Sergey Gavrilets, a distinguished professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has received more than $1.1 million in grants from the Army Research Office for study into societal resilience using evolutionary models and theories of revolution.
Gavrilet’s research is funded by the Department of Defense’s Minerva Program, which is dedicated to predicting future socio-political crises in the world and societies’ resilience to various political, economic, environmental, and health-related shocks.
“I work with mathematical models to develop a theory that hopefully will be useful to predict or identify certain problems or uncover gaps in our knowledge,” Gavrilets said. “I used to work a lot in biology and biological evolution, but lately I’ve shifted towards social and cultural evolution and behavior.”
By using new and improved modeling tools, analysts will be able to assess political stability risks, improving predictions and explanations for societal unrest.
“The reason why we want to do this is because life is getting pretty complicated, especially over the last 10 to 20 years,” he said. “Conflicts are popping up in different places and usually come completely unexpected. Naturally, everyone wants to understand them better and hopefully predict them.”
Gavrilet’s research will also yield theoretical and modeling approaches with applications in fundamental sciences such as psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology.
–By Kelly Alley
The University of Tennessee wishes to acknowledge Lisa Troyer at the Army Research Office for supporting these projects.