Growth, Innovation, and the Accelerating Pace of Life from Cells to Cities and Corporations: Are They Sustainable?
Geoffrey West, Distinguished Professor, Santa Fe Institute
Geoffrey West is Distinguished Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and an Associate
Fellow of the Said Business School, Oxford University. Prior to joining SFI in 2003, he was leader of high energy physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he remains a Senior Fellow. He received his B.A. from Cambridge University in 1961 and his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford
University in 1966. After spells at Cornell and Harvard Universities, he returned to Stanford in 1970 to join the
faculty. He was President of SFI from 2005–2009.
West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics and biology, ranging from the elementary particles, their interactions and
cosmological implications to the origins of universal scaling laws and a unifying quantitative framework of biology. His
research in biology has included metabolic rate, growth, aging and mortality, sleep, cancer, and ecosystem dynamics.
His recent work has focused on developing
an underlying quantitative theory for the structure and dynamics of cities, companies and long-term sustainability,
including rates of growth and innovation, the accelerating pace of life, and why companies die, yet cities survive.
He has given many colloquia, keynote addresses and public lectures world-wide. Awards include the Mercer
Prize from the Ecological Society of America, the Weldon Prize for Mathematical Biology, and the Glenn Award for Aging research. He has been featured in many publications
world-wide including The New York Times, Nature, Science, The Financial Times, Time, Newsweek and Scientific American
and has participated in television productions including Nova, National Geographic and the BBC. His work was
selected as a breakthrough idea of 2007 by Harvard Business Review and, in 2006, he was named to Time magazine’s list of “100 Most Influential People in the World”.
New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Fe differ historically, geographically, and culturally, but are there qualities that are universal to cities across the globe? Theoretical physicist Geoffrey West displays some statistics that may surprise you.