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Network Activities

Following activities are proposed in order to achieve objectives specified in the proposal. Note that the topics have been already selected for year one and these are not going to change significantly. Other topics for workshops in year 2 and 3 of the funded period will be proposed and voted on during general network meetings.

General Network Discussion Meetings (GNDM): We will hold two GNDMs in the first year and one in year two and three of the proposal. All network members will be invited and each GNDM will be organised and held at a different node. These two-day meetings will allow us to refine and evolve the initial formulation of the challenges in this field and to assess the usefulness of various approaches to the broad studies of emergence and systems far from equilibrium. In order to facilitate this, at least half a day at each GNDM will be devoted to “Synergy Acceleration” sessions, based on the Ideas Factories / Sandpits run by the EPSRC. At the first two GNDMs we will hold brainstorming exercises in which a list of challenges will be generated in raw form, then, formulated in text fragments with subsequent clustering across different disciplines. Participants will then self-organise according to skills, experience and interest to form working groups, where the challenge areas will be developed further after each GNDM. The ideas and approaches generated by this process will be presented to the pool of all attendees at the third and fourth GNDM (years 2 and 3). Instant feedback on positive aspects, potential for further development, concerns and criticism combined with an iteration of the group sessions will help to channel, focus and refine ideas, ultimately leading to a process by which the key challenges, common interests and approaches can be defined and brought out. The GNDMs will also offer an opportunity to highlight recent research successes and to identify areas for new collaborations. As well as invited and contributed talks from network members, there would be several international invited speakers. Representatives of other UK and equivalent EU/US networks will be invited to each meeting. At least 25% of the time at each meeting will be offered to our industrial partners as a forum to present their work and views on the topic and engage the academic community. The tentative list of meeting titles and locations is:

  • GNDM1: Grand challenges in the topic of emergence and system far from equilibrium (Warwick)
  • GNDM2: Unifying aspects of emergence and systems far from equilibrium (Edinburgh)
  • GNDM3: Progress report: multidisciplinary approaches to systems far from equilibrium (KCL)
  • GNDM4: Toward consensus: paths to progress in the studies of systems far from equilibrium (Bath)

Focus Workshops (FW): We will run workshops based either around generally-applicable methods or around subject areas where we perceive potential synergy. Each of these one-day events will be organised by a single node of the network, with money available for invited speakers. These workshops will be combined with longer (1-2 week) visits by international and national experts (non-members of the Network) where this is helpful to bring in knowledge from new fields. Visits of international collaborators will also coincide with workshops in order to maximise the exploitation of their expertise. We envisage three FW per year. The workshops will be advertised broadly to maximise their impact beyond the network. The exact topics of the workshops will be proposed at each GNDM, but the following titles were proposed for year one:

  • FW1: Probing non-equilibrium steady states: the theory of large-deviations (Imperial College)
  • FW2: Experimental methods for investigating real world systems far from equilibrium (Manchester)
  • FW3: Pattern formation and chaotic behaviour in active and passive driven systems (Oxford)

Collaborative research projects: We will provide a fund for longer collaboration visits between members of the network and their PG students, to enhance collaboration and to test ideas developed across the network in the context of different physical systems. These projects will be discussed at the GNDMs and FWs to broaden and optimise the collaboration base. This fund will enable us to carry out a number of “pilot projects” to explore the practical aspects of the emerged synergies. Emphasis will be on broadly collaborative and targeted projects which are relevant to real world problems put forward by industrial partners. This will ensure that research activities will lead to specific outcomes, such as full research proposals to fund more detail studies. Some fraction of this fund (to be determined after the list of requested visits is known) will be given to visit individuals that are not current members of the network.