CV Alex Penn



Brief Summary of Experience and Expertise: 

I am a strong interdisciplinarian with expertise across the social and natural sciences. With a background in complexity science, adaptive systems and evolutionary ecology, my skillset combines mathematical analysis, computer modelling and participatory modelling and processes, complimentary to innovative practical applications in real world complex systems. I have experience in stakeholder engagement across a variety of scenarios and a proven ability to connect understanding of issues on the ground with innovative blue skies thinking. As a team member, manager and initiator in academic, collaborative whole-systems design and participatory contexts I am adept at using a variety of facilitation and working methods. I am interested in working with stakeholders to produce participatory models and to produce and improve methodologies for applying complexity science in meaningful and useful ways. The combination of new ideas and practical applications in real world scenarios is what I consider to be the most exciting place to work and I have the skills required to navigate this challenging, interdisciplinary and rapidly changing area. 


Education and Qualifications: 

2001-06 DPhil Life Sciences: University of Sussex, Ecosystem Selection: simulation, theory and experiment BBSRC CASE studentship, BTExact Future Technologies Group 

1999-01 MSc Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems: University of Sussex. EPSRC Scholarship 

1995-99 MPhys Physics, first class honours. University of Kent at Canterbury and Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble 



Recent Relevant Publications: 


     Penn, A.S, Jones, C. et al (Forthcoming) Understanding Complexity in the Rural System in England Analysis and Insights from the FF&C Systems Mapping Project, CECAN & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UK Government Internal Report

      Bickett, M, Hills, D, Penn, A. and Wilkinson, H. (Forthcoming) Magenta Book Annex on Complexity and Evaluation Official H.M Treasury Guidance for Policy Evaluation

     Fellermann, H., Penn, A. S., Füchslin, R. M., Bacardit, J., & Goñi-Moreno, A. (2019). Towards low-carbon conferencing: acceptance of virtual conferencing solutions and other sustainability measures in the ALIFE community. In The 2018 Conference on Artificial Life: A Hybrid of the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) and the International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE) (pp. 21-27). MIT Press

     Guttenberg, N., Virgo, N. & Penn, A. (2019) On the potential for open-endedness in neural networks, Artificial life25(2), pp.145-167

     Penn, A.S. (2018) Moving from Overwhelming to Actionable Complexity in Population Health Policy: Can ALife help? Artificial Life (Editorial) 24(3), 218-219

     Barbrook-Johnson, P., Penn, A. (2018) A participatory systems map of the Energy Trilemma. A CECAN report for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – CECAN report. Online at

     Skeldon, A. C., Schiller, F., Yang, A., Balke-Visser, T., Penn, A., & Gilbert, N. (2018) Agent-based modelling to predict policy outcomes: A food waste recycling example. . Environmental science & policy87, 85-91

     Penn, A.S (2018) Report on the ISAL Special Session on ALife and Society, ALife XV, Cancún, Mexico, 2016. Artificial Life 24(1), 80-84

     A New Home for a Vital Conversation: Introducing the ALife Societal Impact Section and Going 

Back to Bio-inspiration for the Internet. (2017) Penn, A.S, Artificial Life, (Editorial for Societal Impact of Artificial Life Section) Artificial Life 23(4), 550-551  

     Novel Approaches to Manipulating Bacterial Pathogen Biofilms: Whole-Systems Design Philosophy and Steering Microbial Evolution. (2016) Penn, A. S.  In Biophysics of Infection (pp. 347-360). Springer International Publishing.  

     A web-based tool for identifying strategic intervention points in complex systems. (2016) Moschoyiannis, S., Elia, N., Penn, A.S.  Lloyd, D. & Knight, C. EPTCSIn: Cassting Workshop at ETAPS 2016, 2016-04-02 – 2016-04-03, Eindhoven  

     Extending Participatory Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping with a Control Nodes Methodology: a case study of the development of a bio-based economy in the Humber region, UK (2016) A.S Penn, C.J.K. Knight, G. Chalkias, A.P.M. Velenturf, D.J.B. Lloyd In Including Stakeholders in

Environmental Modeling: Considerations, Methods and Applications, Edited by S Gray, S Gray, R Jordan, M Pallisimio   

     Comparing the effects of mutualism and competition on industrial districts (2014) C.J.K. Knight, A.S. Penn, R.B. Hoyle Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications 416:541–557. 

     Analyzing networks in industrial ecology: a review of Social-Material Network Analyses (2014) F.Schiller, A.S. Penn, L. Basson Journal of Cleaner Production  

     Exploring Space, Exploiting Opportunities: The Case for Analyzing Space in Industrial Ecology (2014) F.Schiller, A.S. Penn, A. Druckman, L. Basson, K. Royston Journal of Industrial Ecology  

     Sketching a network portrait of the Humber region (2014) A.S. Penn, P.D. Jensen, A. Woodward, L. Basson, F. Schiller, A. Druckman Complexity Linear and sigmoidal fuzzy cognitive maps: An analysis of fixed points (2014) C.J.K. Knight, D.J.B. Lloyd, A.S. Penn Applied Soft Computing; 15:193–202 

     Participatory development and analysis of a fuzzy cognitive map of the establishment of a biobased economy in the Humber region (2013) A.S. Penn, C.J.K. Knight, D.J.B. Lloyd, D. Avitabile, K. Kok, F. Schiller, A. Woodward, A. Druckman, L. Basson PLoS ONE 8(11):e78319