What is SSIG?

The Systems Science Interest Group is a community of scholars, researchers, and evaluators at Washington University who are interested in systems science, including network analysis, agent-based modeling, and system dynamics. The mission of the SSIG is to share ideas, provide resources for the broader community, and enhance the network of systems scientists. Sessions are held once per month during the academic year and include a mix of formal and informal presentations and discussions.

What is systems science?

Systems science is the study of complex systems. The theories and methods of systems science are applied in almost every discipline, from genetics through biology and engineering, and up to sociology, political science, and public health. In the past few years, systems science and analysis has developed rapidly as an interdisciplinary approach to exploring and solving important scientific problems.

What is network science?

Network science examines how people and organizations are related, how they communicate, and how they work together. It has been used to answer questions about information flow, social influence, researcher collaboration, and diffusion of innovation.

What is agent-based modeling?

Agent-based modeling is a method that simulates how individuals might behave in an environment with a given set of rules over time. Individuals can interact with each other and the environment, and we can observe how these interactions lead to social patterns over time, such as neighborhood segregation and disease transmission.

What is system dynamics?

System dynamics focuses on understanding system behavior from an endogenous or feedback perspective using informal maps or formal models that can be simulated on a computer. System dynamics can provide insight for policy analysis and community development, identify leverage points, and develop explicit feedback theories of dynamic phenomena.

Who can join?

We invite any interested student, staff member, instructor, or faculty member who would like to learn more about systems science and share their own discoveries. To join, email Bobbi Carothers (bcarothers@wustl.edu) and ask to be added to the group.

How is systems science being used at WUSTL?

At Washington University, there is a critical mass of investigators who use systems science in their work or studies. This includes researchers at the Brown School, School of Medicine, School of Arts & Sciences, and Institute of Public Health. More specifically, in the past several years, network methods have been used here to:

  • Map the network of childcare service providers in St. Louis
  • Study how local health departments use Twitter to disseminate information
  • Identify potential intervention sites for HIV/AIDS prevention
  • Model how interdisciplinary scientific collaborations have grown among members of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences
  • Explore how mentoring leads to future collaboration among dissemination and implementation science trainees
  • Identify predictors of collaboration among national tobacco control networks
  • Describe the structure of legal precedents in the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Identify opportunities to reduce policy mis-implementation