About Us

The Santa Fe Complex draws on the creativity of scientists, technologists, and artists to solve complex problems to meet business, government, and social needs. Combining talents across disciplines, the Complex has helped the City of Santa Fe model escape routes for its citizens in the event of forest fires, the city of Venice plan canal traffic to minimize the wakes that damage the city’s architecture, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health identify the movement of troubled youths through their social services network.services network.

The mission of Complex is to create a collaborative workspace that fosters applied complexity science through interdisciplinary education, outreach, and development of innovative technologies to address real-world problems, enable social cooperation, and create economic opportunities.

The Complex is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a renowned center of research in complexity science, an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex problems. Santa Fe has also long been famous as a center for the traditional arts and is now becoming a hotbed of innovative forms of artistic expression resulting from the crossover between art and technology.

The Complex has drawn on these strengths of the Santa Fe area—in science, technology, and art—to create a collaborative workspace to:

  • Provide the leadership, scientific expertise, infrastructure, and innovative technological tools required for the practical application of complexity science.
  • Serve as the agency for organizing interdisciplinary teams to deliver project work, thereby serving as a catalyst for economic development.
  • Encourage the development of entrepreneurs, allowing them to draw on the expertise of the Complex to prototype and test their new ideas.
  • Provide a venue that encourages collaboration among artists, scientists, and technologists, allowing new ways of thinking and creating to emerge.
  • Provide the community with facilities that encourage the youth of Santa Fe to become involved in projects that span the arts and sciences.

Key Activities


The Complex is a collaborative workspace where people with diverse educational backgrounds, talents, perspectives, and ages come together to address complex problems in both business and society.

Thanks to the influence of the Santa Fe Institute, which pioneered much of the research into complex systems, Santa Fe is internationally known for its complexity science-based businesses. The Complex leverages the wealth of talent in the scientific and technological community in Santa Fe, much of it nurtured by the presence of two major national laboratories in the area.

The Complex also works with Santa Fe’s arts community, in which the growing use of computers and other intelligent electronics are blurring the distinction between traditional arts and new technology. We work with local artists to exchange ideas across this boundary, which opens the door to new and innovative ways of looking at the world.

The Complex expands the use of collaborative approaches to creativity, education, and problem solving using the most advanced scientific and computational systems available.


At the Complex, we embrace the principle of learning by doing. We involve students in active projects in a way that lets them be part of, and contribute to, the project team. Project-based learning offers a clarity of purpose and a sense of accomplishment that enhances the participants’ self-esteem. Teachers, students, and private and public sector organizations are invited to take advantage of our internships, mentoring programs, and student-implemented projects.

The Complex also offers a variety of student- and youth-based, non-academic programs. We support Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, as well as offering internships for highly motivated students.

We collaborate with a number of educational institutions in the area, including the Santa Fe Institute, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Highlands University, Santa Fe Community College, Warehouse 21, Monte Del Sol Charter High School, and Santa Fe High School.

Practical Application of Complexity Science

The Complex is built on the premise that the practical application of complexity science, enabled by the use of sophisticated information technologies, can help solve the problems that will determine much about the future of our communities and the future of our planet.

The Complex draws together the talent for team-based approaches to problem solving and provides the leadership, scientific expertise, infrastructure, and technological tools required to support this approach to problem solving.

The Complex sponsors research, holds forums and workshops, and coordinates project teams. By bringing together diverse experts in physical and virtual spaces, the Complex encourages synergy between different perspectives and approaches to tackle a wide variety of issues such as:

  • 3D wildfire simulation and evacuation planning
  • San Francisco public health caseflow simulation
  • Washington, D.C. emergency evacuation modeling
  • Pharmaceutical R&D portfolio optimization