Systems Thinking

The Systems Thinking Special Interest Group (ST-SIG) is for Systems/OR practitioners who are using, or want to learn about, systems theories, methodologies and methods to prevent or address highly complex organizational, social and environmental problems.

We have an inclusive understanding of systems thinking, and value contributions from all the theoretical and methodological traditions using that term. We also welcome insights from the closely-related fields of cybernetics, systems science and complexity.

The SIG has a broad aim of fostering interest in, and increasing knowledge of, systems thinking. We provide a forum for practitioners to share their experiences and learn from one another, and also to support academics in their applied research and teaching. We are particularly keen to enable collaborations between practitioners and academics, in the belief that significant, synergistic innovations can arise from open-minded learning between people working in different contexts.

We aim to host quarterly sessions with guest speakers, and the production of a newsletter is under discussion. We will also continue to host the Systems Thinking stream at the annual conference of the OR Society. For several years, this has been the largest stream at the conference, with 60+ paper presentations and thriving dialogue and debate. We will make sure these annual get-togethers continue.

As this is a new SIG, we are still developing what we want to offer the Systems/OR community, and we welcome ideas for things that you yourself would like to organize (preferably online, as the membership is geographically dispersed). Feel free to contact our Chair, Matt Lloyd [email protected] with proposals.

Please join us and contribute to the growing community of systems thinkers who are building the necessary capabilities to make our organizations, communities and ecosystems better places to live for current and future generations.

Join us for our next event

How to Reveal Neuroblastoma’s Emergent Properties at Different Biological Scales

Date: 10 April 2024, 14.00 - 15.30
Venue: Derwent SR1-1A, University of Hull and online

register here

Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial solid tumour in children; around half of all cases are high-risk and may relapse despite intensive multimodal treatment, whereupon the five-year survival rate drops below 10 %. Like all malignant tumours, a neuroblastoma tumour is a complex system characterised by emergent properties such as non-linearity, self-organisation, adaptation, and hysteresis. In this talk, I will explore these properties at multiple scales, including the whole tumour, patches of it (tissue scale), and a single neuroblastoma cell. You will learn when to use differential equations and when to use agent-based models. Generally, models of complex systems are not analytically tractable. Numerical and machine learning methods allow a systems theorist to derive biological insights from the models. I will introduce you to several methods, including evolutionary computation and dimensionality reduction. Finally, within the context of neuroblastoma, I will discuss a few nuances of chemotherapy and aspects of the relationship between MYCN (oncogene) and p53 (tumour suppressor gene).

About the Speaker

Dr Kenneth Y. Wertheim, who is also known as 11250205, is an aracial, acultural, and agender global citizen. They are a lecturer at the Centre of Excellence for Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Modelling at the University of Hull, as well as the department’s equality, diversity, and inclusion champion. The systems theorist draws on methods from mathematical modelling, scientific computing, machine learning, chemical engineering, and systems biology in their research. Their current focus is on neuroblastoma. They received an undergraduate MEng from Imperial College London, an MS from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a PhD from the University of Southampton. Their academic drifting has taken them to Argentina, Australia, Hong Kong, and Nebraska too.

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Committee Details


Matt Lloyd Chair
Gemma Smith Secretary
Christian Heathcote-Elliott Committee Member
Gerald Midgley Committee Member
Sadaf Salavati Committee Member
Kerry Turner Committee Member

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