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The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent research and education center founded in 1984, for multidisciplinary collaborations in the physical, biological, computational, and social sciences. Understanding of complex adaptive systems is critical to addressing key environmental, technological, biological, economic, and political challenges.

Renowned scientists and researchers come to Santa Fe Institute from universities, government agencies, research institutes, and private industry to collaborate in attempts to uncover the mechanisms that underlie the deep simplicity present in our complex world.


Since its inception in 1984, the Santa Fe Institute has devoted itself to fostering a multidisciplinary scientific research community pursuing frontier science and continues to be internationally recognized as playing a seminal role in the most challenging, exciting, and profound questions facing science and society today.


George Cowan, at the time a Senior Fellow at Los Alamos Laboratory, used to get together with other Senior Fellows for lunch every now and then. During these lunches, the idea of starting an institution where scientist could pursue problem-driven science (versus the usual imperatives of paradigm- or funding-driven science) directed at the "hard" problems was hatched. SFI was formally founded in 1984 by George Cowan.


Current research programs include Physics of Complex Systems, Emergence, Innovation and Robustness in Evolutionary Systems, Information Processing & Computation in Complex Systems, Dynamics & Quantitative Studies of Human Behavior, and Emergence, Organization & Dynamics of Living Systems.

Current Education & Outreach Programs include student and international fellowships, high school and undergraduate internships, Complex Systems Summer Schools in Santa Fe, NM and Beijing, China, Adventures in Modeling, Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), BioCAS, StarLogo TNG, science education curriculum, and a variety of informal outreach activities.


SFI tends to pursue basic research on important questions. As such, we often find that research results are either directly or indirectly applicable to real-world problems. For example, SFI research has been used to design new HIV therapies, influence sustainable agricultural policies in Indonesia, and influence business policy in the age of information. SFI is receives frequent attention in the media and a number of similar institutes and research centers have been founded in the past few years.


Dr. Geoffrey B. West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications. Prior to joining the Santa Fe Institute as a Distinguished Professor in 2003, he was the leader, and founder, of the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he is one of only approximately ten Senior Fellows.

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, he was one of their Centenary Speakers in 2003. He has been a lecturer in many distinguished scientist series, including being the Ulam Lecturer in 2001 and a national distinguished lecturer in 2003-4. Among other recent honors he was a co-receiver of the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America. He is the author of several books and an editor of Comments in Theoretical Biology. He was recently a visiting Professor and Fellow at Imperial College, London, and at Oxford University. In addition to being a Senior Fellow at Los Alamos, he is a Research Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico.

West received his BA from Cambridge University in 1961 and his doctorate from Stanford University in 1966, where he returned in 1970 to become a member of the faculty. He was named SFI President in July, 2005. West is married to Jacqueline West, a psychologist in private practice; they have two children: Joshua, a geologist at Oxford University and an Olympic rower, and Devorah, an undergraduate at Brown University majoring in Sociology.


SFI's trustees are drawn from leaders in business and finance, the academic world, and the public sector. Please see the complete listing at


Argentina, China, United States


New Mexico


SANTAFE, NM 87501-8943
Phone: (505) 984-8800
EIN: 85-0325494

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President's Circle

SFI President's Circle

This forward-thinking group of donors understands the importance of theoretical research and is committed to maintaining SFI’s position as the international leader in multidisciplinary research.