting Group

Open-source Intelligence • Systems Warfare • Distributed Teams

R.J. spends his time infusing complexity science into military and intelligence research to generate best practice for remote teams, civilian or otherwise. He is a serial contributor within the Defense Community, working with complexity-oriented organizations on DARPA grants, research, and inter-agency collaborations. He currently represents Remotor and COGSEC in the information warfare subdivision of a working group on expeditionary warfare in addition to sitting on several other committees and working groups in the IEEE, Department of Defense, and Private Sector.

Probal Banerjee

Co-founder & CEO at Depicentre Consulting

Design-led Innovation • Transformative and Emergent Leadership • Executive Coaching • Entrepreneurship

Probal is the co-founder and CEO of the design-led collective, Depicentre Consulting. He works on the interfaces of business, learning, design, analytics, innovation and storytelling. With leadership experience across seven countries strengthening his ability to manage cross-cultural & cross-functional virtual teams in complex matrix organisations, he has a passion for driving content & culture driven organisations making economic, social, ecological and educational impact.

Chenling Xu Antelope

PhD candidate at UC BErkeley (Computational Biology program)

R • Computational Biology • Data Analysis • Genetics

Chenling has a background in evolutionary genetics and is now pursuing a PhD in applying both simulation and machine learning techniques to single-cell RNA sequencing data. Her current project is focused on the immunological changes in Multiple Sclerosis patients. Through her wandering across different fields of biology, she finds Bayesian statistical thinking and a free imagination to be the common language of discoveries in complex biological systems.


What will I get out of participating?

Network with the Complexity Science community and come away with a healthy exposure to the depth and breadth of the Complexity field from a variety of perspectives. Meet new collaborators, co-authors, mentors, and friends while learning through a hands-on team hackathon experience. Work toward solutions to the complex problems introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is this conference for?

This conference is intended for those who are interested in Complexity Science and are eager to have an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the prerequisites for attending?

    • A healthy curiosity and willingness to work outside of your usual expertise and comfort, and a willingness to share your expertise with others. All sections will be held in English. 

Should I do anything to prepare for the conference?

Don't worry about being unprepared, as no one is an expert in all the various fields intersecting with Complexity Science. If you want to consume anything beforehand, perhaps the "Intro to Complexity" course materials from SFI's Complexity Explorer would be best. We'll have facilitators on hand to help with whatever blocks your team as you work toward a solution to your chosen problem.

Should I come with a problem in mind that I'd like to work on already?

Feel free to come prepared with a COVID-19 problem you’d like to gather a team around to solve, or let the creativity flow as you interact with the diverse set of Complexity Thinkers during the event. The choice is up to you.

Who will own whatever is created at the conference?

Attendees own their work. Solution proposals generated during the event will have explicit co-ownership defined by the teams, and are private by default. Attendees will be given the opportunity to opt-in to having their proposals summarized into a one-pager emailed to all attendees after the event and posted on the Complexity Weekend website. Teams are encouraged, but not required, to present their results at the end of the hackathon. Any degree of open-sourcing is celebrated, but not required.

How can I become a facilitator?

We are currently seeking facilitators for Complexity Weekend 2021. Please contact [email protected] if you are interested.

How can I sponsor annual Complexity Weekend events?

We welcome sponsors for our annual conference. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

Who are the conference organizers?

Shaun Applegate-Swanson
Principal Data Scientist at CloudKnox Security
Cofounder at PhD Mentors

John Paul Gonzales
Complexity Educator & Community Organizer

Rose Sagun
Co-Chair at Harvard Alumni for Education
Learning Development Manager at The Asia Foundation

Jason Larkin, PhD
Research Scientist at Emerging Technology Center, CMU
Cofounder at PhD Mentors

Jared Thompson, PhD
Senior Machine Learning Engineer at Atomwise

Daniel Ari Friedman, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Davis
Previously organized the Stanford Complexity Group

Steven Davis, MBA
Founder at Wicked Innovation Lab
Steering Committee Member at Bay Area Agile Leadership Network

Mark Cicoria
Cofounder at PhD Mentors

Michael Zargham, PhD
Founder at BlockScience
Visiting Scientist at Vienna University of Economics

Marie Applegate-Swanson
Founder and Experience Designer, Creative Compassion Initiative
Experience Designer and Creative Lead, Asian Art Museum

Complexity Weekend

Virtual COVID-19 Hackathon - May 22-24, 2020

Registration is Now Closed.