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Liz Varga

Professor of Complex Systems (University College London (UCL)

Liz Varga is a Professor of Complex Systems. She joined University College London (UCL) in 2019 and is developing a new Institute for Infrastructure Systems providing thought leadership on innovation, resilience and efficiency in infrastructure. Infrastructure provides critical services, such as power, heating, waste management, digital services and clean water, which need continuous adaptation to meet society’s needs whilst protecting against hazards and minimising environmental harm. She uses multi-disciplinary approaches to investigate and recommend changes to infrastructure, treating infrastructure as an open and complex system of systems, with intra- and inter-dependencies, feedbacks, and non-linearities leading to uncertainties in the trajectories for innovation, resilience and efficiency.

Prof Varga focuses on research and supervises a number of doctoral and masters’ students. She is a top 6% EPSRC Peer Review College reviewer (2019), an invited speaker on infrastructure systems, resilience and future cities, invited international funding reviewer, lecturer in systems, society and sustainability for engineers, and, an international journal reviewer for: Emergence: Complexity and Organisation (2008-). She has edited special issues on integrated utility systems, and complexity, and has a chapter in the new Edward Elgar Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science. She was Director of Cranfield University’s Complex Systems Research Centre 2009-2019. In 2021, Liz was also made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Prof Varga’s skills are in creating abstractions of real-world systems, recognising emergent phenomena and co-evolutionary effects, and designing computational agent-based models to represent the dynamics of inter-connected systems to detect emergent properties. She has experience of system transitions, modelling the effects of policy, technology and innovation under different future scenarios, and analysing computational outputs. Current research includes: AGILE, on distributed energy digitalisation, OPTEMIN, on improving economic and environmental performance via waste heat recovery, and energy integration, DAFNI, on data analytics and visualisation of infrastructure systems, and CECAN, on evaluation and assessment across nexus systems. She has over 90 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, conference papers and practitioner reports. She won the Cranfield University Research Award (2014, 2016).

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