Katharina Brinck

Katharina Brinck

What is organising life?

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.” – Douglas R. Hofstadter

While I never considered nature particularly eerie itself, the occurrence of chaos and order in it on a vast range of scales is intriguing. I am fascinated by the diversity and order of life, the variety of coexisting levels of complexity and the principles responsible for the assembly of living organisms into ecological networks of various configurations.

My main research interests lie in the evolution of general characteristics of ecosystem structure and flow, their relation to persistence and functionality and the applicability of information theory to ecological networks to capture those emergent organisational properties. I use the Tangled Nature Model of evolutionary ecology, a complex systems model inspired by entangled ecosystem evolution, to study the evolution of ecosystems and their complexity. I am also interested in applying the Tangled Nature Model to other ecological questions and to relate information theory, thermodynamics and ecology in other contexts.

Before starting my PhD at Imperial in October 2014 under the supervision of Prof. Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen, I did my undergrad in geography, biology and mathematics at LMU and TU Munich, Germany, followed by a master’s degree in ecology at Umeå University, Sweden. I have been studying information entropy in food webs as a visiting research student in the Harte Lab, UC Berkeley, limits on natural selection in the Bokma Lab, Umeå University, and tropical forest dynamics including carbon losses from tropical forest fragmentation at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany.