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Ricard Solé
ICREA Professor and specialist in complex systems and ecological theory. Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Ricard's current research focuses in understanding the evolutionary origins of complex systems, using both mathematical models and experimental approaches based on synthetic biology. He has proposed the concept of Synthetic Major Transitions as a unifying framework to explore the origins of innovation in evolution using a parallel approach, namely our potential for building or simulating synthetic systems that can recreate past evolutionary events. This includes the origin of protocells, multicellular systems, symbiosis, cognition and language. Another research area deals with Unstable Evolutionary dynamics, namely the dynamics of biological systems (particularly RNA viruses and cancer) that exhibit a tendency towards high genetic instability as part of their adaptation potential. Moreover, he also introduced the concept of "Terraforming" endangered or human-made ecosystems to avoid catastrophic shifts. The success of this approach will require the development of a new synthesis involving multiple scales and conceptual frameworks, from synthetic biology and cellular circuits to ecological communities.